Split Second Review

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It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

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Billy the Wizard: Rocket Broomstick Racing Review

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Only 14 reviews onto the blog will have reached 1000 reviews total. Not too shabby if I do say so myself! What better way to keep the ball rolling than by bringing in another Wii game with a very dubious reputation. I’m talking about none other than Billy the Wizard. While the game may not be able to keep his name straight, I have to give it some major kudos for actually being fairly original. The parts that aren’t an obvious Harry Potter rip off anyway. The idea of 3D races while on broomsticks is actually quite impressive. It’s just a shame that the gameplay mechanics weren’t quite up to the challenge.

There is no story mode here so don’t get your hopes up too high. Honestly, you should always go into a Wii review with very low hopes since I have played most of the good ones by this point in time. You have 4 different modes to choose from and each one has 6 stages in it. That’s not a bad start right? Well, the first mode is tutorial. It’s actually fairly challenging to beat one of the final levels in that one, but I pulled through. Not a bad way to start off the game I guess, but by then I had already realized that the controls were completely and utterly terrible. Unlike Super Kart GP, this one insists on using the nunchuk as well. Big mistake. Just about everyone who owns a Wii likely remembers how sad and insulting the Nunchuk was to fellow gamers. It was basically Nintendo’s way of hitting us while we were down because the motion controls weren’t emphasized as much, but it didn’t matter because the nunchuk was still a bad controller.

In this case, the nunchuk is still mainly used as a motion controller, but you still have to use the Wii Remote as well. They both help with turning, but it’s awful confusing and you’ll be scratching your head by the end. Racing is virtually impossible and from the 4 modes, that was the only one that I couldn’t beat. Forget about beating all 6 races, I couldn’t even handle the first one. It’s insane just how difficult it is. You can’t simply race to the finish line. You have to also go through every ring in the level and missing one is fatal so you can’t go too fast. The problem is that the other racers are travelling at full speed at all times, which gets rather dicey. They won’t just pass you, these kids want to watch you squirm. What I mean by that, is that they will blast you with energy attacks. You can fire back as well by waving the Wii remote, but that doesn’t always work so well while racing. You can imagine how easy it is to run off the track when something like that occurs. I ultimately had to choose not to fire anything, but then I’d lose regardless. The races are definitely the worst part about the game and the irony is that this is technically a racing game.

The third mode has you flying around to collect books. You merely need to pass through all of the books scattered in the level in order to complete it. With a compass and how well lit the stages are, this is a breeze. It may have been on the easy side, but at least it was fun and not tedious. Billy finally scored and the final mode was also fairly decent. This one was about blasting Dragons away. You just had to spam your energy blasts and hope that they landed on the dragons. It beat a few levels with only seconds to spare so this one was definitely quite tricky. Just keep on blasting and when in doubt, blast some more. It will ultimately help you out and the dragons won’t stand a chance.

The cover art is really misleading so I feel like I should warn you about that. The back hints that you get to have a really cool totally 3D race that looks like something out of a Mario Party minigame. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The picture is actually taken from one of the loading screens and cropped appropriately to trick the audience. It’s what the game does…and it does it well. I guess the developers were willing to do just about anything in order to sell a few more copies.

Graphically, this game will fail to impress you. The dragon doesn’t really look like a dragon. I’ll give the landscape some mild props I suppose as it doesn’t look all that bad. It needs some work, but it’s not as bad as it could be. The soundtrack is terrible though as the main theme is officially overused. It’s quite telling when games like Madden…which aren’t exactly known for their great musical selections, have a more energetic song list. Most of the songs are quite sad so you need to definitely take this on a case by case basis, but at least they put in some effort over there. I couldn’t feel any effort with Billy the Wizard.

I suppose you could say that there is a reasonable amount of replay value here thanks to multiplayer mode. Playing with a friend is always better than playing by yourself in a game like this. It won’t make the game worth 20 dollars or anything like that, but it can slightly help the game out in the long run I suppose. It’ll have to do at any rate as this game won’t really be offering you anything else.

Overall, Billy the Wizard is exactly what you would expect when you check to see who made the game. The company has always set the bar low and then they crawl under it. While the gameplay is fairly unique, there’s nothing really positive to say about it. The execution simply wasn’t handled all that well at all and you’ll be done with most of the game’s content in roughly an hour or so…probably much sooner. If you want to play a racing game, go and play F Zero GX. That game had hype, presentation, and good controls. Billy could learn a thing or two from that title.

Overall 4/10

Myth Makers Super Kart GP Review

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“Myth Makers, Start your engines!” is how every race in this game starts and it is a good way to build up the Myth Makers brand. Even if you don’t want to remember the title of the game, the choice is taken away from you as soon as the race starts. After playing Trixie’s little Candyland adventure, I realized that I was in for the long haul with this franchise. Super Kart GP was the next logical step on my Ninjabread man tour and this game manages to be somewhat decent. It’s still at a really low budget and the controls are a mess, but it feels a little more like an actual game than the other titles. There is even a lot of content here…even if it is rather tedious.

