Review by Writer
Reviewed: 06/26/01 | Updated: 06/26/01
Its no secret that the N64 seriously lacks great third party games. Superman 64 was a disaster and Roadsters, well...ick. Most gamer's get their kicks on their N64's by playing first party games like Super Mario 64 or Mario Kart 64. But all is not lost on the N64 third party front. Beetle Adventure Racing is not only one of the best third party games for the system, its quite possibly the best third party game for the system, and one of coolest games to ever grace Nintendo's black console.
The premise in BAR is pretty simple. In Championship mode, competing against seven CPU controlled cars, you race across 6 different tracks ranging from country roads, deserts, cityscapes, and more. All of the tracks are loaded with shortcuts and alternate routes and here lies one of BAR's greatest strengths; finding all of the short cuts. Even Alternate paths have alternate paths. Perfectionists will salivate all over BAR's unique gameplay. If you see a boarded-up cave, you'd be wise to smash through it. If you see a road that leads to a different path, take it. Finding short cuts can not only give you a lead on the competition, but you can also find hidden crates which are valuable since they help unlock secrets and BAR has a ton of them. There are two types of crates-flower and bonus. Flower crates sever as your means to unlocking one of the many cheats that BAR has to offer. Bonus crates are your means to unlock more stages for the Beetle Battle mode (more on that later). Finding the secrets in BAR is great fun and adds a lot of replay value to an already great game.
BAR has three difficulty settings; Novice, Advance, and Professional, each one more difficult than the last. Novice consists of three races, Advance four races, and Professional all six races. You'll be required to come in a certain place or you won't advance to the next race.
The racing in BAR is great fun. All of the six tracks are huge and can take about 2 two three minutes per lap to complete. While some may think that's a long time for each race, this is actually a good thing since the tracks are a marvelous work of brilliance. Whoever designed these tracks should be awarded. BAR has some of the best track designs ever seen any in racing game. The tracks are littered with waterfalls, towns, houses, bridges, caves, a UFO? Yes, there's one of those too. BARs awesome visuals help show off the wonderful tracks. There's some fog, but its really used for effect rather than incapabilities of the N64. BAR is also one of the few games on the system to use the controller pak to save game data, so make sure you have one.
The cars in BAR are all Beetles obviously, but this doesn't hurt the game in anyway. The beetles are all capable of catching some serious air thanks to raps and and nitro crates on the tracks. Unlike most racers that sport licensed rides, BAR isn't afraid to abuse the cars. All of the cars can flip over, roll over and explode if you don't drive carefully. All the cars even have horns that you can honk and hold out until you get tired of hearing it. Each time you complete a circuit, you unlock three new cars. There are a total off 11 beetles to drive, the coolest one being the police car that lets you sound a siren that makes the CPU cars pull over. Unlike most racing games you can actually cause the CPU cars to mess up by running into them or bumping them from the side.
Aside from the very cool Championship mode, BAR features two player racing (which should have been made four), Time Trial, and the very cool Beetle Battle. Beetle Battle allows from two to four player action that's sure to put a smile on some of your faces. The main goal here is to collect one of each colored lady bug (six total) and find the exit. You can obtain the lady bugs by finding them in the levels or by destroying another player by ramming into or using the many weapons on the playing fields. The weapons range from mines, poison, rockets, invincibility, and more. The items turn the game into a bit of a deathmatch on wheels game, 'a la Twisted Metal. If you unlock the right cheats, you can totally forget collecting the beetles and turn the game into a straight up deathmatch.
On the audio side, the game features some catchy tunes that just have to be heard. The announcer in Beetle Battle is hilarious with lines like ''You bad!'' and ''Funkadelic!''
When its all said and done BAR is a very solid ride on the N64, its got cool cars, great tracks and a tone of secrets.
You can spend a lot of time playing BAR and even after you've finished the game and unlocked all the cars, you'll still want to keep playing to find every single short cut. Highly recommended.
FINAL SCORE: 9
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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