By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne Rating: Awesome At first glance, Beetle Adventure Racing (BAR) may seem like an average racing game with Nintendo's own touch of cuteness sprinkled here and there. I honestly thought it was going to suck. On the contrary, BAR proves that itís not just another Crusiní USA mutation, and it dishes out some surprisingly fun gameplay in the process. Beetle Adventure Racingís biggest advantage over other racing games is its tracks. Sure, there are only six, but you havenít seen tracks this big since... well, youíve never seen tracks this big. Nor have you made jumps this big in a racing game, not even in San Francisco Rush. One may think that this would be annoying because it would take forever to run one lap. Think again, pessimistic gamers. Scattered throughout the huge tracks and their interactive landscapes more secrets and hidden pathways that you can shake a stick at. Top it all off with high frame rates and very little polygon pop-in and youíve got yourself the foundation of a great game. One reason why Beetle Adventure Racing turned out to be so surprisingly fun is because it avoided the mistakes that other racing games have made. For instance, itís a rare occasion when you donít see high level of fog in an average N64 racing game these days. Lo and behold, Beetle Adventure Racing doesnít have a single molecule of fog on some tracks. Now instead of squinting your eyes to see ten feet in front of your car, you can enjoy the marvelous landscapes that the developers furnished for your enjoyment. Another thing I noticed about BAR was that the developers seemed cut out all the fluff and make an outrageous racer, all the while making it fun, challenging, and expandable (with secrets to be unlocked) so you keep coming back for more. This is what a lot of racers fail to do. One that comes to mind is Gran Turismo. Sure, Gran Turismo broke boundaries, had lots of cars, yadda yadda yadda, but at times it seemed to me that the developers were more concerned with pumping out car models than they were with ensuring that the game was loads of fun. Fortunately, since Beetle Adventure Racing only has one car (the VW Beetle), it never loses focus and stays fun throughout. Control in Beetle Adventure Racing is a dream. In San Francisco Rush, jumps were a nightmare because it was pure luck if you landed where you wanted to land. In BAR, the control is much more tight and for once you feel like youíre really in control of your car. This is great because without the outstanding control the player wouldnít be able to reach the game's well-hidden secrets. Also, you need to make some pretty quick turning decisions in BAR and thankfully theyíre a breeze to pull off. Usually in racing games, the multi-player modes are leaps and bounds above the single player mode in terms of fun. This didnít seem to be the case with Beetle Adventure Racing. One such mode is called "Beetle Battle" in which you and your opponents race around giant arenas looking for six beetle designs. Secret cars can be unlocked by collecting these beetles and you get cool weapons (much like in Twisted Metal) to do away with your opponents, but the fact is itís not nearly as fun as the single player mode. I found myself using the radar more than anything else because the multi-player maps are too large for their own good and so you don't encounter your opponents nearly as often as you should (just think Turok 2 multi-player, but with cars). All all in all itís a nice addition that makes this awesome game even better, but it's still not as fun as the single-player mode. Not only is this an excellent racing game, but it's one of the best Nintendo 64 games I've played in a long time (although admittedly, that's not saying a whole lot). If youíre sick and tired of playing the dozens of run-of-the-mill racing games available on the N64, then listen carefully: You need to play Beetle Adventure Racing.
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