There is no plot of course so you will want to just launch right into the races. You can play quick races against A.I. or a human player or you can go to the Grand Prix mode. Playing with friends is probably how you will have the most fun playing this title. That way you can poke fun at the title and really make the most of it. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of your time in the Grand Prix. There are 3 different speed settings and in those speed settings there are three different difficulty levels. After you get past that, there are 5 different cups for you to enter. Each cup has 4 stages and beating them all will give you a lot of bragging rights.

That’s a lot of replay value for this kind of game right? The stages aren’t long and each one can be beaten in around 3-6 minutes, but they add up. If that’s about 12-24 minutes per tournament and there are 15 in all, that’s not half bad. There is one catch though and it is a fairly big one. There aren’t unique stages in the cups. From my estimation, there appear to only be around 4-5 different stages. One or two of them may have a night time variation that is virtually identical, but that’s about it. A bit of a shame if you ask me eh? That means that the cups are completely arbitrary and the only real benefit is having the personal satisfaction of completing them. Otherwise, you could just play the stages in free play mode and it’ll be around the same thing. I don’t see why the game couldn’t have added more stages. “Have you ever made a game, DReager1?” No, but I sure have played some in the past and many more stages could have been added imo.

Ah well, let us move past that. One other aspect of replay value here is the fact that you can buy characters with the stars that you earn on the track. Run into as many of them as you can and hope that the computers don’t attack you or you will drop a lot of them. By the time you complete the first 5 stages you should have probably unlocked the first character. There are 5 unlockables I believe and getting them all wouldn’t take a crazy amount of time, but probably more than you are willing to put in. It’s also handled very oddly as the first character you unlock has the worst stats in the game. She has a 1 in two out of the three areas and a 2 in the other. Compare this to Trixie who is the main character and also has the best stats in the game. I believe that all 3 of her stats are maxed out, which is quite crazy.

Granted, speed may not be all that important to you with this gameplay. It just means that you’ll be sliding off of walls and crashing a lot more. Slow and steady is enough to win this race. You hold the Wii remote sideways and try to steer as you go through the levels. The controls are easy as pie, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good. The motion controls simply don’t work well with the Wii so you’ll struggle quite a lot as you play. It’s manageable, but I wouldn’t call it that fun at times. There are items like in Mario Kart (Same style of item block) and if you look closely, you’ll notice a lot of other things that they rip off from the series. The item variety is very limited though and while you also have a final smash, you probably won’t get to use it. It simply takes too many stars to use and by then the race is over or you’ll have fallen way behind as you try to collect them all.

The soundtrack keeps on using the same tunes from the other titles like Ninjabread Man. People must have gone crazy while making these games since they will have been listening to the same song over and over and over again. Even if there was another tune or two in this game, you’ll quickly forget it as the main theme is burned into your mind. I’d say that the graphics are fairly decent compared to some abstract art, but I’ve seen Super Nintendo games with more creativity. You can always tell what is happening on screen, but that’s where the buck stops.

Overall, While this racing game may not be a bad steal if you can find it for a few bucks, you may as well get a better one. There is no shortage to racing games on any console so this should be at the bottom of a very long bucket list. The only real incentive to purchase this is Trixie. She still grins a lot as always and even has her iconic “Take that Bustah!” lines sprinkled in. It’s hard to tell what she is saying at times since the audio quality isn’t that good, but I’ll assume that the game will get patched at some point if it gets a remake. There is more to do here than in the average game of Myth Makers and it just barely keeps Super Kart GP from falling into the negative area.

Overall 5/10

Need For Speed Underground Review

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This is a game that I’ve owned for maybe 5-6 years at this point. It’s certainly been a very long time and I had played it off and on for a few years. Finally, I decided to crack down on it and complete the game once and for all about a month ago. After many races, I finally did manage to take the game down. I can safely say that it’s not perfect and some areas do hurt it, but as a racing game, it is very good.

The plot involves a new racer in town. This is the guy that you play as and he’s ready to move up the ranks. One of the ladies involved in the scene helps to get you ready and gives you intel about the other racers as you move up the ranks. You must become the best racer in every type of race to get to the end. After a lot of races, you are ready to fight the big boss. The main villain is someone who has plagued you for some time so you’ve been waiting for this. There is actually a secret final boss where a mysterious racer shows up and challenges you. The twist of who is inside it is slightly expected as there weren’t many characters in the game, but it’s still pretty neat. It’ll remind you of the final F Zero GX level.

First off, I have to criticize Story Mode. There are 118 levels in the game. That’s a whole lot of levels and while it is always good for a game not to be too short, this is simply overdone. It took me a grand total of 609 races to complete the 118 levels. If they were 118 original levels, that’s one thing, but most of the time you will be racing on the exact same tracks. Over and over again. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 20 tracks given how often it would be the same ones. Sometimes they would be mirrored to try and trick you, but I count that as the same stage.

