Beetle Adventure Racing!

–°ould this be the best racing game on any console ever?

Wheels spinning, engine roaring, you burn down the narrow trail at more than a hundred miles an hour, dirt kicking out from under your tyres. Ahead of you a competitor weaves to the side to block your passage but you feint right, then suddenly swerve left and hammer the gas pedal to the floor, bringing you alongside your speeding companion just as you reach the suspension bridge.

You're the best, you're the fastest, you're... about to crash! Ahead of you the bridge is out, and your opponent is your only escape route. Desperately you spin the wheel, but it's too late. As the other driver races past the pile of rubble which marks the beginning of a huge chunk of missing bridge your car sails into space, dropping hundreds of feet per second. This is it, you're doomed, you're going to crash and then have to wait for vital seconds while your car is put back on the track...

At least, you would, but this is no ordinary N64 race game, this is Beetle Adventure Racing! Before you can say Tmtooyoungtoodieaaaaaaah' your shiny VW racer has landed in cave and you're off along yet another hidden route!

Herbie Hides Again!

Before we go any further, let's get out of the way the obvious comment that all the Nintendo-hating anal-retentive PSX racing game obsessive are bound to come up with. Specifically, it's not Gran Turismo.

No, Beetle Adventure Racing isn't Gran Turismo. There aren't about five hundred cars in it to begin with, and you can't tinker with everything from the suspension settings to the size of the blade on the windscreen wipers. And you don't have to pass tests in order to drive. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants their driving games to be so complicated. And at the end of the day, let's face it, the tracks in Gran Turismo weren't exactly very exciting, were they?

Beetle Adventure Racing bears a startling resemblance to the Need For Speed series of games on the PlayStation, most notably Need For Speed 3. When you first switch on the game you are given a choice of only two one-player tracks and three battle arenas (which we'll come to in a moment).

Watch Out, Beetle's About!

Now two tracks doesn't seem much, does it? But rest assured, even if you don't try the championship mode (which is how you unlock further tracks) it is not exaggerating to say that just these two courses are enough to keep you coming back to the game for weeks on end!

For every circuit in Beetle Adventure Racing is - to put it bluntly - bloody huge. Forget Top Gear Rally with its one or two brief in-game shortcuts, the tracks in Beetle Adventure Racing contain a positive plethora of multiple routes on every course. On most of the tracks it's entirely possible to take part in a three lap race and never go the same way twice! These circuits are that big.

As well as being big, another thing the tracks in the game have in their favour is the detailed scenery, much of which is destroyable. Every track is littered from start to finish with all the traditional elements that crop up in classic film car chases. Crates and barrels of all shapes and sizes inhabit every bend in addition to the more common road signs, all of which can be knocked down. Plate glass windows are just asking to be crashed through, as are barn doors, seemingly solid icy rock faces, garage doors, shop fronts, cinema screens and even the odd stained-glass window.

If the scenery can't be destroyed, it's probably because it moves. Dinosaurs, trains, helicopters, balloons, pirate galleons and falling rock pillars are just a few of the interesting things you'll encounter on your travels. They all look solid and - more impressively - they move. No attractive-but-static two-dimensional scenery in this game, oh no!

Go Bananas!

As if all this isn't enough to make the game thoroughly playable, special crates add another element to the gameplay. There are two kinds; the first is a Nitro crate and - fairly obviously -breaking it open grants you a superspeed nitro boost, complete with burning tyres (a la Back To The Future). These crates only appear once (when you collect them, that's it) and some routes can't be travelled without them, like the jump over water which requires that extra burst of speed for you to reach the shore. This makes your choice of route important as you can't always just take the same path every time.

The other kind of crate is the bonus crate. These are positioned all over the track, often in obscure places, and have a value from two to ten. In all, there are a hundred bonus points on each level and collecting all of them on any stage unlocks a bonus track in the battle mode - which we'll come to in a second. Honestly, we'll get to it eventually! The catch is that you can only collect the points in championship mode and you can't afford to fall too far behind - get a minute or more behind the last car and you get disqualified. So searching for points becomes a two-stage problem. First of all you've got to find them, and second of all you need to make sure you keep up with the other racers. It's far from easy!

Beetle Mania!

