20 Jun, 2008

Speed Racer Review

Wii Review | Go Speed, Go!
Speed Racer is the game tie in to the film which was released only recently in cinemas. The movie is based on the old Japanese anime and was written and directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, who are best known for their work on The Matrix films. While the reviews of the film weren't overly scathing, the film appears to have been a financial flop, reportedly costing $120 million while bringing in under $20 million in its first week at the box office. This brings us to the Speed Racer game, which was developed by New Zealand developer Sidhe Interactive, so is the game a worthy pickup or a whole lot of colour without any substance?

The Speed Racer film is all about about fast cars and bright colours and the Speed Racer game has the same focus. The best way to describe Speed Racer is F-Zero mixed with Tekken. The vehicles you take control of (the T-180's) are fast, they can go in excess of 500KM/H and Sidhe Interactive has done a brilliant job in giving the player a great sense of speed. You'll fly round corners, and see the crowds whirl past you at an incredible pace. The game also supports the Wii Wheel and the controls are fantastic, driving a T-180 at over 500KM an hour through tracks that twist and turn could have been an absolute nightmare, but the developers have done a brilliant job in perfecting the driving controls. The game is remarkably simple to pick up and we didn't really realise just how fast the gameplay was until we tried (very unsuccessfully) to return to Mario Kart.

This is the type of game where you should read the epilepsy warning.

This is the type of game where you should read the epilepsy warning.
Rather than directly try and mimic F-Zero, the developers have added their own additions to the futuristic racing game. Much like in the film, the T-180's can jump by simply moving the Wii Remote upward and toward you. This means you can jump on top of other vehicles and destroy them, gaining valuable boost and Car-Fu points. You can also shunt your opponents by moving the Wii Remote very quickly to the left and right. Jumping and shunting may seem like a gimmick, but once a T-180 jumps on top of your vehicle while you're heading towards the finish line, relegating you to the back of the pack, you'll begin to jump and shunt yourself. The AI is aggressive, which means that jumping and shunting soon becomes as essential as steering.

We've mentioned Car-Fu, but what exactly is it? Well, Car-Fu is the artful manoeuvring and fighting of opponents. When you're jumping you can use the directional pad on the Wii Remote to perform stunts, which may send your opponent into a spin, or cause them to crash or even turn your opponent around. As you pull off these moves the name of the move will flash up on screen and you'll get a quick health boost. There are also allies and enemies to take note of and it is even possible to slipstream off your opponents. So while Speed Racer may seem like a shallow racer, once you spend a bit of time with the game it is remarkably and surprisingly in-depth.

Believe it not, activating boost means you'll go even faster.

Believe it not, activating boost means you'll go even faster.
Gameplay wise Speed Racer is a very solid game, but it does contain a few problems. Once you've passed the first class things become ridiculously punishing, if you crash your car you're basically doomed to finish near the end of the pack. The cars often also have a habit of turning the wrong way, often at times beyond your control, such as when you take a large jump, but overall these are only really minor issues and Speed Racer is a surprisingly solid game.

One avenue where the game does fall down is when it comes to the gameplay options. Players can do a time trial or a single race, but the main single player component isn't all that in-depth and is simply a championship mode. There are three classes in the championship mode (as well as an unlockable class) and as you progress you'll unlock new tracks and new racers, but overall the single player mode is rather underwhelming. There is no story mode, which means the game is rather light on content and we didn't unlock any film clips from the movie, which is a bit bizarre for a movie game tie in. One of the things that will have you coming back to Speed Racer is the multiplayer. The game does not support online play, or more than two players but the game is a lot of fun in multiplayer. All the Car-Fu moves transfer over to the multiplayer mode and it's also possible to play through all of the championship options in multiplayer, which is a great addition.

As you progress you'll unlock new cars, but not a lot more content unfortunately.

As you progress you'll unlock new cars, but not a lot more content unfortunately.
The main thing that lets Speed Racer down is the lack of content. With only a few championship modes those who prefer to play on their lonesome will probably be a little bit disappointed by how quickly they will finish the game. However, in terms of gameplay Speed Racer is a very solid game. Any Wii owner who has been hoping that F-Zero would make the leap to the Wii should immediately rush out and purchase Speed Racer, as the game is the closest you can get to F-Zero until the game appears on the Wii. Speed Racer is a classic example of exactly how to do a movie game tie in correctly and even though the multiplayer is the highlight of Speed Racer the single player component is a lot of fun, while it lasts.
The Score
Speed Racer is a very solid movie game tie in that does justice to the film. In fact, it's easily the best movie game tie in of the year, aside from the lack of content the game is a lot of fun and makes every other racing game feel slow. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Speed Racer Content

Speed Racer media
09 Apr, 2008 Zoom Zoom.
Speed Racer game on the way
29 Oct, 2007 Go Speed Racer, go!
More screens from Speed Racer
10 Mar, 2008 Get your motor running.
5 years ago
the serious lack of wipeout/f-zero is forcing me to purchase this

aside from the lack of content, the game seems to be really well done anyway
5 years ago
I thought the movie was just plain awesome. I spent half the the length of the flick just marvelling in the sheer ambitiousness of the visual style. If the game is even close to the high-octane thrill-ride that is the movie, I'll have to give it try.
5 years ago
Cool, a cool movie that has a cool game.

Colour me shocked.
5 years ago
I've been reveling in this candy coated racer all week since the movie left me in a delirious seizure. I've been delighted with the unfolding depth of combat and incredible sensation of speed. I love how the shimmering colours desaturate after a few boosts!

Wait for the inevitable bargain binning if the lack of content and recycled tracks bother you, but do play this game. It's fun and has a robust split screen mode - the co-op grand prix missing from MK (without the drop in resolution)!
5 years ago
döppelgangbang wrote
Wait for the inevitable bargain binning
shouldn't be too long really, what with no one seeing the film and all icon_lol.gif
5 years ago
^ I know, it's such a shame. I went into Speed Racer not expecting much and ended up really liking it, except for the monkey.
5 years ago
Yeah i was surprised how much i liked the movie also, except for the 'Sprittle and Monkey' scenes

So a good movie-tie in game....
*head asplosion*
5 years ago
So the movie is actually decent icon_dumb.gif ? From all the ads/previews Ive seen, I honestly thought it looked terrible. I know you say the game had little content, but I assumed it would be because the movie had little content. Am slightly tempted to go see the movie now...
5 years ago
the movie isn't bad, but it's obvious they just tried a bit too hard to turn it into a family-friendly film

plot/character development/pacing/other important things aside, the film certainly delivers when it comes to visuals and action
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Australian Release Date:
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  Warner Brothers Interactive
  Sidhe Interactive

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