118 levels is definitely too much if you ask me. The levels are also decently challenging so just around 40-50 would have still made for a decently long game. Again, it took 609 tries for 118 levels, which shows you just how tricky these levels can be. Sometimes I would have to try a level about 30 times and would only end up winning because my opponent would crash and I would take the chance to leap to victory. I did enjoy that part though as a lot of racing games just make the A.I. completely perfect so they never crash into anything. It’s safe to say that this is more realistic as nobody should be able to navigate these levels without crashing or at least banging into the side rails.

Finally, my other negative would be the soundtrack and it’s actually significant enough to take away an entire star. It’s just downright terrible and they’re going for an underground feel. As such, most of the music isn’t enjoyable to listen too and I’m pretty sure that they’re not very appropriate. That being said, the lyrics are hard to hear since the singers are fairly bad and I ended up just turning the music off for most of the races so I would just hear the sound effects. Trust me, it’s not nearly as fun and it’s sad that I had to go that far.

Otherwise, the game is great as a racing title. The actual gameplay is a lot of fun and while there is a slight nitro boost, you’re essentially playing a normal racing game for the most part. That was a lot of fun and the controls are much smoother than Hot Pursuit 2’s. I can see the gameplay getting even better with the newer additions and this is the main reason as to how I could stick with the game throughout so many races. They would get tough as times and I would have to replay levels, but the gameplay was fun enough that I didn’t mind as much as I could have. I only learned about the power braking towards the end though, which is too bad since it would have been very helpful in a lot of the drift levels.

There is a lot of customizing to be done here and it’s typically required to upgrade your car every 20 levels or so. By the time that you are done, your car will be maxed out in just about everything and you’ll be moving at really high speeds. It’s a double edged sword of course as it can be easy to crash and instead of going with the best car, you may want to consider a slower model. I tried that for a while, but then I remembered that I love to go fast so I used the fastest car for the final levels. I’d say that it’s worth it unless the level has a lot of sharp turns.

The graphics are decently good. I definitely like how the levels look as well as the cars. The human designs are the ones that do tend to look a little iffy as they are pretty undetailed, but I suppose that most of the time working on this game was spent on the environments and cars. That would make a lot of sense so it’s all right that the humans don’t look great. The graphics aren’t perfect, but they get the job done and you can typically see the levels clearly although the overall game is pretty dark so you may need to increase the lighting.

This game was quite the adventure and I’ll definitely be enjoying a nice break from it. Once I’m ready to get back in the saddle again, I’ll buy Underground 2. The only problem is that I’ve heard that it has over 200 levels this time. That sounds even more extreme and I can’t say that I’m too enthusiastic about that, but I want to make it to the newer games already so I shall power through it.

Overall, Need For Speed Underground has improved from Hot Pursuit 2. The gameplay is great and that would have usually been enough to have given the game an 8 star rating. The soundtrack held it back along with the tedious story mode. Seriously, no game should take you over 600 races to complete. That’s simply overdone. The difficulty level was good as it was tough to complete the game, but not overly difficult where you will be wondering how the A.I. can move so fast. Some of the levels were a tad long though and I think that they should all be 3 laps at the most instead of 5-6. Let me tell you, replaying a 6 lap race more than once is no picnic. I definitely recommend getting this game if you are looking for a good racing experience, just have your MP3 player by your side during the races. There are some brief cutscenes which is cool, but there aren’t many of them.

Overall 7/10

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed Review

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All right, it’s time to look at the sequel to the other Sonic racing game! I got the other one not too long ago so you’re probably wondering why I got this one so fast right? I got the first one for Christmas and I bought the sequel at the beginning of March so that’s only about a 2 month gap between the two games. What can I say…the first game was just that good! I knew that I needed the sequel and I have seen some declare that it is one of the greatest racing games of all time…maybe even ever! (By default as some have said that it possibly defeats Mario Kart 8. That was before the DLC though so maybe things have changed)

This game has more of a “story” mode than the other title as the main menu is called World Tour. There is no plot or story, but you do have to complete levels to unlock the next ones and you go from world to world. So, it’s a story mode without the actual story. I always liked this kind of set up because it really feels like you got to complete the game after you wrap it up. No worries though, we’ve still got Grand Prix Mode as well. There are quite a lot of levels in World Tour mode so you’ll likely be here for quite a while. Depending on what difficulty level you beat the game on, you can earn 1-4 stars per level.

That’s where the artificial replay value comes in. To unlock some of the final, extra levels in the last world, you must get a whole lot of stars. This means going back and doing a lot of the older missions on tougher and tougher difficulty levels. I thought that this was certainly a bit much, but for many fans that won’t be a problem. The gameplay is pretty fun after all so going back and playing the events again isn’t bad. Replaying the tournament missions is another story, but you don’t need to have literally every star to beat the final levels as far as I know.

