Speed Racer: The Video Game Review for the Nintendo Wii

Speed Racer: The Video Game Review for the Nintendo Wii

As with any “blockbuster” movie set for a summer release, Speed Racer has gotten the movie tie-in treatment. Love it or hate it, the trend towards making this type of games is not looking to change any time soon, and you’ve still got Wall-E, The Incredible Hulk, and Kung Fu Panda tie-ins to look forward to this summer. But as crazy as it might sound, not all movie tie-ins are bad. For instance, the Transformers tie-in games were pretty decent, and the games based on the Cars franchise were actually quite enjoyable. So can a movie tie-in based on Speed Racer be any good? Unfortunately, the short answer is no. < /p>

Speed Racer screenshot

The entire game is not a complete waste of time, but it does come mighty close. One of the most memorable things about the Speed Racer movie is its amazing visual style. Almost every frame of the movie is filled with a ridiculously over-the-top color palate, and special effects run rampant. Tracks in the film come to life and feature amazing obstacles in the form of elemental components, amazing gaps, and insane loops. And while some of these elements are presented in the game, the entire experience seems like a dingy reflection of the brilliance of the movie.

Take the track designs, for instance. Tracks here feature some very bright colors but lack the vibrancy of the movie color palettes. There are a few exciting turns and gaps, but these are nothing compared to the giant lava pits or walls of ice that you see in the film. Another area where the game misses the mark is in terms of the abilities of the cars. The movie definitely highlighted some of the crazy vehicle abilities, including its spiked tires, killer armor, and of course, weaponry. It is a bit sad the game does not feature some of these weapons, and I wish that they could have been incorporated into the rally scheme somehow.

But this title is not all bad news. One of the best facets of Speed Racer is all the unlockables. You start the game with only three characters (Speed, Trixie, and Racer X), and you are able to unlock many more characters from the anime and the movie including Delia, and the always lovable Prince Kabala. There are also some completely original characters. In addition to the characters, there are also several tracks that were featured in the movie you are able to unlock. There is definitely plenty to do here in terms of unlockable content, but the trouble is that there’s not that much more to do in this game.

Speed Racer screenshot

There are four main modes: championship mode, single race, time trial, and two-player. Championship mode is the main mode of the game, and has you picking a character and racing in a championship series. As long as you place in the top three, you’ll be able to claim victory and reap the unlockable benefits. One interesting facet of the championship mode is an optional alliance screen that you can pull up before races. On the alliance screen you can reach out to other racers who may become your allies if they like your driving. These allies will help you take down your enemies. Time trial mode and single race mode let you race through different tracks you’ve unlocked individually, and two player mode lets you race with a friend for either a single track race or a championship race.

Although the game does not provide you with access to different weapons, it would not be a Speed Racer game without Car-Fu. And while it’s not implemented as smoothly as one might have hoped, at least it still exists. Car-Fu in this game essentially entails ramming into the backside or side of your enemy racers and then trying to spin wildly to perform a stylish move. There are seven Car-Fu moves in all, including tail tosses, boot bashers, hyper spins, and roundhouses. And while these moves are pretty easy to trigger, it is very difficult to actually hit an opponent instead of dead air. The moves are rather sluggish, and it is easier to opt to just swerve around opponents rather than try to use Car-Fu against them. The only real advantage to using Car-Fu in the later stages is that it does give you bonus points and becomes more of a necessity in later tracks.

Speed Racer screenshot

Control in this game is pretty awkward. The game makes exclusive use of the Wii-mote for steering, and is also compatible with the Wii Wheel peripheral. There are two main ways to control: with the controller face up or the controller facing you. And while having the controller face you makes the control feel a little more natural, the car does not respond very quickly when you use this control scheme.

The best way to control is with the controller facing up, performing tilting motions to steer. However, this control scheme does seem a little awkward at first and gives the impression that you’re driving a bus rather than driving a high powered vehicle. There is also a noticeable autosteering component to the control that fills in the gaps when you are asleep at the wheel. And while this may prevent frustration in the smaller crowd that plays this title, those who like to have complete control over their games might be a little disappointed. It would have been nice if you were able to turn the autosteering off, but after scouring through several menus, I was not able to find such an option.

Speed Racer screenshot

Graphics in this title are definitely below average and look blurry. Looking at the game is a little weird because while the foreground action looks blurry and out of focus, the background images are much sharper. This makes for some serious difficulty in terms of the player’s ability to focus on the race, and it is very easy for the eyes to be drawn away from the action. Animation quality is so-so, but the blurry look of the game really detracts from this visual component. One interesting thing about the visuals I did like, however, were the character stills. Despite the revamped look of the Speed Racer series for the movie, the stills have a more vintage look to them that recalls the original anime.

Sound in this game is quite good. Each track has its own music, which is sampled from the movie score. Voice acting is also very good and features voice work by the original actors from the movie. Both of these components make the sound scheme one of the best facets of the entire game.

So does the Speed Racer videogame continue the status quo of mediocre-or-less movie tie-ins? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. It has lackluster graphics, awkward controls, and just doesn’t make a memorable or worthwhile game experience. And while small details like the sound or unlockable characters may give this title some value, on the whole it will probably just prove to be just another underwhelming and unmemorable movie tie-in game from 2008.

The vehicle and track graphics are very blurry, which is strange because backgrounds look sharp. Characters don’t move, but I can give appreciate their old-school style. 2.0 Control
Definitely take some getting used to…holding the Wii Wheel/ Wii-mote horizontally feels more like driving a bus rather than the Mach 6. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Diverse track music and voice acting are quite enjoyable. 3.0

Play Value
Despite the overwhelming monotony of the different tracks, there is quite a bit to unlock here for the committed fan. But if you’re looking for actual gameplay depth, this is not the title to find it in.

2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play more than 19 characters from the film featuring the voices of Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer, Matthew Fox as Racer X, and Christina Ricci as Trixie.
  • High-speed action going over 400 MPH as you race through amazing stadiums tracks featuring loops, corkscrews, jumps and more.
  • Master Car-Fu combat and fight your way to the finish by smashing, jumping, flipping, and spinning other cars off the track Split-screen multi-player racing on the Wii lets you take on…or take out…your friends.
  • Compatible with the Wii wheel.

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