Beetle Adventure Racing

January 23rd, 2008 by J. Spiffyman


Now, before I begin, let me just say this: I’m no big fan of racing games. I’m not a big fan of the redesign of the Volkswagen Beetle, either. Yet for some inexplicable reason, when the two are combined, I can’t stay away from it. This game boats innovative courses with tons of freedom, solid multiplayer, and plenty of interesting extras. And you just can’t deny the power of the VW Bug.

Compared to other racing games I’ve played, Beetle Adventure Racing (BAR) doesn’t have a whole lot of courses: only six. But these six courses are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Each race sends you driving through a unique and dynamic area, based around the name of the course. “Coventry Cove” contains a calm drive through a European town and the surrounding countryside, while “Mount Mayhem” winds through a snowy alpine area that’ll have you passing by a ski resort, oil pipeline, and even a crashed UFO! All six courses are just jam-packed with tons of content, and it’s a real shame that you won’t have time to stop and smell the flowers as you cruise by at over 100 miles per hour. Don’t forget the immense freedom of exploration you have, either. No matter what track you’re driving on, there’s dozens of alternate routes and shortcuts to take, and while not all will actually save you time, it makes for an amazingly open game.

But enough about the details, how is the racing? You can practice your racing skills in a single race against either a full grid of 8 cars, a single rival, or just the clock. The championship mode has you race multiple tracks in a row against a full set of CPU drivers, keeping track of your cumulative score based on how you finish. Completing the championship modes will unlock better cars and new tracks. An interesting addition to your normal racing game is point boxes. These numbered boxes give you points when you drive through them, and you’ll need all you can get if you want to earn extra continues or unlock the battle mode stages (more on that later).

Races can range from easy to insanely difficult, mostly based on what mode you’re playing. The tracks themselves aren’t the problem (though the last two tracks are very twisty), but rather the CPU cars. Even though CPUs will never take shortcuts and will slow down to almost nothing rather than hit a wall, they make up for it with intelligent driving and unfairly superior cars. Unless you go back and use your unlocked cars on the easier championship circuits (not a bad idea if you’re unlocking secrets), the computer cars will always have better turning, acceleration, and top speed than you, even when you unlock the last and best vehicle. This doesn’t get to get a big problem until professional difficulty, where a high-speed car will actually hinder you on the quick turns, because the computers make no mistakes with the same high speeds. Still, they aren’t invincible, and the challenge isn’t so unfair you’ll be throwing the game out the window.

And what is a game without extras? BAR includes a solid multiplayer mode, with up to 4 players racing simultaneously. There’s over a dozen of unlockable cheats in the game as well, activated by running into well-hidden cheat boxes in the championship modes. And in an unexpected twist, this game even has a battle mode! You race around a small arena collecting 6 different colored “bugs”, which are actually ladybug icons. Of course, you’ve got a handful of weapons you can use to hinder your opponent, ranging from missiles and bombs to weird attacks that mess with the other player’s screen! You start with three arenas, and can unlock six more with effort. All the arenas are well-designed and make for an enjoyable and interesting experience.

Whether or not you like racing games or not, I’ve found that Beetle Adventure Racing seems to be one of those games that is the acception to the rule. It’s got fun and interesting courses mixed with just a little quirkiness, and just seems to have something for everyone of all skill levels. So try it out, have some fun, and stop wondering if Herbie the Love Bug is in it, because he’s not.


Screenshots* (click the thumbnails for a larger version):

beetle.jpg beetleadventureracing.jpg

Buy from : Beetle Adventure Racing
Buy from : Beetle Adventure Racing

Posted in Nintendo 64

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