World Tour is also where you unlock a majority of the characters and mods. The more stars that you get, the more gates that you can open for unlockable secrets. It’s a nifty system and it always feels particularly thrilling to unlock a new character or custom mod. As I mentioned earlier, we also still have Grand Prix mode, where you can play all the stages as they were meant to be played. Time Attack Mode is a given and naturally, we’ve got the multiplayer option as well.

There’s certainly a lot to do in this game so even without going back and doing old levels, you’ve got more than enough content here to warrant the 60 dollar purchase. Of course, you can likely get this game for a third of that at this point. The PS3 trophies to collect is also another piece of the puzzle to consider. I don’t plan on getting the Platinum here thanks to those tricky online trophies, but I got a decent amount of trophies before I put the game back on the shelf. Perhaps I’ll go back and get some more at some point, but for now I’m definitely satisfied. Each character gains exp when you race as them and you can work to max everyone out. I got Sonic to the final level as I used him for almost all of the World Tour events, but I didn’t get around to the other characters. It’s a nice incentive to make you want to play as every character. There’s even more things to do here that I haven’t touched upon so content is not a concern.

As for the actual gameplay, it’s definitely more arcade styled. The game definitely lives up to the billing there and that will decide whether you prefer it to the previous game or not. I actually liked the style in the other game more, but they’re fairly similar and this one’s still a blast. This game does introduce two new features, which are the boat and plane gimmicks. You can transform during the race at designated spots, which results in a fun change of pace for the gameplay and you get to really zoom through the courses. Perhaps a little ironic, but I prefer the traditional car gameplay to both the plane and the boat, but they are still fun methods of travelling around. You can grab items as you go through the course and naturally, the goal is to get to the finish line first. That doesn’t sound too hard right?

The A.I. is actually much better in this game than the previous one. I think it’s at a pretty good level. It’s tough enough that the levels are not a walk in the park, but it’s not too difficult that you will find it to be a little cheap. The controversial decision to make the computers input readers in Smash Bros was dicey as it is, but the computers here seem relatively fair. Just be prepared to bring your A game to the table for each round and you should be okay.

Graphically, this game certainly looks stunning. You can instantly tell that this is a PS3 level title as all of the details look flawless. Sega spared no expense for this title and you can tell that it came out back when Sonic was still a prominent figure in their plans. All of the levels are crisp with a great amount of detail and the oceans look especially good. You will certainly miss the graphics once you turn your TV off.

Audio wise, the game fares just as well. The stage themes are nice and cheerful, while also being fast enough to keep up with the gameplay. Sonic’s themes are typically the best by far, but we also get some more opera styled themes for the final levels. As this is a cross over, you can expect music from other games as well. While I know all about Monkey Ball’s themes, the rest of the series are all new to me so hearing their music is always fun. The city levels tend to have some really fun themes to listen too.

After a lot of thought, I do think that the first Sonic All Stars Racing game beats this one. At least, in terms of gameplay. That being said, it certainly loses in just about every other area and it can probably be tough to go from Racing Transformed to just Racing. The first game simply doesn’t look quite as good and there are less guest star racers in that game. Pure gameplay is typically what counts the most so the older one still takes the lead, but Transformed is certainly on the same level and deserves the hype that it has gotten. Now, if only they could throw Mario in the game so that we can call it a crossover!

Overall, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is a great follow up to the first game. The racing is as fun as ever and the graphics are intense. Aside from racing, some of the events will have you fight other racers or even dodge traffic. Dodging traffic is always a lot of fun for me and it’s easily one of my favorite events in the game. If you plan on doing everything that there is to accomplish here, you should be prepared to spend a lot of time playing this game. It’s certainly worth the money and I can only hope that Sega decides to make a third game to finish up the trilogy at some point. Sonic has definitely proved that he can hold his own racing title and Mario Kart has a legitimate rival now. I definitely recommend buying this game when you get the chance!

Overall 8/10

Excitebots Trick Racing Review

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All right, let’s check out another game from the legendary 5 dollar bin! It’s games like this that make the bin so worth it for me because this is a hidden gem that I likely would have never played otherwise. It’s certainly not going to be the next Mario Kart of F-Zero, but Excitebots ended up being pretty fun and certainly worth the 5 bucks.

There is no plot so you are free to jump into the grand prixes. There are 5 different cups and each one has 4-5 different races in it. This title is a little different than most racing games as getting to 1st place is heavily encouraged, but there are other aspects in place. See, this game is also a bit of a stunt racing game as the amount of stars that you have in the end is what ultimately matters. Coming in first gives you an extra 55 as opposed to the 15 in second so that’s a good reason to get to 1st place, but you also want to do a lot of tricks along the way. No worries, they come rather naturally.

