Sega's Crazy Taxi
would have seemed to be the perfect handheld game -- it's wicked fast, it's absolutely bonkers gameplay, it plays in short, pick-up-and-play intervals, and it's addictive as anything. Unfortunately, two tries to bring that type of gameplay to the GBA -- one boy Sega and one with the Simpsons license -- were as rough an approximation of the original as you can get. Luckily, we're getting another pass at it from Destination Software and Raylight in their take of the Namco arcade rush, Smashing Drive
Smashing Drive, for those who missed it, was an arcade rush through the streets of a futuristic New York City. Blast through Little Italy, Wall Street and other areas of the Big Apple, crunching traffic and popping air all in your rush to get passengers to their destinations on time. The GBA version includes all of the power-ups of the original, and promises that the wild shortcuts and insane air will not be forgotten along the trip to becoming a Game Boy Advance game. The GBA edition also boasts two-player head-to-head play by Link Cable (wireless support, unfortunately, seems as likely as getting a ride out to Queens) and features Arcade and Survival gameplay modes.
Raylight was one of the first studios to do 3D on the system, and have had the most time to experiment and build on their engine, and the specs for the GBA version of Smashing Drive show how much tech they have amassed over that time. Smashing Drive smacks up the GBA with full 3D for both the environments and the cars -- a first for this kind of high-speed racing game. If enough processing power is left over for the physics toolset, this could push Smashing Drive ahead of other wild racers for the system that use sprites for the vehicles. The arcade original (and Xbox and GameCube ports) had a more linear structure than Sega's free-roaming game, so that should also bode well in creating a game that retains the high-speed thrills of the original without getting as bogged down in the technology as previous GBA attempts at arcade racing. Full 3D gives the game more than just visual pizzazz -- Raylight is doing a damage modeling on your car, so as you careen through the NYC streets and smash into other polygonal drivers, your cab will be put through the ringer.
Destination hasn't released info as to when to expect its slate of Namco games -- which also include I-Ninja, Dead to Rights, Kill.Switch and a few Pac-Man titles -- but we're hoping to see more of all of these games in the near future. Developer Raylight is still looking for the game that establishes its BlueRoses 3D engine and its own company name -- Wing Commander was strong, but the company's other titles were clearly rushed to market -- so hopefully Smashing Drive is given the time to fuel up before it is released. Look for full impressions of how this ride runs as the game nears release.
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