IGN Review of Homie Rollerz
Homie Rollerz for the Nintendo DS was initially intended for release back in November. Destineer has been pushing the Webfoot-developed kart racer back for months, but the wait is finally over. We've got Homie Rollerz in our possession and, after playing the first game based on the popular collectibles, we're wondering why Destineer didn't delay the game for a little while longer. Say, maybe indefinitely.
"Homies" is a series of collectible figurines commonly found in capsule machines at Wal-Mart. Each figurine is their own little Hispanic stereotype. Dave Gonzales, the creator of the series, got in trouble by the Los Angeles Police Department for promoting gang life, so now all the Homies have positive messages in their bios. Those positive messages are "exemplified" by the officially licensed YouTube videos showing the Homies performing lewd sexual acts in public, using racial slurs, and picking up prostitutes. That's good, wholesome family fun right there, ese.
Homie Rollerz features ten of the more popular Homies characters. There's Big Loco, an "ex-gangster" turned youth counselor that doesn't wear a shirt (what better way to show the troubled youth your tattoos and muscles you earned in prison?). Gata represents the chicas in the Homies line as the only girl to not be a complete slut. Most of the characters are either offensive or ridiculous, from Willie G the paraplegic vato, to El Chilote the talking chili pepper.
The main racing mode in the game is the Wizard Circuit. Wizard is an old homeless man that claims he can grant wishes. The Homies believe this without question and each enter the competition. I guess in the Barrio it's commonplace for members of ZZ Top to sponsor illegal street races and grant wishes.
Now, a kart racer done correctly is still a derivative, uninspired title that offers nothing new for the consumer. Homie Rollerz however doesn't manage to get even the basics right.
First off, Homie Rollerz is a ridiculous level of difficult. To progress through the story mode requires a first place finish in each race, but it takes practice just to get out of eighth place. It's not that the game has a hard learning curve, it's just poorly designed. The AI opponents race off at top speed, and never seem affected by the various obstacles in each course. Even after spending hours playing the game and upgrading our vehicle, it is still nearly impossible to beat.
And alone is reason enough to skip the game. The developers didn't bother to make sure kids could actually make progress in the game. While technically the game is functional, the very fact that its poor design inhibits any mijos from playing the game render it useless. It's not just the computer players that are at fault, either. Everything about the game is terrible.
The cars control with less precision than a shopping cart with three missing wheels. Every turn shifts the entire camera, and it feels more like we're controlling the environment than the actual car. There's absolutely no sense of speed. Even when we hit the boost squares the game crawls along. And since there isn't a speedometer, it makes the experience that much more frustrating when the other cars go zooming by.
The levels are completely mismatched in terms of style and difficulty. Some levels, like the Homieclown Circus and Homie Beach, are relatively easy to beat once players master the poor controls and have their car sufficiently upgraded. But courses like the Aztec Temple and Haunted House are clunky and poorly laid out. Blind turns and cheap obstacles make many of the tracks too hazardous to have a race in. It's not fun to constantly spin out and bump into walls, but in Homie Rollerz that's most of the game.
And while it doesn't affect the difficulty of the game, the whole thing looks atrocious. It seems like the developers couldn't figure out whether they wanted the Homies to be life sized or pint sized because the dimensions change. They'll be racing in normally proportioned city streets, only to go to the sewers and race by giant barrels. Textures are few and far between, so everything just bleeds together into a bland mess.
It's hard to stress just how infuriating this game is, which is why we made use of Homie Rollerz single card multiplayer. Up to seven other friends can latch on to the player's DS and compete in a race. Between downloading the demo, and loading the levels, it's multiple minutes before the race even starts. If the player is hosting a game with only a couple friends, they can all be frustrated as the AI racers completely trounce them without ever giving them a chance.
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