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Speed Racer: The Videogame Review

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Developer: Sidhe Interactive Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: May 6, 2008 Also On: None

Warner Bros. recently brought back the 1960s era cartoon series Speed Racer (you can watch full episodes of the old show at TV.com) to the big screen. The live-action movie used fancy new special effects with the help of the Wachowski brothers of The Matrix fame. The film debuted recently to moderate box office success and the newly formed Warner Bros. Interactive released a video game to complement the film on Nintendo DS and Wii.

The Wii is the sole recipient of a console version of Speed Racer. This is particularly noteworthy, given that next-gen F-Zero has neither been announced or whispered by Nintendo. I suppose the meager retail reception of F-Zero GX has something to do with that, even if it got rave reviews (including a 9.8 from Game Freaks 365). Regardless of this fact, Speed Racer was likely targeted on the Wii for the obvious reason that it is both the market leader and the most likely to be owned by a younger age of gamers.

As it is, Speed Racer plays almost identically to F-Zero GX. This is reflected in everything from control of the race vehicle (although GX obviously did not have motion sensing), look of the courses, flamboyant characters, long tracks, speed, having rivals and so on. Essentially, Speed Racer is F-Zero without the name on the box or the same level of quality. That said, this is about all fans of F-Zero have to look forward to on Wii for some time. Either take it or leave it.

You control your racing craft using the Wii Remote and without the nunchuk accessory. Just like Nintendo’s own Excite Truck, the folks at Sidhe made use of the Wii Remote’s ability to control sideways as if it were a steering wheel. Of course the Wii Wheel is being encouraged for use with this title, but that peripheral has proven to be about as useful as all of the third party hardware junk that is being released on Wii for profiteering. Steering is controlled moving the controller back and forth, while accelerate is done with 2 and boost with B. Health can be acquired by pressing A, which uses up energy that would go towards boost.

Two things hold Speed Racer back from its full potential: its lack of tracks and erratic A.I. The first problem is the lack of any variety whatsoever in tracks. You will be replaying the same old tracks over and over again, so get used to it. From a sheerly gameplay perspective, this would seemingly give a human player an edge, as they would begin to master the same few courses. Unfortunately, the computer is set up in a way that makes getting any huge lead impossible. Even if you hit several boost pads in a row, and then boost with the power that you accumulate through racing, the computer will often catch up. To give you a sense of just how annoying this can be, imagine that you are in first place and drop to thirteenth after you miss a boost, get bumped by an opponent and see everyone pass you.

If you can get over the frustrations of unfair A.I. and tracks that you will play a million times, Speed Racer is a decent game to play. Kids (who this game was undoubtedly targeted at) will probably find the A.I. to be even more frustrating than advanced players. It definitely is not F-Zero, but there really is only one F-Zero (sorry WipeOut). On the upside, if you have yet to see the movie, you get a free movie ticket with the purchase of this game. While that is not reason enough for most people, it may be enough reason for the cult following of the original cartoon.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 6.7
Written by Kyle Review Guide