You get stars for drifting and bumping into other cars. If you decide to drive into a forest, you get a star for every tree that you dodge. The stars add up quickly there, but it is typically much more dangerous than the normal path so you have to decide if your driving skills are up to par. If you hit something, then you’ll quickly be taken back a little bit, which can eat up your time although it’s not all that bad. You’ll still be okay even if you crash a few times. Just make sure that you get the stars first. Naturally, you also have a nitro boost that you can activate quite often. You just can’t use too much of it at once or you will overheat so make sure to use it gradually and in bursts.

All of what I just mentioned was already in Excite Truck so let’s get into the new features for this title. This game placed a lot more emphasis on the Motion Controls than the older game. For starters, you’ll see various poles throughout the race. You will then have to make a motion with your Wii Remote depending on what color the pole is. Typically it will require you to make a sudden push forward or to act as if you are making a circular motion. To be honest, this is an addition that I definitely would have preferred to not have made the cut. Getting the motions can be as tough as you think considering the Wii Remote’s dicey reputation and it doesn’t add anything to the game. I can guarantee that the game would be even better without this gimmick although it certainly doesn’t hurt the game all that much. It was just a little unnecessary.

One of the new additions that I did like was the item boxes and tools that would appear. You can get items like some teeth to throw at enemies or a fishing rod to get some fish/stars. The items are typically fun and if you get a wrench, then you can turn into your true robot form. This was a good addition to the game and I’m glad that they added it. I certainly would like to play without any nitro or items as an option as well, but if you’re going to have some gimmicks, then you may as well add them all in right? You can play a lot of the individual minigames in minigame mode in case you really like one. There’s also a Poker Mode, but I decided not to try it out. It didn’t really pique my interest.

There are many other ways to search for stars during the race, but I’ll allow you to find those on your own. The actual gameplay is very smooth, which helps to negate the Wii Remote’s handling. The Wii Remote actually works well enough here. I would still prefer almost any other remote, but it’s passable as you have to hold it sideways to play this game, which has always been the best way to use the Wii Remote for a racing game. Each race is only about 2-5 minutes so they’re short, which helps to make them very exciting. Nothing’s worse than playing a really long race only to discover that you’ve lost and have to play it all over again.

The graphics are sound and the robots all look good. This is certainly no Mario Galaxy, but it’s still a big step above titles like Casper and Rudolph. The graphics are not bad, nor are they very good. They’re simply caught in the middle, but that’s not a bad thing. The designs still compliment the races rather well, which is all that I could ask of the title. The soundtrack is great, but I would expect no less from such a solid racing title. All of the themes are fast and intense, which lets you really feel like you’re in the race. Racing games have had a superb track record when it comes to the music included in them and this game does not disappoint here.

Completing the cups won’t take you very long. There are 24 courses and all of them are short, but you have to consider that you will be getting this game for a bargain price. Also, there is a good amount of replay value. If you get S ranks on all levels, then you can unlock the Super Excite difficulty so that you can play the stages yet again. Moreover, there are many things to buy with your stars. That’s where it gets to be a bit much though.

For starters, you have to actually buy the alternate colors for your vehicles. You have to buy the vehicles and then you also buy avatars for your profile and statues of your cars. This gives you a lot to buy, but earning stars isn’t so simple. For example, you will earn around 200-300 per race, but most of the cars are 2500-5000. I ended up with around 5000 stars when I beat the game so I bought one car. Imagine how long it would take to buy the 20+ profiles, 20 statues, colors, and cars. Certainly longer than I’d really be willing to play this game. I actually did bother to do the S ranks for Excite Truck, which shows how much fun these games are, but it’s not the kind of thing that I’d probably do now. Nowadays, Super Smash Bros is probably one of the only games where I’d actually go that far. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay here is still a lot of fun, but I’ve got a lot of games to play so it’s best that I move on while I can.

Overall, Excitebots is a fun racing title. It’s certainly a lot better than you would expect upon looking seeing the cover and you should certainly give it a chance. It’s a short, but fun experience and the actual gameplay is quite good. It’s fairly unique for a racing game and you’ll have fun earning those stars as you beat the levels. The soundtrack is really good and the graphics are sound so this game really has no weak points. There’s also a multiplayer mode to boost the replay value a little higher. Yes, this is one of those 5 dollar bargain bin titles that is really tough to top.

Overall 7/10

Cruis’n Review

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It’s time to look at another title from the legendary 5 dollar bin. Let’s face it, it’s always an honor to pick out a game from that selection and I specifically went to a new Gamestop when I heard that they were still carrying this title. Cruis’n is everything that I had hoped for from the screen shots and while it is a pretty short game, it does have a decent amount of replay value to keep it relevant.

There are 13 races and you get to challenge them in Circuit Mode. Landing in the top 3 allows you to move onto the next stage. It is true that you can theoretically complete this game in under an hour since the average race is 2 minutes or less, but but you’re bound to lose at least a few times so beating it in an hour can still be tricky. Keep in mind that you may need to swap cars during this adventure as your first one will likely have some pretty underwhelming specs compared to the first one.

