Ross’s Game Dungeon: Test Drive 3


[Subtitles by danielsangeo] Welcome to Ross’s Game Dungeon. Today, I’ll be talking about the
first game on this show in 3D! Well, actually, this isn’t real 3D because I can’t reach out of the screen
and grab you yet, but you know what I mean. “Test Drive 3–The Passion of
the Test Drive” This game is such a mixed bag. If it was a literal bag that you
could stick your hand in, it would be filled with gold nuggets
and snapping turtles. This is a driving game. …if you somehow haven’t
figured that out. It has the option to race
against the clock, AI opponents, and up to three other people, but you take turns with other
people so what’s the point? Now, this screen is worth
talking about right here. Every time you played this game, it would do a copy-protection
check with a code wheel. The way it worked is you would
match up the different key shapes, car names and so on in the code wheel, then you would get a code
that you entered in. If you entered in the wrong code, it
would only let you play for two minutes. Now, I want to talk more about this, but there’s something else I need to cover
first, so I’m going to skip ahead here. But, hey, here’s a free tip: if
a real cop ever pulls you over and asks you for information,
you should NOT put him or her on hold. But, you’ll figure that out
even without me. Okay, so here’s the game. Glorious 3D vector graphics. Now, I want to talk more about
the graphics, too, but I HAVE to talk about the
gameplay in this game first because it REFUSES to be ignored. Now, like most racing games, you race along
the road and try to make it to the finish line. In addition to that, you also
have to worry about the cops that will ticket you if you
drive too fast, crashing into things, and
dealing with other traffic. Right now, I’m only doing a time
trial, but if you’re racing opponents, they have to deal with the
same obstacles as you. Now, this game also has an additional feature
you won’t read about in any ad for it– NOR IN THE REVIEW FOR IT
WHEN IT CAME OUT!– and that’s this game isn’t so much about
racing as it is a drunk driving simulator. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, the acceleration and
braking are good, the physics are great
for the year it came out, and the steering is probably the
worst I’ve ever seen in any driving game I’ve played in my life. Now, maybe you think I’m exaggerating,
like those people who say, “Worst thing ever” about
everything, but, no, I’m really not. The steering likes to accelerate
HARD in whatever direction you’re turning. It doesn’t make much of a difference if
you’re going 10 miles an hour or a hundred. There’s not even much of an
analogy to what it’s like in reality, but I may have thought of one: Pretend you’re on a motorcycle
or a dirt bike, and the bike is stationary but you have
the front wheel turned at an angle, 45 degrees or even more. Now, pretend you hit the gas and
give that bike a real jackrabbit start. You have great traction and you
just peel out of there taking off as fast as you can
possibly can. You’re going to fly off in the
direction you’re steering and maybe even wreck yourself
before you gone anywhere, right? Well, that’s what the normal
steering in this game feels like. You know what? I don’t even have
to explain it to you. Take a look at this. Wow, those are some good doughnuts
considering I’m not even braking, right? Oh, and hey, now’s the good time to mention
that this game has an instant replay feature. Wow, that’s some impressive
handling for a car, huh? Or any vehicle, really, besides those
teacup rides at amusement parks. Anyway, I HAD to talk about
this from the start because this permeates
everything you do in this game. So, when you see me crashing because
I swerved for absolutely nothing, it’s not because I can see
ghosts and you can’t, it’s just how this game is. Really, it’s so fundamental,
it’s kind of incredible. I mean this is a DRIVING GAME. Spending more than five minutes to code and
test the steering might’ve been a good idea. It would be like playing a
first-person shooter where your gun backfires every third shot, or a flight sim where the wings
on your plane fall off. I don’t know how this could’ve happened, especially when the other games
in the series didn’t suffer from this. All I can figure is the company
had a hard deadline and the boss started waving a
gun around until the game got finished. You didn’t patch games back then.
