Game Name: Scorcher
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Scavenger
Genre(s): Racing
Release Date: November 1996
Serial Number: MK81214-50
Region: PAL

scorcher sega saturn screenshotScavengers Scorcher had me excited. There was a screenshot of the game on the back of the box of one of the UK Saturn’s I had purchased, the games magazines had been previewing it for months. The graphics looked slick, the tracks atmospheric, the futuristic vehicle you race had bright green spheres surrounding it, this game looked good. Then it got delayed, then delayed again, and we all know that delays are bad news in the videogames world. We all know that there must be a problem with the game, a reason for the wait. Yet still I was excited.

The problem for Scorcher is that whilst it had been delayed the Saturn had seen other futuristic racers released. Bullfrogs Hi Octane looked rough, but had a real sense of speed, and well constructed tracks. The Saturn conversion of Wipeout was poor, but fundamentally it was still a decent game. By the time Scorcher was available it was already looking dated. I remember being immensely disappointed when I finally got to play the game, so how would I find it now, more than a decade on, returning to play the game for this review?

scorcher screenshotThe issue with Scorcher is that it just feels so slow. There is no sense of speed whatsoever. Alongside Wipeout this feels pedestrian, there’s just nothing to get the pulse racing, and that’s a shame, because the game looks rather pretty. The lighting effects aren’t too bad for the Saturn, and the draw distance is acceptable. The circuits are a little bland and aesthetically far too similar, and the game is way too short. I’m not going to be too critical of the lack of tracks, because few racing games in 1996 had a huge array of circuits, but it’s fair to say the game does lack replay value somewhat.

One thing that I’d forgotten in the years since playing this, was just how frustrating the game is, and this is why Scorcher is unable to redeem itself. You flying along, quite happily, then, whoops! You’ve fallen down a hole in the track. Next lap, you know the hole is there, you try to steer around it, and damn! The controls are so unresponsive, you’ve fallen off the track again. So you try it with the wheel, you come round to the same section again, and sod it! You throw the Saturn out of the window.

scorcher4 scorcher3

The game isn’t impossibly hard, but it is hard for the wrong reasons. It’s not because the opponents have good AI that you lose, or because the circuits are ingenious, nope, it’s because your vehicle won’t respond in the way that you are asking it to. If you can pick it up cheap, then it may be worth a spin, but frankly there are better futuristic racers on the Saturn, and many better arcade racers, sometimes things just aren’t worth waiting for.

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Scorcher, 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating