Christmas typically is a perfect time for me to get games for free, and I usually always get games that I want. Often, family members that I haven’t seen or talked to since the last Christmas ask me how tall I am and then hand me some money that I can spend. Then it’s off to the mall.
I was working the other night, processing the shipping that came in and I noticed that Midway had released a new game in their ”Cruis’n” series, this one for GBA. I had always loved the arcade versions, and the box called out to me to love it. A ten minute wait in line later and a gift certificate spent, I owned Cruis’n Velocity. I couldn’t wait to get home.
If only I’d known what that little cartridge housed, I would have never bought it.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s a racing game that involves you racing, as all games do. The fun thing about the arcade version is that you were inside the unit with a big seat and gas peddles and though the graphics were craptastic, it was a lot of fun. Sadly, the GBA does not have a cockpit for you to sit in, and Cruis’n Velocity proves to not be any different than any other crappy racing game.
But why is it so bad? Read on, if you dare…
Cruis’n Velocity has one major flaw: racing is not fun. At all. When I play a racing game, I want the thrill of high speed, superb handling and intelligent A.I. Is that a lot to ask for? I don’t really think that it is a high list of demands. Instead, you are treated to Cruis’n Velocity.
Cruis’n Velocity actually does have a good sense of speed, but you will never approach it. The game is full of hairpin turns and lots of other racers, so getting to a high speed is fairly impossible. Still, the game incorporates Nitro-boosting technology that gets you going really fast, though using it more often than not gets you into a crash.
I find it stupid of myself, demanding good control out of Cruis’n Velocity. It’s really not the games fault, it’s the GBA. Controlling a racing game with the GBA is uncomfortable, and the D-Pad creates odd turning limitations. Acceleration and Braking are set to the face buttons, while gear changes are set to the shoulders when in manual transmission. Still though, the control really messes up the gameplay.
For instance, one time I was racing down a narrow tunnel. I’m not going very fast, maybe 70mph or so. My opponents are passing me at blazing speeds, navigating the tunnel. I hit three of them, my speed is shot. I hit my boosters, seeing as it is so easy to navigate the tunnel and crash into a wall. Now I am in last place. Great!
The last major complaint I had with the game was simply that the A.I. could do no wrong and that the collision detection stinks. They could navigate all the turns, go as fast as they wanted and they would never crash. I mean, I am up for a challenge, but a challenge without realism is just irritating. As for the collision detection, I side-swipped someone once and my speed was ruined yet they kept going at top speed. If I graze someone’s side in turn, odds are both of us will slow down, not just one of us. Irritating.
Cruis’n Velocity has a few good things going for it. There are a lot of vehicles to choose from, even before you start unlocking them. From cop cars to taxi cabs, there is no shortage of cars to experiment with. The tracks are pretty different from one another as well, and prove pretty interesting if you have the patience to learn the design and layout of it. There are also three modes, though one must be unlocked. The cart features password save, quite possibly the stupidest invention ever.
The graphics in Cruis’n Velocity are fairly good as well. It is very similar to Mario Kart, just the backgrounds are much different. The tracks are easy to make out, the backgrounds to. There are a few issues though, like pop-up and some troubles seeing cars that are a little distance away. Other than that though, the graphics are pretty good for a 3D game on the GBA. The sound is pretty okay. The music is heavy metal style and the sound effects are pretty decent. Roaring engines are every where, as are tire-skid noises.
Overall, I think that a lot of effort probably went into making Cruis’n Velocity look good, but I don’t think nearly as much time went into making it play good. I am very disappointed in it; Midway could have done much more with such a great opportunity, but alas they did not follow through.