Have you ever played a video game that a lot of people don’t like, yet you find to be enjoyable? This is one such game. I never really knew why critics hated it, as I always thought this was a fun game. So in this review, I’ll try to shed a different light on this unappreciated gem. Without further adieu, let’s begin.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this game has amazing, state of the art, next gen graphics… By 1998 standards. Unfortunately, this game came out in 2002, so the graphics are actually a disappointment. I mean, yeah, it’s not cringe worthy or anything, and the game does have a decent amount of colors, but it’s all angular and polygonal, looking more like an N64 game than a GameCube game. The draw distance also isn’t the greatest, and it can be hard to see in front of you. Plus, it has some issues with clipping, especially when you go through a secret passage. To be fair, this is a port of an arcade game released in 2000, but graphics have already evolved quite a bit in those two years, so couldn’t they have updated the visuals for consoles? Yeah, I know I wanted to be more positive in this review, but the game just looks like ass. Sorry.
And unfortunately, for a review that was supposed to defend an unfairly maligned game, I have more negatives to say about the soundtrack. Or more accurately, the lack of one. See, this game has about three or four songs, and the worst part is, none of them are particularly good. Honestly, they would be considered generic electronic game music if it weren’t for one thing: The singing. Yeah, they decided to put singers in these songs, and it was not a good decision. The voices sound muffled, and it’s ridiculously difficult trying to decipher the lyrics. Add to that the fact that the songs have a really low budget, lo-fi feel to them (not in a good way, either) and the repetitive nature of the tracks, and you will get annoyed.
Yeah, try listening to that and not wanting to punch Steve Vidger (the sound designer) in his face. So yeah, the music sucks. Moving on.
Despite the visuals and sound being huge turn-offs, this game is actually quite fun to play. It mixes traditional racing elements with destruction and arcade style insanity. There aren’t many tracks in the game, but hey, it’s an arcade game, most of them are short. They’re also fun to play through, and you’ll do everything from racing in an airport to chasing King Kong up a skyscraper. The powerups are pretty cool, and they give you abilities like turbo, ramming through cars, and using supersonic horns that destroys everything. The problem is, there aren’t that many powerups, so you’ll be reusing a lot of the same ones over and over again. Not only that, but they don’t last long either, meaning you may feel cheated by how little you get to actually use them. In addition, the difficulty can be described as polarizing. Gamers looking for a challenge might be satisfied, but this game has terrible cheating AI. You have to be pretty damn good just to get past the other racer, as he apparently loves being in first more than anything else. Seriously, simply passing him is an ordeal. One big positive, however, is the non-linearity of the tracks, as all of them include numerous secret passages and alternate routes. It’s nothing new, but it’s executed well here. Oh, and the game is fast and hectic, so if you like your racers that way, you’d probably like this game.
All in all, this is a good game that I feel you should at least give a chance. It’s not perfect; the audio-visual area of the game is severely lacking, the AI cheats like crazy, and there’s not a whole lot of content on this disk. But look past the flaws, and you’ll find a well designed taxi racing game that actually goes in a different direction than Crazy Taxi. If you’re just looking for a way to waste a lazy Sunday afternoon playing a GameCube racing game, and you’re tired of playing the likes of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, F-Zero GX, and Kirby’s Air ride for the 1,793rd time, this is a game I would recommend.