Speed Racer: The Videogame Wii
Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developed by: Sidhe Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
I have to admit to not being much of a moviegoer and as such I haven’t seen the Speed Racer movie that Speed Racer: The Videogame is based upon, so you might find this review lacking in references to the movie. Not that it’s much of a problem however as the game doesn’t rely on any knowledge of the movie. We’ve often commented on how games based on movies are seldom worthwhile and most are usually a waste of time. Thankfully Speed Racer: The Videogame isn’t another one of those failed efforts and despite not being the best racer you’ll ever come across on the Wii, it’s a solid effort that will appeal to fans of the genre and (most likely) the movie.
Speed Racer is a futuristic racer in the same vein as the F-Zero series. The single-player options are Championship, Single Race and Time Trial. The Championship mode offers a variety of championships spread over three classes. Each championship consists of at least two races and points are earned for finishing in the top six, recording the fastest lap and for scoring a specific amount of Car-Fu points (more on that in a moment). The multiplayer options are very limited with only support for two-player split-screen races. There is also a collection of tutorials that explains both the basic and advanced game concepts.
Speed Racer is essentially a mix of tried and tested and original concepts for a futuristic racing game. You’ll use the Wii remote to steer with and the game supports the Wii Wheel and it has to be said that the controls work well. The cars have boost power (avoid hitting the side of the circuit or perform Car-Fu moves to fill up one unit of the boost gauge). If three units of boost are acquired you can enter The Zone which gives you a super boost of speed for a short duration. You’ll also find Speed Up squares on the circuit that will give you a temporary speed boost if you drive over them.
We’ve already mentioned Car-Fu several times but what is it? Essentially Car-Fu is an assortment of moves that you can perform to attack your rivals. Such moves include the Tail Toss, Boost Bash and Hyper Spin. You’ll make gestures with the Wii remote to perform these moves and it really adds an edge to the racing experience. For each Car-Fu move you’ll perform you’ll gain points and if you amass a specific amount of points, you’ll acquire bonus points which can help out in your attempt to win a championship. You don’t have to take on every driver however. Prior to the start of a race you’ll be given the opportunity to strike up alliances. Those drivers you forge an alliance with will not perform Car-Fu moves against you and you are penalised for performing moves against them. Of course the character you are racing as will also have rivals who will go out of their way to stop you from winning. The alliances, rivalries and Car-Fu moves certainly add an interesting twist to the futuristic racing formula.
Whilst Speed Racer is essentially a fair futuristic racer there are some aspects of the game that are disappointing. As we’ve already mentioned, the multiplayer options are very limited with no support for online races. Probably the biggest disappointment is the lack of circuits on offer. Whilst there are 20 different characters you can race as, there are just five circuits to race on and this means you’ll be racing on the same few over and over again which really makes the game feel much more repetitive than it should be. Rubber band AI has also been included which negates or at best diminishes the effect of the boosts and speed-up squares.
Graphically, Speed Racer is fairly respectable and despite the game being similar in nature to the F-Zero series, it has a unique look. The game moves along at a decent pace and the frame rate is certainly good but the overall sensation of speed isn’t quite as impressive as what you would find in an F-Zero game. The cars are supposed to be travelling at speeds over 400MPH but in truth it feels much less.
Speed Racer won’t cause deaf gamers any problems. The subtitles in the game are enabled by default and you’ll see a portrait of the speaker alongside the subtitles. The game’s tutorials are all subtitled so you’ll have no problems picking up the game’s concepts. All of the dialogue between the characters during a race is subtitled and displayed at the top of the screen. Allies and rivals are clearly indicated during a race. When selecting a character to race as the character will say a few words and this isn’t subtitled but it’s hardly a problem and certainly of no importance. There aren’t any cutscenes or dialogue between the races so in essence there are no problems at all for deaf gamers.
Those who like their futuristic racing games should definitely give Speed Racer: The Videogame a look. The game isn’t your typical game based on the movie effort and is actually a decent futuristic racing title that’s quite enjoyable with a few unique twists that prevent it from simply being an F-Zero clone. It could have been better however and the lack of circuits and no online mode does hurt the experience somewhat. If you enjoy futuristic racing titles, and particularly if you’re a fan of the Speed Racer franchise, you’ll enjoy what Speed Racer: The Videogame has to offer.