Hot Wheels Turbo Racing
Any of you out there with a respectable childhood will have no doubt at some time come across the brightly coloured Mattel Hot Wheels toys. It was great fun to spend hours with your mates organising meticulously well planned crashes on twisting chicanes of track. This game is for everyone who couldn't afford enough of the plastic track sections to make a complete circuit.
Unfortunately, EA has managed to ideate the plastic experience all too well in this game, and you can't help but feeling that this was great opportunity missed. Within minutes of playing this Hot Wheels you'll realise the game doesn't require much in the way of skill This is all because, like the Mattel toys, the track hedges you in on both sides, in most cases preventing you from turning. This would be all right if this slowed you down, but for the majority of the track you can simply hold down the accelerator with no need for turning. An occasional turbo here and there and a win is pretty much guaranteed.
Having said that, the final tournament in the game, the Twinmill Challenge, is quite a tough cookie to crack, but ultimately not impossible. Within one day of playing this game all the cars and all the tracks were unlocked - hard this game is not! There are loads of vehicles on offer though, so if you don't tire of the repetitive gameplay there is some small potential for replay value. There is a grand total of 40 cars once they've all been opened up.
As you might expect from an officially licensed game like this all the cars on offer are actual Mattel Hot Wheels die-cast vehicles - and what great names they have. Someone at Mattel must have had a serious phallic obsession to christen two of the cars Purple Passion and Street Rodder! The cars themselves don't handle too badly, but on the confined tracks this doesn't really make any difference. Where it does matter is when you are flying through the air spinning through thousands of degrees, performing tricks a fighter pilot would have trouble stomaching.
Tricks and turbos are what Hot Wheels is all about, which is a shame because this has to be one of the biggest mistakes in the game. If there's one thing a car cannot do, it's tricks! Think about it - a car just cannot turn that many different ways, and it's not as if you can stick your arm out the window and do a nose grab! You're limited to flat spins, flips and barrel rolls, which all quickly become repetitive, but are unfortunately unavoidable. The reason is that to win turbos, you must do tricks.
To make matters even worse, you cannot link tricks together and the trick detection itself is atrociously bad. Picture the scene: you arrive at a ramp and manage to get enough air to tweak the nose of the car a bit before you land. Superb - you've been awarded a 'Stolen Air' and one turbo. Do the same trick again though, and it could be called anything from a 'Tribal Air' to a 'Spooky Air'. What this means is that you don't get the satisfaction that comes from a well-planned assault on the air - everything seems to be too random. The only tricks which are guaranteed to get the correct recognition are things such as front flips, but even these are occasionally ignored.
Loop the loop
As well as the usual Single Race and Tournament modes you get the Airtime Challenge, which is basically a variation standard Trick Attack. The idea is to go as mad as possible and pull off as many tricks and stunts as you can for points. It's great to switch to the first- person in-car view for this mode and just go for as many flips and twists as possible in the air, but keep a bucket to hand. Pull off four or more front flips to be awarded a 'Frontflip Fury'. Alas, getting high scores here doesn't do a thing in the game, but it's great for showing up your mates.
Whatever you do though, don't go out and buy this game simply for the multiplayer experience because you will be severely disappointed. For some unexplainable reason EA has neglected to upgrade the two-player PlayStation version to four-player on the N64. Graphics have been improved slightly and the game runs at a fast enough rate, but surely it can't have been too difficult to make good use of the four controller ports. After all, it's not as if the game is I too taxing!
A nice idea for a game that is seriously let down by simplistic and repetitive gameplay. If you're trying to recapture your youth, go out and find some of the real toys - they're collectable now, you know!
Hot Wheels Turbo Racing DownloadsHot Wheels Turbo Racing download
It comes as no surprise to find that Hot Wheels is a peculiarly American type of racing game, and one that has a lot in common with San Francisco Rush and Beetle Adventure Racing. Namely, ridiculously huge jumps and very little in the way of precision handling.
Based on the popular range of toy cars, the emphasis in Hot Wheels is on going very fast, smashing opponents out of the way, and pulling stunts, the reward for which comes in turbos. Unfortunately, stunts are simply a case of pushing the analogue stick up, down or sideways, with none of the intricacy of similar systems in Wave Race and 1080° Snowboarding. And most of the tracks are so narrow that winning a race is merely a matter - a la Extreme G - of bouncing off walls until you reach the finish line.
Inevitably, Hot Wheels becomes a bit of a chore once the exaggerated racing/jumping novelty has worn off. There's not much demand for skill, and therefore not much reward, so we'll stick with Mario Kart and World Driver Championship for the time being. Thank you and goodnight.