Back in 1980, Midway released an innovative maze game called Rally X. It involved the player driving a rally car through a maze collecting flags while avoiding enemy cars. In many respects, Rally X resembles an extended version of Pacman. Creative games tend to surface from time-to-time, and Rally X was no exception.
Yikihiro Naito created a similar game in 2001 called Baja, and it is an excellent 3D implementation of the traditional gameplay from Rally X. In Baja, you take control of a car and drive it around a 3D maze collecting flags. The catch is that you can only see a small portion of the maze at a time. So, in order to find the flags, you will need to keep an eye on the scanner to the right of the screen. The scanner will show the positions of the flags, but not the layout of the maze.
To hamper your efforts, the maze is also populated by four (4) enemy cars, which will try to destroy you. Fortunately, you have a defense against the enemy cars: you can temporarily blind the enemies with a smoke screen by pressing the [space] bar. There is a trade off, however. Releasing a smoke screen depletes your fuel supply.
Analysis: The Shockwave 3D graphics in this game look great and were made to appear semi-transparent when your car is behind them. This very nice touch helps keep the car visible at all times. Also, the camera position shifts naturally as you move around the maze, which allows for some nice close-ups of the car. These Shockwave 3D effects were well ahead of their time for browser-based games, as there were very few being made back in 2001. It's all pretty impressive, really.
On the downside, there are two areas that I could see room for improvement. First, the music. The background music is monotonous and gets annoying very quickly. Second, the difficulty is not pitched very well. I found it extremely easy to pass several levels without losing a life. In fact, in the end I closed the game because I felt like it would go forever without providing a serious challenge. If the difficulty increased more rapidly, then it would be more challenging and keep the player engaged for a longer period; perhaps it might also improve the game's replay value as well. Overall, I think the graphics and the feel of the gameplay make this a pleasing and fun casual game. For those that may want to spend a few minutes driving around a maze, Baja provides the perfect diversion.