Im always looking for good games that I might have missed when I’m digging through the bins at the gaming stores, most of the times its just crappy games but once in while you stumble upon a so called hidden gem.
The other day I found an arcade racing game called Firebugs, released 2002 for the Playstation. My first thought when i saw the frontcover was that it looked really low-budget. A very simple aribrush photoshop painting that someone threw together in less than an hour, and when you see this it just make you think that its on of those crappy game. If you have put the effort in developing a game you could at least put some time into the cover!
The first thing i did was to reach for my phone and search the net for some reviews to see what people thought of Firebugs. The strange thing was that it was nearly impossible to get any hits on it, no hits on Gamerankings, Gamespot or IGN! Now thats really strange! So I gave up and just bought the game, it only cost about 5usd so it didn’t matter if it was a crappy game.
When i got home i did a search for the developers of the game that called them self’s ATL (Attention to Detail Limited) Yes it turned out the be the same people who created one of my favorite arcade racing series for the Playstation: Rollcage!
The Rollcage series that where Published by Psygnosis where a big hit on the playstation, great graphics, amazing Drum n Bass music from Moving Shadow and just a fun action filled racing game. So why haven’t i heard of Firebugs? It was released two years after Rollcage 2. And one other thing that I noticed later on was that it was only released in Europe, so if want an NTSC version of Firebugs your out of luck 😦
I started up the game and loaded the first map, and was surprised to see that this actually was the ATL:s Rollcage engine. Not just the engine of Rollcage, its the same exact game! After studying how the camera moves around, the physics of the vehicles, the way you can drive upsidedown etc.. it was all there! And even the power-ups and weapons from Rollcage where there, they didn’t even change them! But something must be different? Yes some small tweaks have been made. The graphics, you have a whole new look that is very different from Rollcage. The textures in the levels are less detailed and have a more cell-shaded look, very similar to the fps game Warsow.
There are a couple of different “worlds” that you can choose between, the first one looks really nice with detailed textures and rich colors. But the rest of the worlds looks really awful, the textures are very simple and ugly. Its like there where two different people making the maps and they didn’t know what graphic style to use. But its ok, whats most important is the actual levels that you drive around in, witch are pretty good!
Firebugs also have unique Characters all with different background stories, different designs on the vehicles and they have their own special weapons witch is a pretty fun new thing that differs from the Rollcage games. Two of the characters in the game are actually the two band members of the Finnish group Bomfunk MC’s! Yes, several of the music tracks in the game are from the Bomfunk MC’s and i think it fits very well into the game. A very good soundtrack that fits to the futuristic style of Firebugs.
Well i guess that’s it, I want to call Firebugs the unofficial sequel to Rollcage with a twist. I don’t know if i want to call this a hidden gem of the Playstation but if you are fan of the Rollcage series like me you are probably going to enjoy this game.