Review by BlazeHedgehog
Reviewed: 05/05/03 | Updated: 05/05/03
Ah, the Volkswagen Beetle. An interesting little car from the 1970's. Sturdy little machines that handled well and were economically sound -- so much so that they were revived in 2000. I've always had something of an affinity for the little ''Bugs'', and when I saw previews for this game in Nintendo Power I have to admit I was a little stoked -- sure, any game can have fast, cool, slick liscenced cars... but this was different. Very different.
Graphics - 8.5/10
For the N64, these are some pretty nice graphics. Granted, you still have to deal with the N64-staple blurry textures, but visually it's a good game. You get environment mapping on all the cars, dust effects, skidmarks, particle effects, and all the cars have some very smooth, very nice models on'em -- and all the while the game maintains a smooth framerate. Definitely a thumbs up.
Sound - 7/10
In this game, Ambient Music is just that, Ambient Music -- when it's there, it fades into the background, and when it's not there you don't even notice it's gone. Sound effects are clear and precise - squealing tires, the rev of the Bug's engine, the chirping of birds as you take that next turn, and of course the cheesy announcer's voice. It fits perfectly with the theme of this game.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
As if the concept of racing only VW Bugs didn't set this game apart from the pack enough, this game drives home a certain sense of style that most games miss. Beetle Adventure Racing has a certain sense of personality that no other racing game has ever attempted before -- most racing games give you the same old same old ''We're racing fast cars and we're cool'' feeling as it shows drivers powerslide around a track at 170mph. Beetle Adventure Racing purposely doesn't take itself seriously -- from the corny over the top announcer to the locals and things that happen in them, this game feels like a big cool amusement park ride.
Tracks themselves are painfully well-crafted, with TONS of hidden pathways, shortcuts and secrets littered about -- and each track is long; very long. And the game doesn't try for realism at all; you can have your Gran Turismo and your Need for Speed -- Beetle Adventure Racing has me driving through volcanos and across beaches and over rickety bridges and through mineshafts. What other racing game lets you drive through an active volcano -- leaping over glowing lava pits, only to have you drive through a dense jungle full of dinosaurs, avoiding the jaws of a massive T-Rex -- both in the same track?
Locals are very different from one another; there's snowy mountaintops, island resorts, roaming countrysides and quite abit inbetween; and as mentioned, each track is filled out with lots of variety and secrets that will keep you coming back time after time.
If you're looking for speed this may not be the game for you -- when you first start out, you are given a bog-standard Bug to race about with, and to tell the truth it's handling, acceleration and top-speed aren't anything to write home about -- but as you progress and win championships, better, faster and sturdier cars become unlocked and things really begin to heat up.
I only wish there was more to it; the tracks are hilarious fun, but you don't get that many modes to choose from. You get the standard ''Quick Race'', ''Championship'', and multiplayer modes and that's about it. Granted, they had to fit all of this on an N64 cartridge, and by the size of the tracks they filled up space fast; but some other modes like perhaps a demolition derby or something of the sort would've spiced things up abit.
Either way, gameplay is solid.
Replay - 7.8/10
Long courses and being able to play other racers on these fantastically designed tracks are Definitely a plus; but the game is kind of easy and you can beat most of the singleplayer stuff in a day or two days, and there isn't much after that.
Overall - 9/10
One of the best racers on the N64, no contest.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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