Still Makes a Better Cartoon than a Game
Wacky Races: Crash & Dash is based on the vintage cartoon Wacky Races that is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It was the original kart racer, featuring a series of outrageous cartoon characters with outrageous vehicles doing outrageous things to win a race.
Even though the show was loaded with recurring characters, the undisputed stars were the adversaries, Dick Dasterdly and his hench-dog, Muttley. Unfortunately, you don’t get to play as the bad guys in Crash and Dash; you’ll play as the other characters in this game.
Wacky Races: Crash & Dash, as a concept, has been done to death. It’s little more than your average kart racer and a poor imitation of Mario Kart. We’ve seen Wacky Races games released on various systems over the years and include the Dreamcast and the Game Boy Color. The improvements on the DS are remarkable in comparison to the GBC, but even the sophisticated graphics engine can’t save the redundant and predictable gameplay. And to make matter worse, the gameplay is marred by the control system. In an attempt to utilize the DS’s unique interactive features, the results do little more than turn this into a clumsy novelty game.
In a series of cross-country rallies, you will be able to play as your second favorite character from the original show. Each character, or team, comes with his or her unique vehicle. Each vehicle has different characteristics which you can exploit to win the race, but you’ve got to watch out for Dick Dasterdly and Muttley, as they spring a variety of traps on you and your vehicle. They’ve got the fastest car in the race, the Mean Machine, but usually they are so busy sabotaging the other racers they fail to take advantage of it.
Other vehicles include the Slag Brother’s Bouldermobile, which is a Flintstone-like vehicle made of stone. Then there’s Penelope Pitstop’s Compact Pussycat, loaded with all kinds of cosmetic gear that can be used as offensive weapons such as the powder puff that creates a smokescreen effect. A team of Munster and Adam’s Family-inspired characters drive a horror-themed vehicle called the Creepy Croupe, which contains bats in the belfry and a dragon on board. The Convert-a-Car is the invention of Professor Pat Pending and is capable of riding on land and water as well as being able to take to the air.
All the characters and vehicles are playable right from the start. There’s no waiting and nothing to unlock. It kind of takes the incentive away to keep playing because after you’ve tried a few different vehicles, you begin to realize there isn’t much appreciable difference among them. All the vehicles are controlled by the stylus. It’s placed in front of the vehicle where you attempt to outline its path. This is not only highly unusual but it doesn’t really serve any useful function other than as an excuse to drag out the stylus, which you’ve probably already lost by now. Placing the stylus in front of the vehicle not only feels awkward, like dragging a wagon, but at times your hand will be at angles that will actually limit your view of the screen.
The stylus is also used for avoiding collisions with other racers as well as repairing the vehicle after an attack or encounter with an opponent’s weapon or booby trap. But wait – there are more bells and whistles. Blowing into the microphone will boost your speed during the final lap. Hopefully you’re not far-sighted, or you won’t be able to see what’s happening on the screen while it’s directly in front of your face.
It just doesn’t make any sense to have to do this other than to exploit the DS’s features. I’ve always heard you should never directly blow into a microphone, as it will damage the sensitive diaphragm. For whatever reason, more games seem to require blowing into it rather than talking into it. So, if your mic stops working one day, you’ll know why.
Power-up widgets are collected along the course by driving over them. These give all the vehicles identical abilities, which makes it more difficult to tell them apart. Power-ups include speed boosts, damage shields, and the ability to fly over the pack by being picked up by a pterodactyl. Other specialty power-ups allow you to launch various assaults on your opponents including turning your vehicle into a huge rock and literally rolling over the competition. You don’t have to use the power-up immediately. You can collect two and use them at your discretion by using the D-pad to select the appropriate icon and then deploy it.
The game is colorful and looks every bit as good as the original cartoon did some 40 years ago. The characters, vehicles, and tracks are cel-shaded, giving it a very professional look. There are 24 different tracks in all, but in true Hanna-Barbera style, some sections repeat as though they are on a loop. Perspectives continually change, making it more difficult to keep track of the track when using the stylus. These varied camera angles are indented to replicate the visual aspect of the TV series, but they are not suited for such an interactive game. The tunes and the voiceovers are largely forgettable. The sound effects are pure cartoon, and were obviously culled from the “universal cartoon library” of boffs, skids, thuds, smacks, and crashes.
Wacky Racers is still a better cartoon than a game. Crash and Dash is proof of that.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Looks like the cartoon series. Annoying camera angles confound gameplay. 2.3 Control
Using the stylus to draw a path is unique, but there’s a reason no one has done it before. 2.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Average music and voiceovers. Good cartoon sound effects. 2.5
Average kart racer game. No multiplayer.
2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.