In addition to a one and two-player race mode, including time trial and a one-on-one Vs CPU duel option, Beetle Adventure Racing also offers a two, three or four player battle mode.

Racing fans will no doubt be aware that battle modes in car games tend to be fairly average I affairs, particularly on the N64, and often it seems that this option has been added in seemingly as an afterthought in order to let the marketing people stick a four-player logo on the box. Notable battle modes in recent N64 racing games include... well, the only one that springs immediately to mind is the tank battle in XG2, but as the one-player mode was so appalling it hardly rates consideration. In Beetle Adventure Racing however, an awful lot of thought has obviously gone into the battle games and the result is one of the most addictive multiplayer modes since Goldeneye.

The object of the battle arenas is a simple one. Each player must collect six coloured bugs from around the level and then make their way to the exit. To make things interesting, there are various weapons and power-ups available. Missiles, mines and a shield allow you to batter other players, and a device called a stealer allows you to pinch bugs they have already collected if you can hit them with it. There are also three different mystery weapons which have some pretty bizarre effects on your opponents' viewing windows.

A Different Variety Of Beetle...

You encounter a different variety of beetle in the battle game - the kind with lots of legs. These bright fellows crop up all round each stage and you need to be the first to collect the six different colours and reach the exit in order to win. Sounds easy... but it ain't!

Watch Out For That Chopper, Herbie!

Stage one contains the obligatory balloons, which are nonetheless bright and colourful. More impressive however are the helicopters which pop up on stage two at the beginning, then fly off and hover at the first bridge.

They make jumping from the bridge all the more fun - this pilot'll probably need a change of underpants!

Herpes The love Bug

What makes the multiplayer so much fun is the simplicity of the gameplay -not too many weapons and a fairly straightforward objective - and some extremely well-designed battle arenas. Usually in this type of game you get some areas that are fun and others that just don't play very well, but in this each arena offers different challenges and a different style of play. To begin with, only three battle stages are open because as mentioned previously to unlock the others (there are nine in all) you need to collect the bonus points in the one-player game.

Graphically, Beetle Adventure Racing is extremely impressive. The detail on each of the tracks is superb, and - apart from one or two very rare exceptions where things just get too much and things slow down ever so slightly - the whole game runs very smoothly and very fast throughout, even in four-player. The range of different terrains is incredible, with a range of different environments being present on every track. And each track is totally different from the others!

The variety of different routes on each stage is just astounding, and some of them are so well hidden that you'll probably take ages to find them all.

It's Better Than Coif!

One refreshing part of the game is the way that the hidden routes have been designed to keep the action going. Repeatedly your car will plunge into a chasm, having not quite managed to jump a broken bridge, or tumble down the side of a mountain after not-quite making the corner and you expect the car to be destroyed and then placed back on the track. Instead you more often than not drop into a previously unseen area and start following a totally separate route through unfamiliar terrain, thus keeping the pace going.

This, coupled with the fact that on many tracks you can quite literally roam the landscape to your heart's content -on the desert track you don't need to follow the road at all and can instead just wander off over the dunes - makes Beetle Adventure Racing a joy to play. Random wandering is even actively encouraged, because when you do it you often find yet more hidden paths which may or may not help you to win the race.

Quite simply, Beetle Adventure Racing is the most fun, most exciting and most satisfying racing game on the N64 to date. If you want serious, realistic racing then F-1 World Grand Prix might be more to your taste but if you want to experience wild driving thrills across, over and even under some breathtaking and detailed landscapes then Beetle Adventure Racing is the one to buy!

Beetle Adventure Racing came out of nowhere and has turned out to be one of the best games for ages! It looks great, plays superbly, and the massive tracks just keep on coming up with new surprises. Just not sure about the, er, 'widescreen' mode... Andy McDermott

Alternative Viewpoints

Beetle Adventure Racing offers you a choice of three different racing views. You can choose to watch the action from close behind the car, far-behind-and-slightly-above the car, and also from in-car, the latter of which is more accurately a view from the bonnet as you don't actually see the car interior. One neat touch is that as you change view the engine noise changes in volume, ie: when using the far view it's fairly quiet while the in-car view gives you loud engine noise. Cool!

