I finally managed to complete the Speed Racer video game! It’s actually quite fun although it’s the kind of game where you can definitely get worn out with the tournaments. Also be warned that it can definitely induce seizures. It’s rather unique for a cash in and it’s easily one of the best PS2 racing games. I got it for a decent price so I can definitely say that it was worth it and it is one of the final games from my Christmas batch that I had yet to complete. Let’s look at what makes this game cool.
First of all, there is no real story mode, but we do get a tournament mode. That’s a fair trade off if you ask me although I certainly would have preferred a plot. You basically have to play around 30-40 tournaments and each tournament has 2-5 races in them. Unfortunately, a bunch of the tournaments are in the 4-5 range so they can be quite long. That’s my main problem with the game. No matter how fun the gameplay is, staying glued to the TV for 30-40 minutes on one tournament can be quite taxing. Beating the game is definitely a long battle and it will leave you feeling very tired by the end.
The standard rules for the race are set to 2 laps and 12 racers. The 2 laps part may sound pretty great at first, but they still take around 3-4 minutes per track so it still manages to be as long as the average Mario Kart stage..or even longer than those stages. 3 laps would have definitely been too much and even with 2, I think that some of the stages should have been a whole lot shorter. Like I said, the tournament mode basically burned me out so I definitely can’t think about playing this game again for a long time. At least solo, local multiplayer would still make for a lot of fun races.
One of the new gimmicks in this game is that getting to 1st place is only a secondary goal during the race. It’s highly recommended since it helps you get points in a tournament, but staying in the middle of the pack has its perks. You get points by ramming into the other racers and a whole bunch of them when you destroy a car. Every 1000 points gets you 1 real point so if you get 13000, it’s even better than coming in first. The best of both worlds is hitting a lot of cars and still managing to come in 1st, but that’s extremely difficult in the latter stages. I would sometimes come in 11th, but I smashed so many cars that I still got the most points. If you ask me, that’s definitely the best way to go about it. You can juke from side to side to hit the cars or do a spin move if they are right ahead of or behind you. The combat system is a lot of fun to play around with. You also gain energy as you move, which you can use to heal yourself or boost. As for the boosts, you can wait until you have 3 of them and use the ultimate boost.
Be warned that the ultimate boost is great, but it is tough on the eyes. You go so fast that you don’t even need to steer as it just takes you through the course, but the game can’t really keep up. You colors start to turn purple and orange and the screen gets very blurry. You’ll even lose sight of the racers as things start to get loopy and I have a feeling that the developers were just having a little fun there. It’s still something that you’ll definitely want to be aware of if your eyes are weak against flashing lights. They definitely make me feel tired, but my glasses protect me from that kind of thing.
Naturally, this doesn’t speak very well for the graphics. They’re actually pretty decent when they work, but I’ll have to give this area a failing grade. The boosts should not make the screen as chaotic as they do and the game gets way too blurry for me to say that it is acceptable. If not for the graphics part of the game you probably wouldn’t be able to even tell that it is a cash in for the film.
Although, one tip off is the stage selection. Initially it looks like there are a lot of tracks. After all, you are playing on over 100 of them during the tournament mode. The trick is that a lot of the stages are simply recycled over and over again. Some of them are technically different, but just about the whole track will be the same aside from a slight twist. The background and road for most of the stages are identical so there was definitely not a whole lot of effort put into them. It can certainly make the game more repetitive than it would have been with unique tracks. The final two levels are basically the same with the difference being that the final level has opera style music.
Speed Racer’s soundtrack is definitely very good. It’s a little limited to be sure, but it fits the intensity of the races. It’s all very fast and the climatic sounding theme in the final stage is really fun as well. Racing games definitely need a good soundtrack since nobody wants to race with a boring theme playing in the background. Luckily, Speed Racer delivers on this front.
Typically, glitches aren’t a problem in a video game since they are rare occurrences that you may miss when you’re playing the game. That being said, it’s much easier to run through them when you have to play a game for as long as I played this one. It’s not uncommon to just fall through a stage or get launched off the rails. There are many times where you are not supposed to fall off the stage, but you are using your triple boost so you just go flying out of the level. Once I just fell through half of the stage and instantly fell into a big hole over in last place. The glitches still don’t occur too often, but they are certainly noticeable this time.
It’s definitely commendable that the game has so many playable characters. There may even be 50 as I lost count, but you tend to unlock 2-3 per tournament. There are many guys that you’ll never have even heard of here. I stuck with Speed Racer through all of the levels, but maybe you’ll find a character who catches your eye and forces you to change from the famous mach 5. You definitely won’t want to discount the possibility.
For replay value, there really isn’t a whole lot to be found here. Once you beat the game, you do unlock mirror mode so you can play a bunch of tournaments in reverse. You’ll probably find that you’re way too tired to do such a thing after the main mode, but it does add to the game’s length I suppose. After that, you’ll want to hope that you have someone to play the game with since there will be nothing left to do. The multiplayer option is the main reason why I ended up giving this game a 7 over the 6 after all.
Overall, Speed Racer is a pretty fun game. The actual gameplay is really a blast and it really says something about how good it is when you consider how many levels I had to play in this game. The stages are just a little too long, but the tournaments actually do auto save so you can turn the game off in the middle of one if you need too. Knowing this, that actually helps the game a whole lot, but I didn’t find out until the end. It only minimizes the problem though as the stages really should be shorter. The graphics look very sci fi esque, but they’re still too crazy and blurry. The music is good and the character roster is very impressive. If you are by yourself, I recommend the game, but it’ll be a shorter experience. If you have someone to play it with, then this game is definitely one of the ultimate racing titles and you’ll really want to play it. Just watch out for those glitches!