Winning a race gives you some spending money, which you can use to buy your next car. I bought most of them and ended up with 3 left. I guess I shouldn’t say “buy” though. When you get enough money, you automatically unlock the car. The final car needs you to have 2 million dollars and I ended the game with a little over one million. You earn 100 grand for each first place so just 10 more races would have been enough to have achieved that. I was tempted to do that so that I could say that I 100% completed the game, but there’s ultimately not a whole lot of point to doing such a thing so I took a pass on that. Perhaps I will go back for that someday.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward for a racing game. There are no items or real gimmicks here aside from the casual boost. You can boost three times and it gives you a decent chunk of extra speed, but it’s not too drastic so it doesn’t take the balance away from the game. Since this is an arcade style game you really have a lot of freedom as you drive around. You can break into a building and watch with awe as you look at the fun details. The fact that the developers actually designed the insides of the building is pretty neat since there’s a good chance that you could beat the game without ever going inside. Turning works pretty well and the gameplay is a lot of fun. The game will quickly reset you to the right direction if you’re spun around for too long so you never have to worry about stopping. Just power through to the goal!

Cruis’n is also purely a motion control game as you hold the Wii remote sideways and tilt to turn. Surprisingly, it actually does a good job with these controls and you’ll never have to adjust the Wii sensor or back away when you realize that the controls are not working. Everything works almost perfectly here and that was definitely neat. Once again, I have to stress that this isn’t your average 5 dollar bin game.

One aspect that I liked about the gameplay was the unique addition of random cars on the tracks. A lot of games like Mario Kart have experimented with other cars acting as obstacles, but not to the degree that this game throws them in. Most of the stages have dozens of cars blocking the way in the stages and bumping into one of them can critically hurt your chances of reaching 1st place. They are sometimes driving in the same direction as you or going in the opposite direction so you’ve always got to stay sharp. It’s why using your boost can be a risky endeavor.

The graphics are actually very good and that’s where I disagree with most reviews. The general consensus seems to be that the graphics are pretty bad, but everything actually looks pretty sharp. I am quickly reminded of the racing game that I used to play on the computer over a decade ago. The cars and stages are similar to that as well as the gameplay. I loved that game and still consider it to be one of the best racing games of all time. This title may not be quite as good, but it’s still pretty great and that goes for the graphics as well. Most of the game takes place in the night it is impressive to see how clear the game looks. I definitely have no qualms in this area.

The area where I do have some qualms with the game is the music. The soundtrack tries to be edgy or ghettoish, which results in some good tunes, but the overall music leaves much to be desired. It’s why I’m not even a fan of the average Madden title as the music gets a little too out there. For racing, I just want fast paced themes with no lyrics. That will let me race to the best of my ability with no distractions. In a game like this, you certainly will need to focus.

I also have to take away points for the suggestive content in this game. As this is underground racing, the game has a scantily clad lady holding up the “Ready Set Go” sign and she’ll also dance in the background when you take first place. Throw in the sad voice when you are going through the modes and it takes away some of the wow factor from the game. We definitely didn’t need this and more games should just play it straight if they really want to win. From the voices, the only one that I actually like is the creepy laugh. It pops up randomly during the game and that can definitely be pretty intense.

Now, the main reason why this is in the 5 dollar bin is probably because of the lack of content. After you unlock all of the races, then you can unlock a handful of cars. Unlocking those will give you some more options, but there’s nothing to do with them. Playing the stages is the only thing to do aside from the classic Multiplayer mode. You can upgrade each car to its maximum potential by participating in races with all of them, but even the average perfectionalist probably wouldn’t bother with all of that. So the multiplayer mode makes up the majority of the replay value, which means that you will probably want to have someone to play this game with. Otherwise, it’s certainly going to be a very short experience.

Overall, Cruis’n is a very fun racing game. Keep in mind that it’s only about 3-4 dollars for a reason, but it’s well worth the price. Given the fact that you could be done with it in 30-60 minutes, I could understand being disappointed if you bought it for 30. Even 20 dollars would have been a stretch, but for under 5 dollars I think this is sufficient. The levels that you do play are pretty great and the A.I. actually manages to keep things competitive. It never gives up and all it takes is one wrong turn to throw you from 1st to 8th. The graphics are better than expected and they easily hold up against any racing game. The suggestive content can make you wince, but it’s still not as bad as it could have been and it disappears once you are actually in the race. I definitely recommend this title and now I’m looking forward to seeing what racing game I play next. Let’s just say that we may not have to wait very long for that. Also, it should be known that I used the Pontiac Firebird during my playthrough since they didn’t have the Quest. It’s a very reliable car and I recommend using it when you play this game.

Overall 7/10

Speed Racer Review

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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!

Overall 7/10

Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Review

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It’s time to wrap up the big three racing games that I got for Christmas. Pac Man World Rally was pretty fun, but it could have been better. Mario Kart DS was about as fun as I could have expected, but it’s safe to say that Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing easily took the win here. It’s very fun and I can see why the case is made that it could give Mario Kart a fair challenge. The game is certainly very good and while it may be a stretch to say that it’s better than Mario Kart….it’s getting there.

