Beetle Adventure Racing Review

For Nintendo 64

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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