2nd rating opinion

Beetle Adventure Racing came out of nowhere and has turned out to be one of the best games for ages! It looks great, plays superbly, and the massive tracks just keep on coming up with new surprises. Just not sure about the, er, 'widescreen' mode...

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Beetle Adventure Racing! Downloads

Nintendo 64 Beetle Adventure Racing! download

Wheels spinning, engine roaring, you burn down the narrow trail at more than a hundred miles an hour, dirt kicking out from under your tyres. Ahead of you a competitor weaves to the side to block your passage but you feint right, then suddenly swerve left and hammer the gas pedal to the floor, bringing you alongside your speeding companion just as you reach the suspension bridge.

You're the best, you're the fastest, you're... about to crash! Ahead of you the bridge is out, and your opponent is your only escape route. Desperately you spin the wheel, but it's too late. As the other driver races past the pile of rubble which marks the beginning of a huge chunk of missing bridge your car sails into space, dropping hundreds of feet per second. This is it, you're doomed, you're going to crash and then have to wait for vital seconds while your car is put back on the track...

At least, you would, but this is no ordinary N64 race game, this is Beetle Adventure Racing'. Before you can say Tmtooyoungtoodieaaaaaaah' your shiny VW racer has landed in a cave and you're off along yet another hidden route!

Herbie Rides Again!

Before we go any further, let's get out of the way the obvious comment that all the Nintendo-hating anal-retentive PSX racing game obsessives are bound to come up with. Specifically, it's not Gran Turismo.

No, Beetle Adventure Racing isn't Gran Turismo. There aren't about five hundred cars in it to begin with, and you can't tinker with everything from the suspension settings to the size of the blade on the windscreen wipers. And you don't have to pass tests in order to drive. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants their driving games to be so complicated. And at the end of the day, let's face it, the tracks in Gran Turismo weren't exactly very exciting, were they?

Beetle Adventure Racing bares a startling resemblance to the Need For Speed series of games on the PlayStation, most notably Need For Speed 3. When you first switch on the game you are given a choice of only two one-player tracks and three battle arenas (which we'll come to in a moment).

Watch Out, Beetle's About!

Now two tracks doesn't seem much, does it? But rest assured, even if you don't try the championship mode (which is how you unlock further tracks) it is not exaggerating to say that just these two courses are enough to keep you coming back to the game for weeks on end!

For every circuit in Beetle Adventure Racing is -- to put it bluntly -- bloody huge. Forget Top Gear Rally with its one or two brief in-game shortcuts, the tracks in Beetle Adventure Racing contain a positive plethora of multiple routes on every course. On most of the tracks it's entirely possible to take part in a three lap race and never go the same way twice! These circuits are that big.

As well as being big, another thing the tracks in the game have in their favour is the detailed scenery, much of which is destroyable. Every track is littered from start to finish with all the traditional elements that crop up in classic film car chases. Crates and barrels of all shapes and sizes inhabit every bend in addition to the more common road signs, all of which can be knocked down. Plate glass windows are just asking to be crashed through, as are barn doors, seemingly solid icy rock faces, garage doors, shop fronts, cinema screens and even the odd stained-glass window.

If the scenery can't be destroyed, it's probably because it moves. Dinosaurs, trains, helicopters, balloons, pirate galleons and falling rock pillars are just a few of the interesting things you'll encounter on your travels. They all look solid and - more impressively - they move. No attractive-but-static two-dimensional scenery in this game, oh no!

Go Bananas!

As if all this isn't enough to make the game thoroughly playable, special crates add another element to the gameplay. There are two kinds; the first is a Nitro crate and -- fairly obviously -- breaking it open grants you a super speed nitro boost, complete with burning tyres (a la Back To The Future). These crates only appear once (when you collect them, that's it) and some routes can't be travelled without them, like the jump over water which requires that extra burst of speed for you to reach the shore. This makes your choice of route important as you can't always just take the same path every time.

The other kind of crate is the bonus crate. These are positioned all over the track, often in obscure places, and have a value from two to ten. In all, there are a hundred bonus points on each level and collecting all of them on any stage unlocks a bonus track in the battle mode-which we'll come to in a second. Honestly, we'll get to it eventually! The catch is that you can only collect the points in championship mode and you can't afford to fall too far behind -- get a minute or more behind the last car and you get disqualified. So searching for points becomes a two-stage problem. First of all you've got to find them, and second of all you need to make sure you keep up with the other racers. It's far from easy!

