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Cruis'n Velocity Package Art
†GENRE
††Graphic State Games
†DEVELOPER
††Midway
†PUBLISHER
††1-4
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††no
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Cruis'n Velocity

Sure, you can have your new Zelda, your 128 Marios, or your next Perfect Dark, but as long as the concept of racing cars in video games is appealing, there will be the Cruis'n series. Way back when, Cruis'n USA was released, and I remember that game being quite the racer. My friends and I used to race each other in Cruis'n whenever we got sick of Mario Kart, or just wanted to go through Route 101-- jumps and all.

Then Cruis'n World came out, and I didnít like its offering as well as its predecessor, which was a recurring case with Midwayís next sequel, Cruis'n Exotica. Yet here we have a polygonal racer on your and my favorite handheld with a new second word: Velocity. Pleasantly, this sequel's not too bad.

visuals

This is possibly the most impressive part of the game, with the gameplay a reasonably close second. The levels actually surprised me a bit due to some of the little details that were put in but not really unnecessary. For example, one of the levels (Ireland, specifically), has a nice ramp drop off. Another course located in Alaska has you slowly ascend a staircase, then fall out of a hole in a wall to a track with water on both sides. I didnít expect anything other than a flat track when I played CV, but here we are.

The textures left a little to be desired, though. They ranged from reasonable to downright pixelated. I suppose some slack shall be cut, though, considering this is one of the first few games to explore the GBAís third dimension capabilities.

The 11 different cars are pretty nice looking too, ranging from a taxi to a rocket-propelled speedster. Each has a fully modeled body, and though you donít see it much, that includes the front and bottom. Nice. Considering the GBA is pushing quite bit of graphics during a race, having seven other cars on the track at the same time (sprites as they may be) is visually pretty impressive.

The framerate is constant, but a far cry from smooth. The cars jerk around as they move from one part of the screen to the other. The same is true with your surroundings. My guess is this is running about 10 frames a second or so. Itís not impossible to play, just adds a bit more-- shall we say-- difficulty?

audio

When you turn on the game, youíre greeted with an engine noise that sounds a little like rain, and a tune that lasts surprisingly long for an intro theme. That same music will accompany you throughout menus, until you get into a race.

Now let's see: what was the thing about this gameís audio? Oh, thatís right. In-game, there is absolutely zero music. Sure, they have a crunching metal sound for when you hit anything-- and I mean anything-- causing said sound to seem rather monotonous and annoying. Yet the engine sounds good, whether it switching gears or using a turbo.

The voices are pretty well done too. When you go to Ireland, for example, the Cruis'n girl will say, "Ireland is so green!" Gotta love those valley girls, calling an all brown course green. Sheíll also say, "Las Vegas is so exciting!" or, "Far out! Mars!" Other than that, thereís a separate song for between races (which is surprisingly long), a little jingle for when you complete a lap, and that sums up any noteworthy audio in the game.

gameplay

No battery save? Boo! Thatís one of three quarrels I have with this gameplay. The other two are collision detection with other cars, and your own ability to turn, or lack thereof.

You probably already understand what the lack of a battery save means: password system. The passwords are eight characters long, which isnít so bad, but I would still prefer to save my file on my cartridge than enter a password every time I wanted to play.

The collision detection, even the punishment for running into something, leaves something to be desired. When the car hits anything, you are set back a short distance, and ricocheted in another direction with one frame. This slows you down tremendously-- in most cases costing you your position. Yet when you hit another car, it doesnít matter if your car is twice the mass, or half, you still lose the lionís share of your speed. When the other car takes up nearly half the width of the track, this is a little hard to avoid.

Finally, thereís your inability to turn, causing this collision detection. Thatís pretty much it. You have a tough time turning corners.

I list out these three things, though, because theyíre the only problems with the game. The gameplay is pretty solid otherwise; you get the hang of it right away.

multiplayer

Iíve not found anyone close enough with a copy of this game to play me, but the book says you can race up to three other friends, and Iíve heard it runs flawlessly. If only I could try...

overall

If youíve been aching for a Cruis'n game, then I donít think this gameís score should deter you all that much-- although I do suggest renting first. Hey, you can save your hard work through your password.

Of all the racing games out there, my favorite is still F-Zero and Mario Kart, but if you want something a little more realistic, but still a bit off the wall, go for this.

final score Racing/10


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