Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wacky Races | PlayStation 2 Tuesdays #11

I have long been a fan of the kart racing genre, ever since the very first game in the Mario Kart series was released on the SNES and I spent many hours playing against friends and my brother in both the Grand Prix and battle modes. There have been many games since then that have all attempted their own variations on the formula, and the Mario Kart series has remained far ahead of the competition in my opinion. A couple of games have come close to beating it over the years - namely Crash Team Racing and Diddy Kong Racing, and then there are dozens of mid tier kart racers that are decent enough but not strong enough to be included in the A list.

Wacky Races starring Dastardly and Muttley is one such game, which was originally released for the Dreamcast before being ported over to the PS2. I used to love the old cartoon that the game is based on, and the developers have done a great job of converting the 2D cartoon into a cel shaded 3D world. All of the old favourite characters such as the Ant Hill Mob, Penelope Pitstop, the Slag Brothers and more are all present and correct, though some like Professor Pat Pending and Dick Dastardly himself have to be unlocked by progressing through the Adventure mode.

Speaking of which, the adventure mode is basically a copy of the one found in Diddy Kong Racing, with individual races awarding you a star for winning them, and more advanced racers locked away until you earn a certain number of stars. After a while boss challenges will also open up - beating the first one in a world will unlock another attack for your character to choose from, and then beating the second will open up that character. After all the individual races is an environment are dealt with, you can then choose the Wacky Cup Challenge - which is a five race tournament. Beating that then unlocks the Golden Muttley Challenge, where you have to win all the individual races and must collect the hidden golden muttleys around each track while you do so. Beating those then allows you to take part in the Battle Arena Challenge, which is similar to the battle mode found in the Mario Kart games - drive around for a fixed amount of time, hit your opponents with weapons, earn points, win. Aside from all those modes there are also time trials for you to beat.

Brrr, this looks rather chilly!
Unlike other games in the genre, there isn't a fixed range of items for all characters to use - instead each character has their own unique items. You start with three unlocked, and earn more by progressing through adventure mode. The items themselves fit into the usual types: ones that you can shoot your opponents with, speed boosts, shields and the like. As for the different tracks you'll be tearing around, there are four different environments in the game: a wild west style area, a snowy mountain, a big city and a forest. Each of these have five tracks within, which to a pretty good job of distinguishing themselves from each other. A few of the tracks can be quite annoying to beat, especially when you're still getting used to the layout.

I'm not sure whether the guy narrating the game is the same one who used to voice the Wacky Races cartoon many years ago, but it sounds remarkably close. In fact, the game has nailed the style of the cartoon all around, and is a pretty fun game all around. It even features a multiplayer mode that supports four players, though I can't really comment on how good this is as I have not had the chance to try it, sadly. In terms of cost, Wacky Races will likely set you back less than £5. At that price it's worth a look, though it's not the best kart racer money can buy by any means!

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