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atari mania
Written by  :  MagFram (43)
Written on  :  May 03, 2005
Platform  :  Dreamcast
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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An underrated gem -- in my top 3 Funnest, Most Playable DC Games

The Good

1. Everything about this game puts you directly in the cartoon, from the sounds to the characters to the weapons to the karts. This was a kart-racer designed for both cartoon fans and video karting fans. (Hence, I found it enjoyable on both counts.)

2a. The token system, wherein the use of a weapon is dictated by how many tokens you have and how many tokens each weapon costs to use, is a really neat way of making the game more fun. In many karters, the weapons are randomized--you run into a box or over a panel and wait to see what the CPU sticks you with. In Wacky Races, so long as you collect tokens from around the track, you can use whatever you like. If you like Penelope's hair dryer boost and nothing else, you can use that boost all the time and ignore everything else. This makes it fun for people who are more into the cartoon than the video game--they can play along to collect tokens and spend 'em on the weapons that give the biggest weapons.

2b. The other cool feature about the token system is that the tokens are recycled: when you use a weapon and spend tokens, instead of those tokens disappearing, your spent tokens are tossed back onto the track. The token system is cool all around, and I'm really surprised it hasn't caught on in other karting series.

3. I know this ties in with #1, but the attention to detail in the maps, karts, weapons, and characters is so freakin' cool. It's fun just to replay races and listen to the SFX.

4. Arkansas Chugga-Bug

5. Muttley's laugh.

The Bad

1. The previous reviewer's comment about the difficulty is warranted. The game asks a lot of the player to unlock features that probably should have been available from the get-go. One of the "Boss Races" to beat Dastardly is damn-near impossible--it took me a full three hours of attempts to beat him one night, and as somebody who really enjoys karters and has gotten good at them, I was effin' PO'ed. So the game can be ridiculously frustrating in brief, very limited moments.

2. #1 being said (which will make this point sound silly), after a few go-rounds with the game, I found it to be pretty easy. The "speed" of the game isn't too taxing--it's got more of a put-put feel than it does nitrous-oxide feel. While I think the speed should be exactly the way it is to preserve the cartoon feel, the slower speed does make the game easier for people with video karting experience. Plus, with the AI being non-rubber bandish, you can get way out front and stay there once you get the hang of the game. This cuts back on the single player replay value.

3. This point is the cold side to the hot side from what I liked about the token system: if you happen to get way out front, one of the drawbacks of the token system is that it leaves GOBS of spent tokens on the track for the kart way in front. The pack spends them beating up on each other, and when you've got a half-lap lead and come back to their battlefield, you can fill up on tokens and burst to increase your lead. It's not fair, really.

4a. The announcer got old. I turned him off pretty early into the game. This is a lame criticism, as you can turn him off. Just pointing it out.

4b. Either needs more tracks or needs the existing tracks to be more variable. Again, this is a minor complaint, though more valid than #4a.

The Bottom Line

Some people make the mistake of treating this a novelty karter that is only interesting to fans of Wacky Races. The truth is that this game pulls off quite a feat: it manages to interest cartoon/Wacky Races fans in video karting, and it entertains karters by completely immersing them in Wacky Races. So long as you like cartoons or like karters, you will dig this game.

I played the hell out of it, and I had lots of other supposed DC classics to waste my gaming time on. Wacky Races was in my top 3 most played games along with Jet Grind Radio and Power Stone 2. Despite my gripes about the relative ease of karting in this game, I just couldn't stop going back to it because, like JGR and PS2, it's unadulterated FUN.

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