Beach King Stunt Racer
Hey kids, how many of you out there remember the true golden age of video-gaming, eh? And by that I’m not talking about saving the Earth from alien invaders or gobbling pills in a dark maze while dodging ghosts and listening to repetitive dance music, or anything like that, oh no. I’m talking about the days of driving around beaches collecting huge diamonds and pulling off big-ass stunts, just to impress the babes in bikinis. Remember those days, huh? No, I didn’t think so and neither do I.
Which was why it came as a bit of a shock the other day when this oddity arrived through the post. Developed by Davilex, a Dutch production house with presumably little experience in developing for the PS2, Beach King: Stunt racer is a game which pertains to doing just that, getting the girl. It plays essentially like a baby version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater, except this time you’re bouncing around the place, off ramps and half-pipes and what have you, in a colourful dune buggy. At the beginning of each level you pick a dude to play as, a babe to attempt to impress and off you go. To complete each level you need to collect 7 diamonds (it’s a bit like getting S-K-A-T-E, if you know what I mean) and amass a certain points score. Complete both objectives and the chick is yours to do with as you please. Err, within reason, that is.
So, collecting the diamonds is easy enough once you find them all, but what about amassing that high score? It’s like this: remember how in Tony Hawk you could skate off ramps and half-pipes and can do an outrageous combination of tricks, grabs, spins and somersaults? Well, Beach King scores in a similar way except that there are no tricks or grabs, just spins and flips. I’m sure you can imagine how moronic this starts to feel very quickly; once you’ve pulled off one 720 spinny round move, you’ve pretty much seen all there is to see in terms of flashiness in Beach King.
That is, except for the super stunt. This misnomer is predictably available when you ascertain a certain score. Suddenly, a little crown in the bottom right hand corner of the screen starts to flash (gold or silver depending on exactly how many points you’ve accumulated) indicating the jump is available. All you have to do now is hit a jump, smack ‘O’ and Bob’s your uncle; gravity defying special move. The thing is, it looks the part and everything but since you have no control over the actual move execution, it feels really detached. To tell you the truth, you can’t help but think ‘is that it?’ but then again, that’s all you’ve been thinking since you put the disc in your trusty black box in the first place.
So, let’s go over this again. Pick a guy, pick a babe, drive around the beach collecting diamonds and other point scoring stuff, pull that old spinny move off a couple of ramps and, um, repeat until your fingers bleed. When I say that’s it, that really is it. No really, that really is it, it’s as if the last ten years of video game evolution didn’t happen. This game is cheap, clocking in at only £14.99 on Amazon (and feel free to buy it by following the links to the right there), but when I say it’s cheap I’m not talking about the price. So much of this game smacks of a limited budget and that has obviously effected how much the development team can pull off. They clearly choose a cartoony feel early on because it’s a very easy style of graphics to code (most middleware tools can handle it without much extra tweaking) and the results aren’t exactly awe inspiring or anything. The handling of the buggies is just about adequate but it could have been better and it’s very easy to fall off the higher ledges; annoying when it’s taken you a good couple of minutes to get yourself up there. It doesn’t help that the scenery is all so cartoon bland and as such the long driving around bits get dull real quick. I found myself cursing those God forsaken diamonds on many an occasion.
In fact I could go on and on about how much of this game I didn’t like. There are no multiplayer options at all, and they’re a must for this kind of thing. The title screen music grates, there’s only one set of character animations for the babes you have to woo and you have to woo them all, and with each guy mind, to complete the game. Why you’d want to play this game to completion or at all though for that matter, I don’t know. Why Davilex decided to develop this game in the first place is also quite a mystery. There’s a wealth of good driving titles out on PS2 and this isn’t one of them. My review copy’s going to my 9 year old nephew and I bet he gets bored of it in one evening. Shame.