Back Catalogue: Screamer

SCREAMER

What is it about?

Screamer is the simplest form of arcade racing you’ll ever find. The game released in 1995, around the time of the first Need for Speed game, and the development team – Graffiti, went on to form Milestone, an established name in racing game development, best known currently for the WRC games. It wasn’t too different from the other popular arcade racers of its time, but what set it apart was its sense of speed, the realistic engine sounds, and the amount of detail it packed into its environments – ski lifts, camera choppers, densely populated urban structures. These things weren’t commonplace back then, especially considering the fact that this was a 3D game that used software rendering rather than hardware acceleration.

Why should I play it now?

Let’s face it – most of the games we cover in our Back Catalogue features can’t really compete with what their respective genres currently offer, and Screamer is no different. What it does provide though is some perspective on just how far arcade racing games have come. For those who played Screamer and other racing games in the mid-90s, it’s a shot of pure nostalgia. It’s a reminder of a time when racing games were just about racing.

How does it hold up today?

Unlike the subsequent games in the series, the first Screamer didn’t support 3D hardware, so time hasn’t been good to it. It’ll run just fine via the DOS emulator, which is included when you buy it from GOG.com, but I did face some crashes on my Windows 7 PC. It’s playable for sure, but don’t expect it to keep you away from your current go-to racer.

Is it similar to anything else out there?

As I mentioned before, Screamer released around the time the first Need for Speed game did, and while the two shared a few similarities, it had more in common with Ridge Racer. Then again, neither of those games had Screamer’s sense of speed, so its modern-day equivalent would probably be Burnout. It even had the over-the-top takedowns.

What do I need to play this?

Back in the day, Screamer was one of the few games that demanded a Pentium-powered PC thanks to all that software rendering going on. Today, however, any Windows PC will do.

‘When I played through…’

Screamer was the first game I ever bought. It cost me every penny of my savings; all of Rs 1,000. And even though I had already played a pirated copy of it to death, it is a purchase I’ve never regretted. The sense of speed was astonishing and no game had made my Creative Sound Blaster soundcard work harder. Unlocking the God-like Bullet car remains one of my most memorable gaming achievements.

Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?

Pretty much every game that came out around the mid-90s had cheat codes, and Screamer was no different. But besides those that did basic stuff like unlock tracks and cars, there were also some pretty crazy cheats that altered the game completely. One mirrored all tracks, another flipped the screen upside down, while another turned every AI vehicle into the monstrous Bullet car.

Where do I get it?

Screamer was released for PC only, but you won’t find a copy anywhere, and even if you do dig up your old CD ROM, it probably won’t work on current Windows operating systems. Luckily, GOG.com has it for just $5.99 and it’ll work with the newer Windows systems.

If you’re feeling lucky, then we’ve got codes for Screamer to give away courtesy GOG.com. Simply post your views on this Back Catalogue feature in the comments section below, or just let us know that you’d like a code (we’re nice like that).

Let us know what you think of our Back Catalogue retrospective feature, or tell us which classic games you’d like to see featured in the future in the comments section below or in the corresponding discussion thread at the IVG community forums.

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