What you coded is what you shipped. Now, you may think this game sucks because it’s a driving game and
you can’t drive properly, so it’s a bad game, end of story. Well, I can definitely
understand that point of view, but this game is full of surprises. There’s an old joke where there
are two people are talking and it goes something like this: “A man fell out of a plane.” “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good, he had a
parachute on.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad, the parachute
wouldn’t open.” “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good, he was headed
for a haystack.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad, the haystack
had a pitchfork in it.” “Oh, that’s bad.” “No, that’s good, he missed the pitchfork.” “Oh, that’s good.” “No, that’s bad, he missed the haystack.” Well, Test Drive 3 is the
embodiment of that joke. So, the driving is bad. Really bad. So, what’s good? Well, NOW let’s
talk about the graphics. Except for the trees and brush,
which are sprites, this is a fully 3D racing game. Now, this isn’t the first fully 3D racing
game, but it’s one of the first. I personally feel like the
driving game genre has benefited more from the
transition to 3D than most others. I mean, of course first-person shooters have,
but if you look at early platformers, strategy games, graphic
adventure games, a lot of the late 2D ones look and feel
a lot better than the real early 3D ones. But, for driving games, I feel
like this was such a breath of fresh air. I mean, I like old games, but it’s hard
even for me to get into 2D racing games. And, to top it off, this was in VGA graphics. What that means is that this could
use up to 256 colors on the screen. On PCs before that, they used EGA,
which only gave you access to 16. The transition from 16 to 256 colors, I think has been one of the
biggest graphics upgrades in history. Forget 3D, being able to have
more colors is huge. Because, honestly, a lot of EGA games
on the PC looked pretty bad. It’s not that you can’t make
graphics look nice with 16 colors, but on the PC at least, they almost never
did in my opinion, even at the time. They usually didn’t accept their limitations and a lot of them looked like they WANTED
more colors but they didn’t have them, especially compared to some
other platforms like the Commodore 64. It also had 16 colors but the
art direction on many of those games looked way better than a lot of DOS games. What I think this comes down to is you
CAN make a game look good with 16 colors, but you need the RIGHT 16 colors. In my senior year of high school,
I was in a psychology class where the teacher was giving us these cards to demonstrate how color-blind tests worked. And I could see the shapes in all of them, but
some of them were much more subtle than others. And next to me, a friend of mine,
wearing a tie-dye t-shirt no less, just kept swearing under his
breath over and over. It turns out he kept failing the
different color-blind tests, one after another, almost all of them. Now, the funny part is, is that
he was a big time art student, too. He was always doing drawings
and paintings and so on. So, he was, what, 17… 18 years old,
had been doing art classes for years, but only just found out he was
mostly color-blind. Later, he said that this explained
why he never liked shading. He said it was always better
just to make all the colors flat. So, anyway, back to the actual review. The art direction on a lot of 16 color
DOS games is lame, but not here! Look at that horizon and lush green hills! Based on reviews I’ve seen, people are pretty divided on the
graphics for this game, because this isn’t exactly the latest
Need for Speed or Gran Turismo game. It pre-dates BOTH of those! Yeah! Personally, I really like these
simple vector graphics because it’s kind of surreal. There are no textures on
anything; they’re all flat colors. Maybe this is how my friend from
high school sees the world. And, hey, I promised
triangles for this episode. Well, with very few exceptions,
every 3D game is made out of triangles, but in modern games, they’re so
small, you often cannot see them anymore. But this is EARLY 3D! You can count on your fingers
how many polygons that hillside has. Taken altogether, I think this minimalist,
rough geometric style is really cool, and it’s kind of a different experience
than what you get from most games. Plus, when this came out, this was
the Crysis for 3D graphics at the time. I mean, you have day, night, rain,
snow, fog, bugs on your windshield, streams, chickens, cows, lighthouses,
planes, trains, detailed traffic, tunnels… for a 1990 3D game,
this is bursting with details. And, because the graphics are so
primitive by today’s standards, I actually thinks this holds up
some because it’s so surreal. I mean, look at this
construction worker. Is he repairing the road or is he trying
to communicate telepathically with you? Can he levitate objects with his mind? While modern-day games can look gorgeous, I feel like a lot of them don’t
spark the imagination in the same way that more
abstract graphics like this do. Okay, so for me, these graphics
are an example where less is more. But, sadly, there are parts where less…
is just less. Specifically, the resolution. The original resolution of this
game is 320×200, but it’s meant to be
stretched like I’ve done here. Even then, you only get about
half of the screen because the other half is devoted to
your dash. I have to admit, this looks rough. I feel like the game
would look so much better if they could bump it up to just
640×480, but that’s not in the cards. I’m normally the sort of person
