ESPN Extreme Games
ESPN Extreme Games (later renamed 1Xtreme due to the ESPN license expiring for Sony) was a game released for the PlayStation in 1995. A version was released for the PC's MS-DOS operating system a short time later. The game featured all the sports included in the Summer X-Games of 1995, but it did not feature events like the half pipe in skateboarding.
Unlike most games in the series, it was not developed or published by Electronic Arts, but rather by Pacific Coast Power and Light and published by THQ respectively. The game was originally thought to be a straight port of the game Road Rash 3D for the PlayStation.
However, that game ended up emphasizing the racing aspect much more so, where as this game was considered a "complete rethinking" of the game, with much greater emphasis on combat, similar to past games, such as Road Rash II.
The game featured many different sports, including skateboarding, roller blading, street luge and mountain biking. The tracks start at one end of a city, and progress along a linear path to another point of the city. Players kick and punch opponents while trying to obtain cash, attaining first place. The tracks are located in various parts of the world (I.e. including Tahoe and San Francisco). The game was available in a large cd jewel case, like the ones used for the Sega CD games.
Most of the tracks are situated in Austria and Italy, with others in Germany, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Canada, and the United States. The Upper Peninsula Luge Club in Negaunee, Michigan, is home to one of only five lighted natural track luge runs in the world, and the only natural track in the United States. The over 800 meter (half-mile) track features 29 curves along its 88-meter (289 ft) vertical drop. The club hosts international luge events and offers luge instruction to the public during the winter months.
The game was subsequently renamed 1Xtreme when it was released in the Greatest Hits line because the ESPN license was expired. The ESPN logo and company name were removed from its title. Game content referring to ESPN was also removed.
During the mid-1980s, the logo changed from the Cougar to its final logo, seen in the logo at the top of the page. This logo was introduced on the 1984 Mercury Topaz. Since 1999, the word "Mercury" appeared on the top part of the logo.
Reviewing the PlayStation version, Air Hendrix of GamePro said ESPN Extreme Games "doesn't push the limits of 32-bit graphics and gameplay, but it does take you on a thrilling ride." He elaborated that the game suffers from "rocky" scrolling and overly pixelated graphics and has few tracks compared to the similar Road Rash, but that details in the graphics "keep the action realistic" and the racing is sufficiently intense.
Maximum gave it four out of five stars, remarking that "being able to kick the stuffing out of anyone who dares to try and pass you (especially those racing bikes) makes it a wholly fulfilling experience." They also praised the texture mapping and graphical details, though they criticized the small number of tracks and said the game does not measure up to Ridge Racer or Wipeout, both already released on the PlayStation.
Reviewing the PlayStation version, GamePro said the game is "crippled by gummy controls and slow, repetitive gameplay. Flat, unimaginative graphics and sounds cause further problems. Stick with Wipeout - Hi-Octane runs out of gas." Maximum criticized that the drop in frame rate when using the new split screen multiplayer makes the game "virtually unplayable" and, like GamePro, they compared the game unfavorably to Wipeout: "Whereas WipeOut required genuine skill to master its cornering and overtaking, the courses in Hi-Octane have less involving and, with the exception of the odd shortcut, there's very little else to surprise.
WipeOut and Ridge Racer have shown the potential for PlayStation racers, and the Bullfrog offering comes across as little more than a weak PC port." They gave it 2 out of 5 stars.