The fictional character, played by Christian Erickson, has always been the hook of the car-combat franchise, MegaRace. He's largely the reason I grew up with the franchise — every two-three years the dusty old Panasonic 3DO would come out of the cupboard, and the first port of calling would be MegaRace. I still find the franchise's take on futuristic game-shows endearing, and Erickson's performance as the smarmy (yet creepy) host is magical. Born at a time when FMV cut-scenes felt like the future, MegaRace is a memorable title in my gaming heritage.
But I had no idea there were sequels. No idea at all. In fact, I didn't even know who Christian Erickson was until recently. I just knew Lance Boyle. Curiously, it's Heavy Rain that had been stirring away at my MegaRace memories. There's a scene in Quantic Dream's master-piece in which you visit a doctor in search of sleeping tablets. The struck-off surgeon always felt oddly familiar to me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. Eventually, I went in search of answers, and dug up a whole hive of information on MegaRace. Most shocking to me was that there were two sequels — the third launching on PlayStation 2. I bought a copy within minutes of discovering it.
MegaRace 3: Nanotech Disaster ditches some of the original's futuristic elements for a more biological, sci-fi feeling. Gameplay-wise it is Wipeout, and it lacks a lot of the original's identity. Wipeout's a solid formula to emulate but MegaRace 3 lacks the subtleties of Sony's franchise. The power-ups aren't particularly exciting to use, the crafts are bland and the tracks are too plain. There is one thrilling race through a children's toy-box (yup!), but aside from that it's a mess of over-saturated colours and biological blobs.
But I didn't buy MegaRace 3 for the game — I bought it for Lance Boyle. The franchise's trademark host is more bizarre than ever in the third iteration. While the sinister tones of Boyle's original performance underscore the FMV cut-scenes, the overarching theme of MegaRace 3's sequences seem to play on the fake-happy-happy game-show vibe that's associated with the USA. Boyle sports a brightly coloured jacket and spikey hair. His subtle performance from the original MegaRace is replaced by an outlandish, bouncey delivery — met with canned laughter and wide smiles. It's just as unsettling as the original MegaRace, just in a different way. Boyle is an in-your-face psychopath; whereas in the original you got the feeling he'd ignore you and then stab you in your sleep. I'll probably always prefer the original Lance Boyle — I grew up imitating some of the lines he delivered. But equally, I could see MegaRace 3 having the same affect on younger children as the original had on me. That's probably testament to the Lance Boyle character.
I didn't play MegaRace 3 for long. I went in for the cut-scenes; the racing was neither here nor there for me. I'm amazed the character lived on for so long. And to be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing more. A new MegaRace game released on the PSN would certainly satisfy me. I could put up with the sub-Wipeout gameplay — after all, MegaRace is all about Lance Boyle.
MegaRace 3: Nanotech Disaster
Developer: Cryo Interactive
Publisher: Cryo Interactive
Release Date: 29th March 2002 [EU]
Late To The Party is PushSquares retro games column, where editor Sammy Barker returns to a classic PlayStation franchise with the luxury of hindsight.