who likes to watch everything full screen, but for this episode in particular,
you may want to watch this in a window. It’s just a bit overwhelming in full screen. So, I can’t blame the designers about that, but the low-resolution really
does not age well here. Also, while the color is
generally great, I don’t like the dithering effect
you get from some of the landscape. AAAAAAAAAAH! Well, at least it allows them to
create more shades, so that the world looks pink
when you’re in the snow, just like real life! Okay, so the graphics are good
but they’re also bad. Let’s go back to the gameplay. As I mentioned already, this
game has lots of details. What if you decide, “Hey, where
do these power lines go?” or “Where’s that train headed?” wouldn’t it be cool if you could
just say to hell with the race and just drive off-road and
start exploring it instead, and maybe hunt for crashed UFOs
while you’re at it? Well, you can totally do that. You can go off-road as much as you want. This is a total open-world game. Somebody can fact check me, but I think it
might’ve been the first 3D VGA open-world game. Did you know that, even though this game
came out in 1990, this car is still really fast? And doesn’t just let you go off-road, there’s stuff out there. There are hidden roads,
alternate routes, I found a racing track out in
the middle of nowhere, more chickens, this game has
lots for you to explore. It would not surprise me one bit if there’s a polygonal Bigfoot
wandering around somewhere. This is, by far, the best part of the game. Even though the steering is abysmal,
the level design is FANTASTIC! A lot of these courses
feel kind of like real roads. I love driving around exploring
everything that’s in this game. You have a lot of freedom, you
can even try stunts in this game by jumping off a mountain or,
hey, landing in some lake. Yeah, you guys thought I forgot,
didn’t you? I said there would be drownings
in this game. Well, the drowning is actually
interpretive, but if you drive your car into a
lake and you don’t get out of the car, there are only so many
possibilities that can happen. Now, this is actually a serious
topic so I’m going to diverge a bit. If you’re like me and drive your
own car into a pond or lake on occasion, here’s some safety tips you should know. First, undo your safety belt
once you’re actually in the water. You won’t need it unless
a boat or jetski hits you but the odds on that are
usually pretty low. Second, it’s better to open your
car door window and get out that way, because when you’re surrounded by water, the
amount of pressure pushing against the door can make it much more difficult to open. Believe me! Whereas rolling the windows down easy. The problem here is that a lot of
car windows nowadays are electric only. So, if that shorts out, you
might be screwed. I’m not sure. The cars I’ve driven in the past
have all been at least 20 years old, so I don’t have much experience with
newfangled technology like power windows. Now, if anyone in the audience has
experience driving their car into a lake and have power windows, please
share that with everyone. My guess is maybe you have a short
window of time–OH! That’s a pun! I am sorry– where your windows still work
and you can swim out. All-in-all, it’s easier to just
NOT drive your car into a lake, but hey, your beer is not going to drink
itself when you’re driving over a bridge. And while we’re on
the topic of killing yourself, I should explain that the “ha ha”
message you’ve been seeing isn’t normally a part of the game.
That’s a small hack I made for this video. Normally, you get five lives,
then it’s game over. And you can totally beat the
game with those five lives, but you’ll have to drive like you’re
a defensive grandmother in order to survive. Anyway, the version of the game
I downloaded and will link to came with a crack to give you infinite lives. So, instead of seeing the name
of the guy who cracked it 500 times, I changed the message to it to
give it a little more flavor. And, speaking of cracking, let’s
talk about that copy-protection again. This game has been cracked. You can enter any answer for the
code and it will work. The past two games I’ve reviewed
have been freeware. They used to cost money at one time, but the original authors later
gave permission for these games to be
distributed freely. Test Drive 3, best I can tell,
is abandonware. The difference is that this used
to be a commercial game that you’d pay for, but then the company shut down
or got bought out, and none of the people involved
with the original game are still involved with the
intellectual property. The company that does own the
intellectual property usually doesn’t care about a game made 20 years
ago that they had no involvement in, and are no longer collecting
any money on. So, what happens is that some groups just
kind of put the old game out there to test the waters. When they don’t get busted for
it, the game becomes abandonware. Now, a lawyer might tell you that
there’s no such thing as abandonware. The company that own the intellectual
property still has total ownership of it and it’s their choice whether to
allow this game to be released or not. Well, anyone who says that can GO TO HELL! It pisses me off to NO END when a
company simply sits on intellectual property, and lets games they don’t even
care about die because of how COMPLETELY
ASININE our copyright law is! If you make a game but haven’t sold it
or supported it for ten years or more, and haven’t been in a coma, WHY THE HELL should people be stopped
from playing it or having it distributed? DON’T ANSWER THAT! THERE ARE NO GOOD REASONS!
