California Speed

a game by Atari Co.
Genre: Racing
Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64
Editor Rating: 8.3/10, based on 2 reviews
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See also: California Games
California Speed
California Speed
California Speed
California Speed

People say:


This game can be pretty silly at times-or maybe I should call it off-centered originality. Whatever it is. that's what I like about California Speed. It's quick, fun and the control is tight. Wait a sec... that was a couple of hours ago. CS Is quick and easy to get into, but it's just as easy to lose interest in since it does have its share of problems - problems that outweigh its superficial good points. First, there are some weird graphical glitches here and there. For example, there is traffic on the courses. If you hit any of the non-opponent traffic, it shoots up into the air. Kind of cool-except that it suddenly appears out of nowhere in the same spot It just launched from! This is just one of several annoyances. In addition, the courses are a bit short and the shortcuts within some of the tracks really don't act as shortcuts...they're more like same cuts-they don't gain you any ground. Next, the Al is ridiculously difficult. The CPU cars seem to be able to take comers without braking at all, while you still have to. Plus, they blow past you a lot even if your speed is maxed out. and you're not hitting any walls or obstacles. Apparently, they're perfect. Finally, the frame-rate gets choppy in the mode. Overall it turns out to be a sloppy game, with a single-player mode that fails to keep your attention for long.


Except for its unique tracks (you wind along a roller coaster, through a mall, etc.), Californio Speed is unremarkable in nearly every way. Graphics are so-so. Control is OK, although some speed-sapping bumps against track wails seem unavoidable. Vou get a few interesting vehicles--all ofwhich perform about the same (even the golf cart). Above all, California Speed plays like a ehurned-out port of a simplistic arcade game.


Cal Speed has "quick arcade port spray painted all over it. The game engine is very poor and primitive, meaning little kids might like this game. If you're any type of experienced gamer, however, you won't get any enjoyment out of Cal Speed. It's a no-frills, no-thrills, no-skills-needed racer that only has cool level designs to brag about. This game needs a hook, like having to look for secret soda cans or something similar...


Of Midway's archaically simple racers, Rush 2 is the best. Cal Speed doesn't come close. It uses the Rush engine, so it's fairly fast and smooth. The cars are nimbler than those in Rush and there are more of them. Vet, the lack of turbos and useful shortcuts hurts. The overly long and mundane tracks will lull you to sleep. Plus it's too hard! The CPU cars are too dominant. Cruis'n fans might like it, but I'll stick to Beetle Adventure Racing.

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Game Reviews

Gulp! California Speed is effectively the third game in the Cruis'n series, following in the malformed tyre tracks of world-class clunkers Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n World. Luckily, Midway has realised that the sheer nastiness of these two games just isn't good enough any more, and instead based California Speed more on their other racing franchise, the successful Rush series.

Set in the sun-smacked, brain-toasted state of California, California Speed features more than a dozen tracks, ranging from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. All the tracks have reversed and mirrored versions for use in the game's Tournament modes. Following the lead of the Rush games, the new tracks are loaded with outrageous features like rollercoasters, and there are as many as 20 different vehicles to race through them with. All the cars can be customised, again like Rush 2. Puke-inducing lime green with puce stripes cars ahoy!

While the look of the tracks may be more like Rush 2, the gameplay is designed to be arcade-simple, like the Cruis'n games, though hopefully with a bit more in the way of involvement. All you have to do is put the pedal to the metal and remember to steer! California Speed does promise more interesting tracks than its predecessors, with hidden short cuts to find and car physics that at least bare a passing resemblance to the real world.

The different vehicles include the usual American muscle, classic racers, Formula 1 cars and even a golf cart (?). Unlike the original Cruis'n games, where you simply took what you were given and made the best of it, California Speed allows players to tweak the performance of their car to suit the different track conditions.

What felled Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n World was the fact that what works in an arcade for 20 pence a play isn't necessarily worth forking out 50 quid or so to play at home. Hopefully, California Speed will have added a little more depth in its translation from coin-op to cartridge. We'll find out next issue when we get the import game in for review...

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Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

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