Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Random Game I've Never Heard Of #4

Harricana (1990)
By: Loriciel Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST
Also Available For: Amiga, Amstrad CPC

See - even the title screen is in French...
The games I've taken a look at with the 'Random Game' feature so far have all been fairly obscure but there's not really any good reason why I shouldn't have heard of any of them. This latest selection, however, is quite a rarity for me as it's actually a French game. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, of course - I've played some cracking French games in my time such as Purple Saturn Day and Flashback to name just two - but Harricana was not only made by our croissant-loving neighbours but is apparently aimed at them as well. Or to be more specific, it seems to be aimed at French-Canadians, for the game is one of the rarest of all racing games - a snowmobile racing game! The existence of so few games of this type compared to pretty much every other kind of racing game made it an intriguing title to explore. To start with...

The other racer will soon zoom into the distance!
Harricana is so French that even the menus and in-game texts are in French, a language I don't speak, but it seems to be a fairly simple game. There's no choice of character or vehicle so a single press of the fire button from the title screen sends you straight into the action. This involves a race against some nineteen opponents apparently, although there's never more than one or two others visible in my experience, who must race across the snow-covered 'course' which is actually just a open stretch of terrain partially marked out by small flags. The terrain is naturally populated by lots of fir trees as well as stray logs and your snowmobile doesn't react well to hitting one of these as you might expect, causing it to stop instantly, and herein lies what is by far the game's biggest problem.

Yep, still in 20th place...
Once you've hit one of these obstacles you'll stop dead. If you then attempt to steer around it you'll find that you're stuck on it which takes an agonising amount of time to correct. There is the option of reversing but this also takes time of course. Plus, when you're going slowly, most often immediately after hitting something, even the many small mounds of snow will stop you in your tracks. All this tomfoolery makes it extremely easy to lose track of the already very approximate course boundary meaning lots of aimless scooting around (inbetween getting stuck on something every ten seconds of course). This makes Harricana an immensely frustrating experience. After numerous attempts, I have yet to finish anywhere other than dead last, and by quite some margin too. Not only has this resulted in many snarls and growls but it also means I have absolutely no idea how many races there are or what happens if you should win one. More crucially, beyond my usual desire to provide accurate information here, I don't really have any desire to find out.

Stuck on another bloody tree...
This rather sizeable problem also means I don't know what the game looks like or sounds like beyond the first race. That at least does look quite nice though, and if you manage to get your vehicle's speed up, it can be a rather fast game too, but it probably won't be long before you're stationary again! There's no in-game music either, and the sound effects are minimal, although there is a pretty freaky-looking announcer who speaks now and then (in French). The fact is though, this kind of game doesn't really suit the ST (or the other systems it's been released on). To be as fast and obstacle-packed as it is, it would need to have much more precise controls (an analogue stick would be ideal) and much clearer graphics with a greater draw-distance. As it is, it's not a bad idea, it's just been executed very poorly. If it were remade for something like the N64 it might be great fun, but as it is, Harricana is one of the most frustrating games I've ever played.

RKS Score: 3/10


  1. You lost me at snowmobile racing game.

  2. I lost myself shortly thereafter... :|

  3. Its too bad that it is such a terrible game as (being Canadian) I think a snowmobile race game would be a good idea. Those racing games where you stop dead whenver you hit something though are massively frustrating, I agree!

  4. Yeah, it enraged me no end, believe me! There's so many things that you can hit too, especially if you dare to actually pick up some speed! Oh well, I'll stick to... hmmm, can't think of any other polar racing games... maybe Antarctic Adventure? :P