Retro Review: Screamer (PC)

Retro-Review-Screamer-PCArcade racing games were not exactly uncommon in the mid 90’s with titles like Ridge Racer and Daytona USA doing the rounds in arcades and various home console ports. However, Screamer was specifically released and designed for the PC, a little unusual as the PC was mainly seen as the home for other genres of gaming than arcade racers.

Screamer was designed by Graffiti and published by Virgin Interactive in 1995. Graffiti was fairly unknown up to this point, having only released Super Loops and Iron Assault before working on Screamer, however, looking at the company’s progression they re-branded themselves as Milestone and have become synonymous with the Racing genre and Superbike/Moto GP games in particular.

On the surface Screamer seems like your average run of the mill Arcade racer, there is six tracks overall, a few different types of car that have manual and automatic gear systems and the standard single race or championship options. The racing objectives are very similar to any other racer of the time, get a high finishing place to earn points and make it around the track as fast as you can to hit checkpoints, so your time does not run down. However, the gameplay and sheer speed of this game blows any averageness out of the water, within 30 seconds of a race you are power sliding into a corner, sending cones flying all over the place, the screen is packed full of cars and the announcer is making comments about finding the brake pedal….awesome stuff, considering this is a mid 90’s PC title designed to run in DOS/Windows 95 on a 88mhz machine.

The graphic style of the game is no different to what can be found in Ridge Racer of other titles, the cars seem well designed and based on real life models, like the Porsche 911 for example. The tracks have a fairly basic design, each one gets harder as you progress on to the next race, and there is even a track that is set at night time, but what makes this title stand out for me, is the amount of things that are occurring in the background of each track. There are planes taking off and landing, trains going overhead, helicopters filming the racing action, ski lifts are going up and down, and much more, I can’t recall another racing game being like this on the PC at that time. Obviously there is some pop-up as the graphics are not drawn too far ahead, but things are kept running very high rate of frames, even on the average computer I had at the time, things ran well.

In terms of audio quality, things work exceptionally well, as Screamer was released as a CD-ROM title. The cars sound good and have a nice grunt to them; the soundtrack was composed by Allister Brimble, who’s previous work includes Amiga titles such as, Alien Breed, Superfrog, Project – X and the Dizzy Series, so as you would expect it is a brilliant sound track, that has an arcade rock vibe that would not be out of place in any other arcade racing game that was released at the time.

The opponent car AI is fairly simple on the easier levels, but gets very aggressive as the difficulty increases, more than once I was slammed in to the wall on the last lap and set spinning into last place. There is some longevity in the extra modes that come included, one is your standard time trial and the other is a cone hitting mode, where you get extra time for hitting the cones that are litter throughout the course, you keep doing this in laps until you run out of time, the amount of laps you lasted are then recorded on the scoreboard.  After beating the game on the hardest difficulty settings you get to race against the “Bullet Car” one on one, needless to say by the cars name, it is ridiculously fast and if you do manage to beat it, you can then use it in the championship mode against your opponents, in today’s modern market it would probably be available on pre-order or as extra DLC, shame really, this is the exact kind of thing that keeps me playing games. There is also a network play option included by I have never tested this out.

Screamer (PC) Gameplay Video

In terms of the Screamer series, I have seen rumours that a PS1 port was planned but never materialised. There was a sequel imaginatively called Screamer 2 and a spin-off called Screamer Rally which I guess is a nod to the Sega Rally and V-Rally franchises, expect reviews of these titles to come.

In general this is a great little Arcade racer that was designed for the PC and should at least be played by anybody that is interested in the arcade racing genre or retro PC gaming from the 90’s, I would go so far as to say, I prefer this is over Ridge Racer and the other arcade racing titles out there. The sheer speed of the game, graphics and audio quality is enough to keep you busy for a quiet weekend or two.

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Last Updated ( 08 April 2012 )  

Ed Hale

Tall Handsome Male Seeks.....Ooops sorry wrong type of description. For the majority of the world who do not know me already, I am a seasoned Championship Manager addict who grew up on a diet of Amiga and PC classics. Have had flirtations with console and handheld gaming but always return to the warm comfort of the PC for a good time. Have occasionally done some writing for RetroCollect but always seem to find something new and shiny to distract myself, a legion of loyal subjects and praises might persuade me to keep churning out new content.

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(Link to this comment) k1ngarth3r 2012-04-09 14:53
I remember this! This I still have it somewhere :-) Great game at the time!
(Link to this comment) ironmaidenrule 2012-04-09 18:55
Its well worth having a quick blast through, in the process of writing the review, I had to complete it again, it hooked me straight back in!
(Link to this comment) Speedle 2012-04-10 08:53
An awesome game. Used to have no end of issues getting it to run under windows 95 back in the day! Screamer 2 was even better with updated visuals but retaining the same fast paced driving!

Need to dig out the old PC and have a blast!
(Link to this comment) ironmaidenrule 2012-04-10 09:30
The version i used in the review was from DotEmu, simple download and worked straight away.
(Link to this comment) TheLastShogun 2013-01-03 22:30
La verdad es la primera vez que lo veo, pero para la época tiene gráficos interesantes, da un aire a Cruis'n world de Nintendo
(Link to this comment) ClassicReplay 2013-06-17 19:40
I remember this game. At the time the PC was starved of arcade racers and this fitted the bill nicely. Really good game for the time.
(Link to this comment) oldgamerz 2016-11-29 02:25
I had screamer 2 back in the day on PC among other racing games. If i remember correctly my computer needed more ram at that time but I could still play it, as it was somewhat choppy and I didn't have a video card at the time.

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