California Speed

Download California Speed and race through the Golden State! Experience iconic locations, customize your ride, and compete for the title of California's fastest driver. Buckle up and play now!
a game by Atari Co.
Genre: Racing
Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64
Editor Rating: 8.3/10, based on 2 reviews, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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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.

Download California Speed

Nintendo 64

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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...

Take the driving gameplay of Rush 2, the look of Cruis'n World, sprinkle in some Off-Road, add a touch of Cruis'n USA and wham--you have California Speed. It's that easy, kids! Actually, while that sounds a bit sarcastic, it's really close to what California Speed has to offer. And while we often scoff at the simplicity of these games, we realize lots of you like them. So we'll hold our tongues for the rest of this preview.

Like its coin-op counterpart, California Speed has a lot of tracks--14 to be exact. Each course is like a minitour of a particular city. In San Diego you hit the harbor and race on the decks of ships. In San Francisco you can ride the suspension of the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. Fantasy portions include a romp through the innards of a computer, a roller coaster, a psychedelic highway, a mall and more. The game, of course, has keys and shortcuts.

California Speed has some peculiar vehicles: a forklift, a front-end loader, a golf cart and a semi. Strangely enough, these vehicles don't take advantage of their equipment. It'd be fun to spear other cars with the forklift.

Overall, the control is decent. Let's be thankful they didn't use the lackluster Cruis'n USA engine. The frame-rate is actually very good, but the trademark Midway two-speed theory applies--full speed or stop (there doesn't seem to be middle speeds in their games). For those who enjoy the simplistic play of an arcade racer, California Speed will no doubt satisfy.

Midway's streak of bringing hot arcade racers home continues with California Speed, its third N64 title to use the Rush engine.

Burnin Rubber

A popular arcade speedfest, California Speed peels out on the N64 with 14 tracks in the Golden State, including courses in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite, and the Mojave Desert. Each track spices up the action with a wild fantasy branch, like an awesome ride along the roller coasters of Santa Cruz's Boardwalk or a pedestrian-endangering detour through a mall. Drivers will also be able to race the courses backward or mirrored.

As far as the cars go, the arcade lineup will return, including the golf cart and the F1 racer, plus Midway plans to add new cars to the game. Other N64-only additions include new shortcuts on the tracks, custom paint jobs for the cars, and a Tournament mode. Two players will also be able to trade paint in the splitscreen mode.

California Rush?

In the arcades, California Speed's a fast, slick ride that blasts through all kinds of wild tracks. In bringing Speed to the N64, Midway is using the Rush engine.. .and it shows. Naturally enough, the graphics won't compare to their arcade beauty, but they'll certainly look familiar to Rush fans--California Speed could almost be mistaken for Rush 3.

The home Version of California Speed's gameplay has also changed to reflect the Rush influence, packing in a lot more of the wild jumps and crazy wipeouts that are trademarks of Rush. Fortunately, the Rush games have always ranked among the N64s best racers, and California Speed looks like one of the hot prospects for the first half of the year.

Caufornia Speed is an adrenaline-blitzed arcade-style sonic-boom tour from the makers o' SF Rush that serves up surprises and excitement through every stunning track. Unfortunately, like any scenic tour, it grows wearier with each pass.

California Dreaming'

Speed offers 14 eye-catching tracks through some hair-raising locales such as the urban jungle of LA, the belly of an alien spacecraft, and a winding roller coaster. Aside from some very distant fog and light pop-up, the lightning-paced graphical action comes on strong--fans of the arcade version will be pleased at how smooth and clean Speed's ride is on the N64. However, the crashes could be a lot more spectacular considering the velocity the game's roadsters achieve.

Sounds and Shids

Speed offers a unique song for each track, matching techno-thrash beats with the games furious roadway action in fine style. The sound effects are also dead-on: Your tires shriek perfectly during skids and are nicely complemented by the resisting force of the Rumble Pak.

Speed's control interface is intuitive enough for racing vets, who will be in the hunt for the top spot on their first run-through, but may be too loose initially for sim vets (don't worry, SF Rushers--you'll feel right at home). Inexplicably, all the cars handle the same: When was the last time you saw a golf cart hold its own against a high-performance racer?

And what happened to the horsepower? True to its arcade nature, Speed is a one-trick pony--you're here to see the sights. Despite its mirrored tracks, some hidden shortcuts, and a variety of race circuits, the only real replay value lies in the game's two-player contests. And although Speed's flawless split-screen racing is impressive (considering its heavy environmental detail), its no more so than SF Rush's, which is actually far more exciting thanks to the aerial acrobatics you can perform.

Rental Car?

Fans of California Speed's arcade counterpart will bask in this sharp N64 port, but serious racing fans may be disappointed by the game's lack of replay depth. Consider this a rental title--lease with an option to buy.


  • You'll maintain better speed on the lower level of the mall. Watch out for the center is-lands-or you're toast.
  • On the LA track, stay to the right of each fork-it's always faster.
  • Always stay in the middle of wide roads to have the best shot at making upcoming turns.
  • The golf cart isn't as puny as It looks. Use its surprise power and extra lift to humiliate opponents!
  • Anticipate the turns on Santa Cruz's roller-coaster track to keep your speed maxed out.


Speed's got the feed for those in need of a graphics stampede. This game looks slick thanks to its 14 gorgeously designed, uniquely detailed tracks. Racers will also be stoked that there's little popup and that the fog is unobtrusive.


With a separate, equally electric score for each track and crisp, thrashing wheels, squeals, and peels. Speed sounds like it's a CD-based game.


Speed's tight, responsive controls will keep you on the road and in the thick of each race. Unfortunately, all the cars handle the same--the trucks drive just like the golf carts. Where's the variety?

Fun Factor

California Speeds a gushing graphics feast that plays like you're taking a scenic tour through the Quaking State, but the handling trips on the line between sim and arcade. Furthermore, the replay value tanks once you've seen all the sights.

Snapshots and Media

Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

See Also

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