Beetle Mania!

In addition to a one and two-player race mode, including time trial and a one-on-one Vs. CPU duel option, Beetle Adventure Racing also offers a two, three or four player battle mode.

Racing fans will no doubt be aware that battle modes in car games tend to be fairly average affairs, particularly on the N64, and often it seems that this option has been added in seemingly as an afterthought in order to let the marketing people stick a four-player logo on the box. Notable battle modes in recent N64 racing games include... well, the only one that springs immediately to mind is the tank battle in X62, but as the one-player mode was so appalling it hardly rates consideration. In Beetle Adventure Racing however, an awful lot of thought has obviously gone into the battle games and the result is one of the most addictive multiplayer modes since Goldeneye.

The object of the battle arenas is a simple one. Each player must collect six coloured bugs from around the level and then make their way to the exit. To make things interesting, there are various weapons and power-ups available. Missiles, mines and a shield allow you to batter other players, and a device called a stealer allows you to pinch bugs they have already collected if you can hit them with it. There are also three different mystery weapons which have some pretty bizarre effects on your opponents' viewing windows.

The Love Bug

What makes the multiplayer so much fun is the simplicity of the gameplay -- not too many weapons and a fairly straightforward objective -- and some extremely well-designed battle arenas. Usually in this type of game you get some areas that are fun and others that just don't play very well, but in this each arena offers different challenges and a different style of play. To begin with, only three battle stages are open because as mentioned previously to unlock the others (there are nine in all) you need to collect the bonus points in the one-player game.

Graphically, Beetle Adventure Racing is extremely impressive. The detail on each of the tracks is superb, and -- apart from one or two very rare exceptions where things just get too much and things slow down ever so I slightly -- the whole game runs very I smoothly and very fast throughout, even in four-player. The range of different terrains is incredible, with different s environments being present on every track. And each track is totally different from the others!

The variety of different routes on each stage is just astounding, and some of them are so well hidden that you'll probably take ages to find them all.

It's Better Than Golf

One refreshing part of the game is the way that the hidden routes have been designed to keep the action going. Repeatedly your car will plunge into a chasm, having not quite managed to jump a broken bridge, or tumble down the side of a mountain after not-quite making the corner and you expect the car to be destroyed and then placed back on the track. Instead you more likely to drop into a previously unseen area and start following a totally separate route through unfamiliar terrain, thus keeping the pace going.

This, coupled with the fact that on many tracks you can quite literally roam the landscape to your heart's content - on the desert track you don't need to follow the road at all and can instead just wander off over the dunes -- makes Beetle Adventure Racing a joy to play. Random wandering is even actively encouraged, because when you do it you often find yet more hidden paths which may or may not help you to win the race.

Quite simply, Beetle Adventure Racing is the most fun, most exciting and most satisfying racing game on the N64 to date. If you want serious, realistic racing then F1 World Grand Prix might be more to your taste but if you want to experience wild driving thrills across, over and even under some breathtaking and detailed landscapes then Beetle Adventure Racing is the one to buy!

reggie posted a review

For some reason, the powerhouse that is Electronic Arts (not counting EA Sports) has shied away from the N64. The company has released a ton of kick-ass PC and PSX titles, but they just have never touched the N64 -- until now. I think I can say with utmost certainty that the wait was worth every second, because their first game, Beetle Adventure Racing (BAR), may very well be the best racing game on the system to date. They enlisted the development expertise of Paradium Entertainment (of F1 fame) and released a game that puts some of the second- and third-generation titles to shame. All this, and it does not even use the RAM Pak.

The game has the Volkswagen license (hence the name Beetle) and you race a bunch of hopped-up VW bugs. Doesn't sound like much fun, does it? I didn't think so either. However, once you get out there and start flying through the tracks, searching for shortcuts, it quickly becomes apparent that this is one of the best-designed arcade racing games around. Get over the fact that they are VW's and let the races begin.

