Okay, so my favorite local second hand, MUST HAVE MUSIC AND MORE, has a slew of Playstation 2 games and recently I discovered that a great number of them are being sold for the low, low price of $4.95. For those of you who have been following along at home, this is how I came across Pryzm , Chapter One: The Last Unicorn, that little gem that I alone made famous last year! As I was browsing through the stacks the other day I saw a good number of these $5 games that looked at the very least interesting, if not potential diamonds in the rough. After thinking it over I came to a conclusion: The PS2 has a vast library and very few catch the attention of the popular culture, but lots and lots of games get released. Somewhere in those stacks of discarded, unloved games must be some really great games just looking for someone to play them and at the risk of five dollars a go, I think it’s worth finding just what is out there. The result is this on-going experiment, a journey that you and I are going to take through the unwanted library of the PS2. So strap in, kiddies, we’ve got twelve months, sixty dollars, and a Playstation2 and we’re about to discover what we’ve been missing!
Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano
In the modern era, there are two kinds of racing games: simple, fun games for everyone (kart racers and the like) and complex, hardcore racing games that are only for those who are totally into racing. Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano is the latter. I am better suited to the former. Complex, hardcore racing games demand at least a rudimentary knowledge of how racing cars work, things like gear shifting. They require finesse, and understanding of car handling, and other car-knowin’ stuff that I ain’t got. I knew within 5 minutes of “playing” Alfa Romeo that this game was not for me. I made just such a comment to my wife and the conversation went something like this:
Me: This game sucks!
Her: No, it doesn’t, you just aren’t any good at it.
Me: No, this game sucks, it’s too hard to steer, you have no control going around corners, the car sucks.
Her: It might help if you used the brakes.
Me: It’s a racing game, you don’t use brakes, you go forward, fast and you win. No one ever won a race using the brakes.
Her: You might also consider down-shifting.
Me: Down-what? What the hell is down shifting? You just hold down the accelerate button and let off just when you go around curves. There’s no shifting.
Her: Yes, there is. In games like this you have to drive like it’s a real car.
Me: Nuts to that. This game sucks and I’m going to go write my review and tell everybody that this game sucks.
Her: Maybe you’re not qualified to write this review…
And it pretty much was downhill from there. I’ve not played much Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano since that conversation. My wife continued to play for another half hour or so, but her car kept exploding just as much as mine did. She still defends it, and I guess she is right, to a point.
Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano is probably an alright game if you are big into Gran Turismo or racing games of that ilk. The game seems to have some depth, from what I read in the instruction manual. Both you and your car gain experience points for doing well in races and you can use those points to improve your driver stats and your car’s components. There are different challenges to take on and cars to win, plus you have this bizarro "Tiger" power that enables you to roll back time about five seconds during a race in case you need to correct a fatal error or salvage a cheap win by an opponent. Had it been more user friendly, I might have been able to get into this game, but as it stands, I pretty much gave a five dollar bill to a crackhead and said “have at it.” (not sure how much crack $5 buys these days, but all the same). There is a "quick play" mode that is more fun, where your car doesn't explode after a few collisions, but that is not enough to prop up a game billed as a "racing RPG."
If anyone wants a barely re-used copy of Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano, leave me a comment and I’ll send it off to you for the low price of $5 and you can try it for yourself. I’ll even cover the shipping. I promise this will never make it back into my PS2.