IGN Review of Wacky Races: Crash & Dash
Remember Wacky Races, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the late '60s that featured a bunch of, uh, wacky racers competing in road rallies? No? Yeah, I don't either, making this a strange license to bring to the young-skewing Nintendo DS audience. I would assume most DS owners would rather have a Ben 10 or Hannah Montana licensed racer. But that's okay, because the developers have crafted a fun, engaging racing game that isn't just another ho-hum cash-in on an existing property, right?
Wrong. Wacky Racers is about as shallow as they come. Players steer their vehicle with the stylus, like Link was controlled in Phantom Hourglass. Speed is supposedly determined by how far the stylus is from the car, but experimenting with different lengths produces little to no result. Power-ups are collected along the way, of which two can be held at a time. Your goal is to be first across the finish line in a series of arcade competitions.
If the controls weren't already simple enough, some power-ups put your vehicle into auto-pilot and all you have to do is attack your opponents by tapping the touch screen. The last leg of each race also lets auto-pilot take over, and players make a "mad dash" for the finish line by blowing into the DS microphone and furiously scratching the touch screen -- an indignity no human being should ever be put through.
There are 11 racers in the game but only 10 are playable -- the 11th is our villain, Dick Dastardly. The other 10 are available from the beginning. All the player can look forward to unlocking are additional tracks to race on. There are four categories of power-ups, and each racer has a unique widget for each category. An announcer calls the action as a race unfolds, but while he gives a good performance you'll be hearing the same lines over and over again.
Shallow gameplay is not Wacky Races' worst offense. There is also an incredibly annoying "feature" that throws unavoidable traps at the player during each race. These stop the action and present us with a cut scene showing Dick Dastardly putting some obstacle in our way. Then we have to play an insipid mini-game in order to get back to the race. Dick might send mosquitoes after us and we have to "swat" them with the stylus. Or we might have to drag our car left and right on a 2D plane to dodge falling boulders. If we win the mini-game we'll receive a boost in the race. Fail, and we'll fall behind. This unwelcome addition to the game mechanics keeps the player from getting a sense of the race and ends up being an incredible nuisance.
Curiously, no screenshots are included on the game box. Wacky Races actually doesn't look that bad, sporting very clean visuals that closely resemble the cartoon it's based on. The animated cut scenes, although disruptive to gameplay, are produced well.
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