Gameplay

So my first thought, as is almost everybody's, was "How much fun could a game based on racing VW Beetles be?" I thought this was a huge mistake on EA's part. You can't just give gamers one type of car, especially a car that is not thought of as a racing machine. People are going to scream about this, I thought. So going into the game, I feel I was a little jaded. I started up that first race and by the time I was a quarter of the way through the first track, I was hooked. It did not matter to me that I was racing in a VW Bug any longer. Hell, I could have been racing around in a Big Mac with wheels for all I cared. It became very apparent that the cars were not the highlight of this game. With that said, I still think it was a little lame that you only had one type of car to race -- but once you unlock some of the faster cars, it really does not matter that the cars all look the same.

I really did not care much for the Rush series. I thought it was pretty good, but not great. The reason I bring this up is because BAR has some similarities to Rush, but I just enjoyed the game so much more. Both games have some serious high-flying jump action, power sliding and shortcuts galore. There was just something about this game that made it stand out above the rest.

Let's talk about these shortcuts for a minute. When I say that the game sports shortcuts, do not underestimate what this means. I don't mean that the game has an occasional branching path or side route. Nope. Let's put it this way -- I raced one track at least six times and found a different route each time. There are that many secrets. The best part about it is the fact that not all the alternative routes actually help you in terms of race time. Some of the routes are actually slower than taking the beaten path. This added tremendously to the replay value of the game. I actually got to the point where I would race on a track just to scout out all the different routes and decide which were time savers and which were not. I can honestly say that I have never paid this much attention to track layout on any other game.

Aside from the shortcuts, the tracks themselves varied from snow to sand to caves to lava and everything else in between. Even if you race the tracks and try to stay on the normal path, the tracks are all a blast. There is just the right combination of straightway, sharp corners and insane jumps. There are actually jumps that will shoot you so high up that you will hit the roof of a cavern. It is a total blast. If you are looking for realism, you will be very disappointed. If you are looking for outrageous arcade-like tracks, you will be in heaven.

I want to jump back to the cars for a minute. As I mentioned above, your only option in cars is a Volkswagen Beetle. Each of these cars is not created equal, however. As with every racing game, the cars are ranked by top speed, acceleration and handling. As you progress through the championship mode, you will unlock faster cars that handle better. The handling of the cars is pretty good, but can be frustrating at times. One of the first things you will need to master is the hand brake to help you power-slide around the corners. This is where the frustration comes in. I can't tell you how many times I hit the hand brake and started sliding sideways, only to be stopped by slamming into a wall. On a positive note, they did a great job of making the cars handle and react as you would expect on the different conditions. For example, you will slide forever on snow and ice. You can't get good traction on sand. These are the types of details a lot of game companies just overlook as though they are not important, but I have news for you -- they are!

The last thing I really found cool about the game was the bonus system. Well, this is not entirely true. The way the bonus system worked was cool, but the reward was not that exciting to me. The reward was opening up multiplayer arenas, and since I really don't play much multiplayer on the consoles, I would have rather had new tracks or different cars. I still really liked the way that the system worked, though. There were boxes with numbers on them. As you smashed through each box, you received the number of bonus points stated on the box. Each track had a total of 100 points worth of boxes and you had to get the entire 100 points to open the bonus tracks. Talk about damn impossible! First off, the boxes were always someplace off the beaten path so you had to go looking for them as well as worry about winning the race. This was quite a challenge. The thing that I liked best about these boxes was that they were clues to shortcuts. They would either mark the hidden entrance to a secret area, or you would see a box way above your head and it would let you know that there had to be a way to get the box. The challenge was figuring out how to do it.

My only real complaint with the game was that the tracks were a bit on the long side for my tastes. Even though there was so much to do on each track, I found myself starting to drift a bit on the last lap. I mean, races can be as long as eight minutes each, which is a long time to race on the same track. Other than that, I can't really think of anything to complain about.

Graphics

How they are getting away with the graphics in this game without using the RAM Pak, I will never know. It only makes me wonder what it could have been had they used the extra memory. WOW! As it stands now, the graphics are top notch. No fog, no drawn in, no blur. The cars can look a little jagged up close, but that is just nit-picking. The racing environments are just awesome.

Bottom Line

This has to be the best racer on the N64. I can't explain how much fun this game is. Sure, it sucks that you only race VWs, but you will get over that very quickly. If arcade style racing games are your bag, you will really enjoy this game. I just hope EA does not wait another two years to release a game.

reggie posted a review
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