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Jun 18, 2008

Review: Speed Racer: The Videogame for the Nintendo DS & Wii

Speed Racer
Warner Bros Interactive, Sidhe
Available for Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS

When most people think about a video game based on a movie, we tend to think about crappy studio cash grabs, but surprisingly Speed Racer, the videogame based on the recent blockbuster movie, didn’t turn out to be such bad game after all, on either Nintendo Wii or Nintendo DS.

Each version of the game allows players to experience what it’s like to be in the driver’s seat of Speed Racer car as you speed through tunnels, drive around loop de loops tracks and try to take out your rival’s car with “car fu” moves. Each game had a good selection of drivers from the Speed Racer series that you could choose to play as and the Wii version even had some of the actors like Christina Ricci and Emile Hirsh doing their voice-overs.

In the Wii version, you could play three different game modes: single race let you drive for practice, while time trial let you attempt to break your race times. The championship mode had you racing against 20 other cars and awarded you points depends on where you place in the race. You had to place 1, 2 or 3 to beat a race, which would then unlock new competitions, cars and drivers.

In the DS version, you could play five different game modes: quick race let you practice drive, time attack let you set time records alone on the tracks, quick stunts had you beating records for the most fans gained by performing stunts and quick battle had you defeating a record number of opponents on the track. Finally World Racing League mode allowed players to run 3 or 5 tracks to win tournament cups. Points are awarded based on where you place in the races and the person with the most points wins the tournament.

Multiplayer mode allows you to play against other people in the room with you on the Nintendo Wii, but the Nintendo DS version allows you to play with up to 6 players via multi-card play.

In both versions of the game, players must attempt to knock out opponents with “car fu” moves in order to stay ahead of the race. While these barrel rolls and 360 spins were pretty easy to pull off in the DS version, I found myself losing a lot of races, if I tried any moves on the Nintendo Wii version. Driving was very easy in the both games, which surprised me in the Wii version, because I figured holding the Wii remote sideways and tipping it back and forth would be way too hard to control the car with. I managed to run smoothly through the tracks with ease and I didn’t even need my car fu moves to win most of the races.

Graphics were pretty stellar on both games. The Speed Racer movie had bright, neon environments that transferred wonderfully into a videogame design. The track were well laid out and somewhat reminded me of the old F-Zero franchise with its crazy twists and turns. I really wish the developers had gotten the rights to some clips from the movie though for the Wii version, because I think they would have made the game better than the 2D pictures.

The audio for environments and sound effects were good, but the voice-overs were a little flat. For trained actors, Christina and Emile could have much done better with the one liners and truthfully I didn’t even think it was the real actors until I saw their names in the manual.

I’ve played a lot of movie videogames in the past and as far as Speed Racer goes I would have liked to see more tracks to race on, but over all, this is actually a pretty decent game. Fans of the movie will enjoy hitting the track and pulling off some sweet car fu moves and families will really enjoy the multi-player modes on either versions of the game.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Buy it!

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