There is no plot of course and there are 24 courses to play in. They are divided into 6 different cups so that you only have to play 4 courses back to back. Completing the cups can help you obtain trophies and points that you can spend at the shop for more tracks, (For 2 player purposes) characters, and music. There are certainly a lot of things to buy, which can be daunting at first, but earning money in this game is surprisingly easy so that makes it a lot more fun. You can earn about 10000+ points for completing any of the latter cups, which is over 3000 points a stage. That’s definitely not a bad bet.

Speaking of which, the trophies in this game are pretty reasonable for the most part. They will take some time since a trophy requires you to get 750000 points, but that’s not a bad grind compared to many other games. It should be pretty easy if you enjoy the game and you may even get it naturally. The only trophies that I don’t care for are the online ones since those are definitely asking for a bit too much. Unless a match is rigged, how are you going to lap someone? That person would have to be playing extremely poorly for that to happen unless we had a stage similar to Baby Park in Mario Kart…and even that is a stretch. There is also a trophy for racing a friend…let’s just say that this can be problematic. On the whole, the trophies are certainly reasonable since most of them are just long. That being said, I likely won’t be getting the Platinum here.

I enjoyed the level designs here a lot and I dare say that they look better than Pac Man World Rally’s as well as the levels in Mario Kart DS. That being said, this mainly applies to the Sonic stages. I don’t care for most of the Monkey Ball or Party Monkey stages and Sonic’s tend to be the best ones. The Haunted Mansions and City levels are also a lot of fun of course and the stages usually have a shortcut or two to spice things up. One short cut is so great that it’s almost impossible to win without it. I think that this is a bit much, but it does force you to learn where it is before you can finish off the cup.

The gameplay is pretty much what you would expect from a racing styled game, but it all handles so smoothly that you will still be impressed. Naturally, you have to make it to the finish line and you use items that you pass by to help you achieve that goal. You can attack other racers or just focus on speeding your way through to the finish line. Drifting is very important here since you get a considerable boost from using this technique. It’s as good as a mushroom from Mario kart or even better since the boost lasts for several seconds. Likewise, performing tricks on the air will give you a similar effect. Technique is important here and while the items do balance things out, it can be the difference between the 1st and 2nd place racers.

Graphically, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing manages to hit it out of the park once again. Every character design looks flawless and the graphics are definitely PS3 level. Everything is really colorful and it just pops out at you. This applies to everything in the game. From the backgrounds to the items, nothing in this game is lacking in detail or looks out of place. It may just be the best looking racing game that I’ve played, but naturally I have not played Mario Kart 8 yet. Until then, Sonic’s going to have to take the win there.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. I actually found it to be a little too limited at first since the character’s All Star moves always give them their theme. You will likely hear Eggman and Amy’s a lot since they constantly get their super attacks and then any stage from a certain video game where the stages are all in the city always has the exact same theme. It’s a good theme, but I like variety. Of course, that’s when I noticed that I still had over 30 songs to purchase. That ought to help a great deal and I consider the game’s soundtrack to be pretty good with them. I definitely wouldn’t call it excellent though and that’s mainly due to the fact that it takes tunes from many different games. I like just about all of Sonic’s themes, but I definitely don’t care for the party ones or for Monkey Ball. Their themes just don’t work for such a fast and explosive racing game.

How’s the overall value for the game? Well, the 6 cups won’t last you very long since it’s roughly 4 minutes per race with only 24 in the game. So, the game will barely last 90 minutes if you just count that, but there is a whole lot more to do. Trying to get the Platinum Trophy will mean that you’ll definitely have to play it for a few days and let’s not forget about buying everything at the shop. On the way to the Platinum you’ll need to master all of the missions as well and there are a little over 60 of those. I haven’t even touched that mode yet, but you can bet that I’ll certainly be trying it out soon. I always like tackling a good mission!

In the end, does this game beat Mario Kart? That’s very tough to say and especially since I’ve put in a few hours on this game and hundreds on Double Dash. It’s fair to say that this game automatically beats all of the portable Mario Kart titles and all of the other item based racers, but can it really beat the famous Mario Kart titles? It’s just hard to definitively say so. That being said, I don’t believe in ties so I will say that it is slightly better than Mario Kart, at least when you’re playing by yourself. We’ll see if it’s Mario Kart level in multiplayer or not eventually.

Overall, Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing is a great racing title. It really could be one of the best period and it’s a worthy rival to the Mario Kart series. I would just say that it is the best racing game of all time, but we have to consider the racing games without gimmicks and then things get tough once again. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel since I’ve heard that it’s even better. The gameplay is supposedly pretty different from this one, but I’m okay with that since it still sounds like lot of fun. After all, Transformed is the Sonic title that I’ve heard manages to maybe even defeat Mario Kart 8. It’ll be interesting to see if I agree with that. I recommend this to anyone who likes to enjoy a good racing game and for anyone who especially likes a chaotic racing game. You’re always moving at a very high speed so the excitement never dies down as you race for the Gold!

