Wacky Races: Crash & Dash
Driving on eEmpty
In all of my years as a gamer, I honestly don't think I've come across a game that didn't want me to play it as badly as Wacky Races: Crash & Dash.
- You can turn the announcer off, colourful, all of the characters from the cartoon are present
- Palette-swapped courses, repetitive music, no actual racing (but plenty of crashing and some slight dashing)
With 24 different courses to race on, from See-Saw to Arkansas to the Mish Mash Missouri Dash, the landscapes are at least colourful enough to keep children entertained, and with the title's overly-simplistic controls, the target audience of youngsters should have no trouble picking up the gist of the racer. Just don't expect any depth if you pick this title up... and don't be surprised when your kid asks if he can trade it in for another game.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Driving on empty
Before I jump onto my soapbox, let's take a step back and examine the situation: Based off of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name, Wacky Races: Crash & Dash attempts to re-capture the fun-natured zaniness of the seventies show by letting you choose one of 20 racers — from Penelope Pitstop to the Ant Hill Mob — and try to speed past that chequered flag in first by any means necessary. On paper, this sounds like a great concept, and grounds for a fun game. In execution, it ranges from as painful as listening to a Fran Drescher laugh-a-thon to as boring as attempting an Ayn Rand novel after a mug of Tylenol PM. While these are two very extreme ranges that I frighten myself by alluding to, Wacky Races manages to touch on both points without even trying.
The "pain" aspect comes from trying to "play" the game... because, really, you can't. This is a racing game with no acceleration and no brake controls, so your car is constantly moving at its own speed as your on-screen avatar simply tries to keep up with the roaming overhead camera. In last place? Expect to slide off the screen and respawn any second. Just took first? The camera's not there yet, so expect to crash into oncoming scenery that hasn't been revealed. Even if you do finally find a comfort zone somewhere in the cluster of cars, or just when you think you've gotten the hang of manoeuvring the Bulletproof Bomb through a forest of plywood trees, you're quite literally interrupted by a mini-game: "Never mind that-it looks like that double zero duo is up to something!" our pun-tastic announcer shouts, cutting the race away to a short animation of the sinister Dick Dastardly and his snickering dog Muttley setting a trap for the Racers. Here, we cue one of eight mini-games that almost all involve waggling your Wii remote until the game decides you've had enough, and thrusts you back into the action. Keep in mind that this happens twice in every race.
Wacky Races: racing optional
Now, here's where the "boring" aspect comes in: you know that old saying, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose-it's how you play the game"? In Wacky Racers, it doesn't matter if you play the game in order to win or lose. Since the cars are constantly moving of their own accord, on numerous occasions I simply set my controller down and watched the vehicles aimlessly crash (and/or dash) into each other. Once, I even left the room, fixed a cup of coffee, came back and discovered that not only was I still racing — I was in the lead. This is where I feel Wacky Races seems to generate an air of smug arrogance, as if it's having so much fun playing by itself that when you, the player, actually want to take control of your vehicle, the game reacts as if you're just cramping its style and with a heavy sigh, begrudgingly allows you to steer. Having fun yet?
Still, for all of its flaws, I can't help but applaud Eidos for trying something different, as Wacky Races could have easily turned out as another Mario Kart knock-off in an instant.
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