Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 30/09/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Tales of the Pole

I've been meaning to sit down and write this rant all day, but I keep getting distracted. Not by work (although I did a bit of that), or housecleaning (though that came into it too), or even to catch up on three weeks' worth of Seinfeld (although, again, I'm technically guilty). No, the reason this rant has been delayed until after dinner is that I keep sloping off to the PC to play Pole Position.

Pole Position, according to the rather helpful help that comes with the game, was introduced as an arcade game in 1982 and attained the status of an instant classic. While that date places it instantly in the Gusworld Hall Of Fame, I have to confess that I never played the game before I installed it on my machine as part of the Microsoft Return To Arcade games pack for Windows 95. This pack includes Pacman, Dig Dug, Galaxian and Pole Position. I love 'em all, but Pole Position has become my favourite. This is quite an achievement for a racing game, given my chronic inability to drive. It allows me to race around on a very silly track, swerving elegantly with my mouse. Plus, a full game only takes about three minutes, which means I've been able to fill up the high-score table fairly quickly.

For this I am almost eternally grateful. I retain a slight reservation because of a bug in this game. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the game slows down to half-speed for five or six seconds. This can happen even when you have no other programs running on the machine. Should you happen to be in the middle of a tricky manoeuvre involving three other cars, this usually makes you crash (in the car sense, not the Windows 95 sense). And that sucks.

Having previously noted Microsoft's apparent inability to compact code in these classic arcade games, I shouldn't be so surprised. But it does make you wonder. If Microsoft is having trouble exploiting Windows 95 as a gaming platform with games that are more than a decade old, then how must its competitors -- for whom games are bread-and-butter, not just a small sideline -- be coping?

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