A few weeks ago at GDC, I got to meet up with the guys from Remedy Entertainment, who were showing me their new iOS game Death Rally. It’s based on an old game they did back in the 90s, where you drive a little car around a track that’s equipped with machine guns, blowing up your fellow racers and fighting for first place. I wrote about it for TUAW, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, as I said there.
While I was doing that demo, Remedy also told me that they were running a contest with all of the press members at GDC — they were going to have everyone who saw the game race around one specific level in one specific car, and the best time among all the journalists there would win an actual cameo in the game. Their face, in other words, would be seen alongside the other cameos, including one Duke Nukem, John Gore from the iOS game Minigore, and a character from Remedy’s console title, Alan Wake. My first attempts at the game weren’t that great — the joystick controlling the car works well, but takes a little getting used to, and at the end of the demo, when I finally got handed the controls and told this was going to be my one chance at fame, I didn’t have too many expectations.
But when I grabbed that virtual joystick and started the race, something in me kicked in. Some primal competitive juices flowed through my brain, and I drove that little car around the track as if my life depended on it. I quickly abandoned the AI players, caught every turn perfectly, hit every shortcut dead-on, and raced ahead at full speed along the stretches. I didn’t see any of the AI cars the rest of that race — I was too far ahead of them, and I almost even lapped them at one point. As I finished, my time came up on screen, and the Remedy developer read it off, startled: fifty-two seconds. Both he and the PR person in the room were shocked — the actual producer of the game had raced earlier that day, and hadn’t come up with any better than a minute. There were still a few journalists left to race, but my time was by far the best they’d seen.
And sure enough, a few weeks later, I got the email to send in a picture for them to use in the game. You can download the game right now (it’s on sale at launch for $4.99, but it’s a universal app, so it’ll work on iPhone and iPad), and you can race against and attack me whenever I randomly come up as a member of the competition. There are a few other gaming journalists hidden in there as well — Brian Crecente from Kotaku is one of the racers (as “Brian C.”), and there’s a “G. Keighley,” who I haven’t seen, but I assume is the G4 host himself. Here’s me in the game, about to race myself (“toucansamurai” is my Game Center name):
Remedy did also ask me for some audio clips — some of the bosses in the game will throw off little catchphrases as they start a race and as they finish. And I did send them some that I thought were pretty clever (“How’s it going, everybody in the Death Rally?” and “How’s my driving? It’s TUAW-riffic!”, for example), but I didn’t hear them come up as I played the game last night, so I assume they didn’t get used. Still, it’s pretty awesome seeing myself in the game, and thanks to Remedy for actually using my whole name — I would be a little bummed if I was in there as just “Mike S.”
So there’s the story — if you saw my name in the game and did a Google search to see just who I was, there you go. If not, you really should buy it — of course I’m biased (though I didn’t get paid at all for my appearance), but it’s a solid little action racer, with a nice upgrade path and very fluid controls. I’ll see you out there on the laps!
Update: Ha, apparently there’s an achievement for beating me, too, the title of which is hilarious. Thanks to @poggn on Twitter for the picture!