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Today in UK Retro Gaming: Hardcore 4×4 (PS1)

In case you think the grass is always greener across the pond, rest assured the UK gets just as many crap games as the US. When it came to Hardcore 4×4 on the PlayStation, the only good thing you can say about its European release is that it isn’t tied to a publishing deal with TNN: The Nashville Network (or as my redneck, wrestling-loving, Arkansas-residing editor called it in one of our many Facebook chats: “The only damn reason to have cable in the 1990s!”). [‘Making fun of the site owner’ and ‘Christmas bonus’ are mutually exclusive concepts, Michael–ed.]

Title screen, cuz why not?

Title screen, cuz why not?

While The Nashville Network is no longer with us save in spirit thanks to a name change to Spike TV in 2003, Hardcore 4×4 still haunts the bargain bins and clearance racks of stores which still deal in older video games in the hopes that someone somewhere will pick it up, look at the case, and decide they’d rather have it than the two quid in their pocket. Do not make the same mistake I did by assuming that there must be something salvageable despite the TNN Motorsports moniker on my US copy. Hardcore 4×4 was a 1996 racing game for the still-new PlayStation and it looks every bit its age today.

Hardcore 4x4 01

This. You just paid money for this.

What’s surprising is that Gremlin, a UK-based studio known for a number of hit titles including Loaded and its sequel Re-Loaded for the PlayStation, and the awesomely underrated RPG horror crossbreed Realms of the Haunting for PC, was responsible for programming this travesty. Make no mistake, if your idea of fun is pounding your suspension to dust while driving in a narrow canyon, sandwiched between two impossible-to-traverse cliff faces, and occasionally dog-piling with the AI on an even narrower bridge while a bored announcer occasionally spouts gems of dialogue like, “Whoaaa!” and “Hardcore!” then Hardcore 4×4 may be just what your little grey box needs. Otherwise, we’ll just let this here ad from a US magazine do the talking for us:

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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