Overall 8/10

Pac Man World Rally Review

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For Christmas I decided to go with a racing theme with the video games. From the 6 that I got, 4 of them were in this genre and I managed to get one from the three big video game icons. You’ll find out what the Sonic and Mario games were soon, but Pac Man was the first one that I completed so it made sense to do this one first. It’s pretty fun and you can tell how it was inspired from Mario Kart, but it lacks the latter’s sheer intensity.

There is no plot of course and the goal is to beat all of the tournaments and ultimately unlock all of the racers and items. There are 15 levels in the game and they are divided up into 4 cups. After completing each cup, you will unlock the ultimate cup, which features all 16 races back to back. I have to admit that those gauntlet styled cups have never been my cup of tea. Imagine losing on the 14th or 15th race and having to do it all over again. It’s a pretty scary thought, but it ultimately must be done if you want more characters. To get all characters, you’ll need to beat all of the cups on hard and getting all of the items means eating a certain amount of ghosts in each cup. That definitely helps the replay value aspect since locked content is always fun to unlock.

The actual gameplay is very similar to Mario Kart, but with its own wrinkles and twists. There are 8 racers and the gameplay speed is similar to Double Dash’s. Along the way you’ll see a lot of items and you can use them to blast the person in first with a Paratroopa Blue Ghost or throw some red shells red ghosts. The game didn’t really try all that much with the items since many of them are not subtle knockoffs of Mario Kart. Instead of lightning, we get a lightning cloud here since I suppose that this makes everything okay. The items are still good of course, but they just aren’t original.

Each level has a shortcut that is blocked by a food door. To get past it, you’ll have to find the fruit switch somewhere on the stage and drive through it to unlock the fruit. After that, you must find the actual fruit and then head through the shortcut on the next lap. Typically, the shortcut is well worth the effort as long as you are able to get the fruit while you are driving. You do the same thing with pellets. First, you activate the switches and then you collect as many as possible. Once you have enough you can use your final smash. I have only used Pac Man’s so far, but it’s definitely solid. You get a new theme to play over the stage music and then you drive a little faster as you eat any cars that get in your way. Eating cars is important to unlock items so you’ll want to eat as many as possible. Occasionally an angelic ghost will appear to give you some pellets, but I’m not sure exactly why it comes to help. It seems like there is some sort of meter that triggers this, but I cannot confirm such a notion just yet.

I think that the game could have done a little better with the stage designs. I liked the final cup the most as the Retro Maze was a good idea and we finally got a city level. The thing is..the first three cups are filled with landscapes that simply aren’t very interesting. A game like this should have a lot of bright levels like Mario Kart Double Dash so you can marvel at the graphics as you drive. The city level towards the end is one of the only ones that I can think of which fits this category. Most of the others are fairly bleak and you’ll forget about them very quickly. There may have been an island level or two, but it’s simply not the same.

The graphics certainly aren’t as good as the other racing games on the console (F Zero and Mario Kart) and it definitely doesn’t look like a whole lot of effort was put into this game. The graphics simply aren’t that good and I would compare them to the MnM game, which is pretty bad. The graphics actually did hurt the game a little as it would be more fun with better graphics. Graphics are never the most important factor in a game, but they certainly play a big part in sport titles.

The soundtrack is as forgettable as the stage designs. You’ll naturally remember Pac Man’s sound effects from the Arcade Game and they are included here, but the themes just vanish in the wind. I can’t think of a single theme and I’m sure that I wouldn’t be able too even if I had just finished playing it moments before this review. It’s like elevator music. It’s typically decent while you’re in the elevator, but you end up forgetting it immediately after.

Needless to say, this game loses out to Sonic and Sega’s All Star Racing as well as to the Mario Kart titles. Pac Man World Rally just lacked a few things that it would need to compete with those two like great stages and fun items. The game can still be pretty fun of course, but it’s not the kind of game that you will want to keep on playing for very long. It would just get tedious and the battle mode is really what saves it from the fate of the 6 star game. Duking it out while on cars has always been a novel concept and while this game may not pull it off as well as Mario Kart of Sonic Riders, it’s cool that it still has it as an option. Just be warned that the games can last a while since the stages are rather large.

Overall, Pac Man World Rally is definitely not the ultimate racing game, but it’s pretty fun to play. It’s on the Gamecube, which is great news for the game because it means that it can support 4 player action and that’s always exciting. This is the kind of game that greatly benefits from that option and there are also many battle modes to try out if you don’t want to race. The replay value is definitely enough to keep you playing long after you’ve beaten the 4 cups since those, admittedly do not take all that much time. I definitely recommend checking this game out and you’ll just need to try and get past Pac Man’s insanely high pitched voice when he celebrates. It’s simply not the Pac Man that we are used too.

Overall 7/10