ONLY LEGAL ONES! To top it off,
this game had copy-protection. There are plenty of abandonware games
out there that, if it wasn’t for piracy groups, you would literally not be able
to play them now, because the company in charge changed
hands and the new owners did not care. This happens SO often
in the game industry. Now, to be fair, you CAN still
buy a copy of this game on eBay. At the time of this video, there’s a
whopping three copies of it available. I guarantee you, if this game had not
been released as abandonware, those would all be gone and you
wouldn’t be seeing this video. And I’m saying all this because
I would consider this game at-risk. Test Drive was made by the
company Accolade, but I believe that the rights
are now owned by Atari, and Atari, in its current form, has a
history of shutting down fanmade projects and sites devoted to keeping
their games alive. All it takes for this game to be
pulled offline is one corporate lawyer sending an email, then it’s
headed back towards oblivion. I want to be clear here: between the
copy-protection and the legal grab-ass, pirates are the only reason a
game like this is still alive, or at least for more than five people. I’m against games dying and I think it
should be fought by any means possible. I have no respect for laws that
kill games and you shouldn’t either. Okay, I should calm down. I’ll look at some cows. Let’s talk about the music. There’s not much to say here, really. The intro music is great. Another
good candidate for a remix. [music] After that, the music is just
simulated in-game radio. [music] It’s amusing for the first ten seconds,
but it gets old really fast. I recommend turning it off. You can do that by pressing CTRL-Q. I had to figure that out by pressing
every button I could think of because I couldn’t find a
manual for this game. Okay, back to the gameplay for a second. Remember, everything good in this game
has something bad to counterbalance it. Well, the exploration is
amazing, so what’s bad? This message. You see this message every time
you veer off course for a few seconds. Now, you can keep going as long you want,
but this message will keep coming back. It really kills the flow of the game and is
worst thing about it alongside the steering. This message screen is something
I’m sure anyone who’s been on house arrest can relate to. Or maybe some people in the audience
are already on house arrest right now. If so, you know exactly
what I’m talking about. Seeing that damned beeping on your leg collar
every time you want to get the mail. Christ… It’s such a nuisance because the
exploration is so good in this game. There’s even a Cape Cod expansion
for it that doubles the gameplay, although, I wasn’t able
to find a copy of that. Did you know that Tom Hanks is actually
obsessed with photographing lost gloves he finds around New York? He even has photos of them that
he’s put up online to share with others. I see this as some sort of
psychological disorder, though it’s pretty trivial and harmless. Well, I’m like that with some
video game maps. There are some games I would
LOVE to see maps of, and would go to lengths slightly farther
than is healthy to try to see or make them. I am lucid enough to realize
this isn’t normal behavior, and it probably represents some
hidden disorder I’m not even aware of, but in the meantime,
I love seeing game maps! Well, Test Drive 3 is a Shangri-La
of potential game maps. You have all this 3D data, an open world exploration system
with all sorts of hidden topography, and it’s a game too old and obscure
for anyone to care about besides me and whoever’s watching this video. If I had the technical know-how, I would
devote time trying to map out this game. I’m far more interested in what this whole
game world looks like than I should be. I have to say this, if anyone
out there has programming knowledge and can somehow hack apart this
game to get to the 3D data, you would MAKE MY DAY if I could
see what that looks like. And, yes, I realize how sad that is. And, hey, while I’m talking
about niche interests, ironically, this game would be
ideal for a speed run. The horrible controls only add
to the challenge, you can plot your course any way you want, and the speed of the game is
actually tied to the CPU power. Slow… fast! So, you can measure it in
in-game time versus actual time. Also, get this: the detail levels in the
game actually increase the difficulty. Watch this. Oh, that’s no good. And now… If a tree falls where no one can
see it or hear it, does it make a sound? I guess not! If you don’t see
it, it doesn’t exist! Okay, I’m ready to wrap this up. I actually meant for this to be a
shorter episode. That really worked out, huh? So, Test Drive 3 is a flawed gem– a flawed, cracked, scuffed-up,
ground-up gem with stains on it. So, what have we learned here today? That driving and the third
dimension go together well, and that if you hit a cow with
your car, you both lose. That’s it! Thanks for watching. And hey, stay tuned for the
Halloween episode, if you want to see a clown get
shot in the face. [music] Hmmmm-mehnenmehnenmehnenmehnenmehnenmehnen.

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