Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speed Racer: The Video Game - A Nintendo DS Review

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I must say that with WFC Connectivity, Speed Racer: The Video Game would have been up there contending with Mario Kart DS for the best racing game title on the Nintendo DS.

Admittedly, that thought didn't cross my mind before I started reviewing the game. Likewise for many movie tie-ins and in-fact many Nintendo DS games these days, I approached this title with trepidation thinking that hey, at most its gonna be something a little less crappier than M&M's Kart Racing.

Yup, the market is full of shovelware these days that a little pessimistic thinking is acceptable. Are we looking at another video games crunch ala the 80's? That's enough material for another article.

Back to the game. Boy, was I glad to be proven wrong. The game started off with a nice FMV, with the backstory being set after the events of the movie. Without further ado, I jumped into an arcade mode race and the graphics were the first thing that caught my attention.

Someone better create a digital video output expansion set for the DS so that I can view this on my widescreen..this is really good!

It was a really trippy experience going through the first race and the excellent graphics were accompanied with excellent controls and gameplay. Some portions of the track are like half pipes, and if you were to drive off the sides, a tap of a button will bring the car right on to the track. This user friendly approach is extended to situations where you might find yourself driving backwards, and a touch of a button will right the car.

All these stunts, which also include flipping the car during jumps, drifting through corners and executing Car-Fu, which is a mini game that can be executed during overtaking, will help you fill your boost meter which can be expended to provide a timely boost of speed.

However, fill the boost meter to the brim and you'll have access to the Zone. It's abit hard to describe the "Zone", it's like a mega boost of sorts and pretty much worth the effort to fill the boost meter.

More importantly, stunts also win fans. Fans are to Speed Racer as currency is to RPGs. the more fans you win over in a race, the more cars, drivers and game modes you can unlock!

Aside from the Arcade Mode, there is also an expansive WRL league mode, which is divided by difficulty level. Each level has its own sets of cups and special events and is the place to be to gain fans to unlock the goodies mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The Options menu provides quite a bit of flexibility. You can choose between three different control schemes, adjust race variables such as number of opponents and laps, and whether to use the metric system or the imperial system for your speedometer (lol..jargon? that's just MPH or KPH).

Speed Racer is like a breath of fresh air among the other racing games I've seen lately on the Nintendo DS and I highly recommend it. Speed Racer: The Video Game is available at Play-Asia with free international shipping to most countries. Click here for purchase details.

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