[youtube id=”Tt2_QWoDIak” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Street Racer is still no Mario Kart, but is much better than it has any right to be – just make sure you give it sufficient time to impress. ~Simon Reed
I’m not sure how I haven’t yet revisited Street Racer, as it seems a perfect for this blog. A game that’s slightly obscure and been forgotten by many, but still has elements that means it’s worthy of re-appraisal.
A Mario Kart style racer developed by Ubi Soft, Street Racer could easily be dismissed as a lesser imitation during your opening minutes of playtime.
Despite a rocking opening music track for the main menu and some solid if uninspiring looking cartoon characters to choose from – such as Frank (Frankenstein), what looks like a gold prospector and a beach babe – you’ll struggle to get to get to grips with the actual racing itself.
The game uses Mode 7 (at least it sure looks like it does) to a near nauseating degree, and tracks spin and warp quite badly.
This makes the simple task of seeing what’s coming up ahead much tougher than it should be. It looks good in stills (see above) but the game is no picnic when in full flow.
What makes things worse is that the fairly loose handling takes a fair while to get used to. You need to slow down regularly here – odd for a cartoon karting game – to get anywhere fast (pun intended).
Especially when you consider that you can’t really make out walls due to the Mode 7 graphics until the very last moment.
Added to the initial malaise of annoyance is the unclear power up/weapons system.
There are no pick up weapons in Street Racer, only turbo boosts (used with Y). Attacks, in the form of your racer punching, are done with the L and R buttons, which allow you to punch to the left and right respectively. X makes you perform a short jump.
If you can cope with these problems/oddities though – and it’s a big if – the game does get better the more you play it.
The more open tracks, such as a beach level, are easy enough to negotiate around for example, and you suddenly get the extra confidence to be able to weave your way through the pack – which you possibly didn’t feel like you could do before.
Better still, the game boasts some rather unique little features.
One is that after each race extra points are awarded to the racer who gets the fastest individual lap time, punches the most opponents and collects the most stars scattered around the track.
This is a neat little touch, and adds another welcome layer of depth to races. It can mean you can finish fourth but still accumulate a healthy number of points.
The other interesting part of the game is the inclusion of two multiplayer modes (they can be played in single player if you must) alongside the regular races.
One is a ‘Rumble’ mode, which has you trying to knock/punch off your fellow racers off a small arena. Depending on the difficulty setting you have buffers around the arena that slowly deteriorate when they’re hit.
It’s a little messy, especially with no real weapons to speak of, but still fun.
What’s even more chaotic is the ‘Soccer’ option though.
It has eight racers on one small pitch all attempting to take a football and thwack it into the one goal. The goal has a pong-esque paddle as a goalkeeper, and it’s as ridiculous to play as it sounds.
Despite it’s problems – it can take you minutes at a time to get the ball – it’s a brave experiment and one, against all odds, that’s still playable today.
In conclusion, Street Racer is still no Mario Kart, but is much better than it has any right to be – just make sure you give it sufficient time to impress.