Review by ACowWithaDS

Reviewed: 10/14/09

"Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

-George Carlin

Cartoon Network Speedway Review

We all know what Mario Kart is. Picture that, with some actual decent classic Cartoon Network characters and you get this game. Cartoon Network Speedway is considered by many a complete Mario Kart ripoff, which may be true, but does that make it bad? Mario Kart is great, so shouldn’t this be?

No. No it isn’t. This is mediocrity at its best. The game has great music while driving. This game has a great choice of characters. It even has decent controls, but it is indeed still bad. The powerups found throughout the track are insultingly simple and useless. There is a small selection of them, and they are scarce on the course. You may only get one powerup per lap, which isn’t a lot when you about it. Most of them just drop stuff on the course, and others hit your opponents. Seems helpful, but none of this really slows down the AI.

This leads me to another point. The AI are troopers and failures all at the same time. Seems strange, yes, but for lack of better words this is how it will be described. You can be having perfect laps, not getting hit, taking every shortcut possible, but the AI will always find a way to be on your tail FOR THE WHOLE RACE. Yet, say you are trying to complete some of the point challenges. The most effective way to collect points is by driving though stars (I’ll get to it in a minute) .So say you drive by a star, but didn’t mean to. You can actually turn around, go back to the star, drive through it and pick it up, turn back around, and catch back up to the AI just like they would do to you. I can see keeping the race close, but c’mon!

Okay, above I mentioned a point system. Basically scoring points is a pretty big part of the game. You need points to unlock quite a few unlockables aswell as doing the Challenges portion of the game. While not hard to do, they are just dumb. They take away from the whole concept of a kart racing game. Without collecting every star in the race, there is no way you can complete the later challenges resulting in you not being able to unlock everything. It’s simple to collect the stars, but if you miss them and want to actually complete the challenge, you will have to turn around and get them and that is not the point of a kart game. You should be racing in a kart game, not scrambling for stars on the course.

I’m not done with the negatives yet; I still have two more major points left. The first is the save system. It’s horrific. I mean a save system for a racing game? A GBA game at that. Many other games at this time have a good save system, why could this not? Unacceptable.

My final negative point is that the character attributes are useless. They have almost no effects on the races, so why have them? Each character performs similarly even though their attributes differ. It’s just like having different character models and that’s it. Not entirely bad, but really takes away from the replay value of the game.

Enough of my put downs. On to what makes this game playable. Despite what you might think after reading the first six paragraphs, this game is actually playable, and has some great aspects to it. Enough to make it a GOTY awesome game? No. A sleeper hit? No. A solid pickup if you can find it cheap? Maybe.

Cartoon Network Speedway does have a lot going for it. To start, it has a lot of what I feel pretty important to a successful video game ; unlockables. This will usually add tons of replay value to a game. While it does add some replay value to Cartoon Network Speedway, it does not add much. The collectables are simple and easy. This adds more to the game though, so it’s a start.

The tracks also add some variety. While there is not much of a selection of tracks, and most need to be unlocked, what this game does provide for tracks are pretty decent. Most have a different feel, but some have the same area/surroundings to drive through. The main backgrounds that I recall are a city background, a desert background, and a spooky/haunted background. There you go. Three memorable backgrounds. Not much, but atleast the tracks are different.

Th graphics are actually all right for it’s time. You can see powerups and your opponents from a distance, and distinguish them. You can also see turns and shortcuts pretty easily. The only real problem with the graphics is I noticed sometimes some objects/parts of the track may disappear of in the distance until you get closer. This can be frustrating if you are trying to make your move into first on the last lap.

Now we are down to the final three major elements of the game, and they are what make Cartoon Network Speedway game the Cartoon Network Speedway we know/want to play. They are, as follows: Controls, Characters, and Sound.

Cartoon Network Speedway controls fantastic. It is easy to make the turns. It is easy to use powerups. My only complaint about controls is you have to be perfect when collecting stars and drive right through the middle of the stars to gain points, but if you are in it for the race alone, then controls are not a problem. Excellent controls, actually.

I’ve praised the characters to some extent above, and I also talked about the character attributes. However, despite the what seem like useless character attributes, the character selection is awesome. You can pick from just about all of the good classic Cartoon Network characters. Even though the game makes it feel like they are all one character with different skins/costumes, it is still fun to pick your favorite cartoon oldie.

Now, the final brilliant aspect of Cartoon Network Speedway: the sound. Each track has it’s own sound, and they are pretty cool. In fact, they are really cool. Take the haunted/spooky track for example. While driving through you can hear chainsaws, screams, or anything else you may think of when you think of a horror movie. It really is great. Menu music isn’t the greatest, but that is why you have a sound wheel to lower the volume when you want as every track may not have sounds and music you like.

Cartoon network Speedway is not a great game at all. It’s very mediocre. To the more experienced or older gamers, it might be even considered bad, repetitive, and short. But if you have a younger brother/sister, daughter or son, they could get some real enjoyment out of this. Just when they get bored of the tracks they have, you may have to go unlock some for them as they aren’t hard, but may be complicated with the collecting stars for a younger person. Easily a good buy for a young person, but not as much of one for the older and experienced gamers.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Cartoon Network Speedway (US, 11/09/03)

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