Cruis 'n World
Reviewed by Raymond Almeda
For years, the Cruis'n series has utterly confounded videogame critics
(who are admittedly an easily confoundable bunch). Despite generally
mediocre reviews, Cruis'n USA was a huge bestseller for the N64. Of
course, it probably didn't hurt sales that Cruis'n USA was released
during the Great N64 Game Shortage of 1996.
Cruis'n World is the sequel to that highly successful title. By any means
an excellent translation of its arcade cousin, Cruis'n World nevertheless
probably won't win over any critics. But the game is certain to please
fans of the Cruis'n series (and you know who you are).
Cruis'n World is in many ways the archetypal arcade racer. Gameplay is
mind- numbingly simple, and that simplicity is probably the core
explanation for its appeal. After choosing one's vehicle (which cannot be
customized) from assorted possible cars, players race in one of 14
different global tracks.
The cars are mostly straightforward, with the occasional oddball (ie. a
British doubledecker bus) thrown into the mix.
Naturally, the tracks of Cruis'n World are set in different parts of the
world: Japan, Germany, Kenya, Hawaii, etc. But don't expect any San
Francisco Rush style replication of real-life roadways. Other than
changing scenery, there's no real difference between these tracks.
Many of the tracks include a few architechtural absurdities, like a giant
underwater glass tunnel. But like much of the game, these absurdities are
simply not original or impressive enough to warrant long term attention.
The racing action is about as simple as racing action gets. You accelerate.
You steer left and right. If you really want to get complicated, you
can honk the horn. That's about it.
While navigating the assorted tracks of Cruis'n World, gamers will race
against a variety of other cars. The ultimate goal becomes simply to
accelerate while avoiding collisions with the other cars (kind of like
my daily commute routine).
But if you do happen to smash into another vehicle head-on doing 150 mph,
the worst that can happen is that your car will tumble about the screen
and you will waste precious time. There are no explosions in Cruis'n
World, and the cars do not even retain damage; it's just not that kind of game.
The graphics in Cruis'n World are crisp and closely resemble their arcade
counterpart. Unfortunately, the engine is dated and plagued by excessive
graphic pop-in. Entire buildings magically appear in front of your eyes.
It's annoying, and evidence of a gameplay engine that is none too advanced.
On the plus side, control is precise and intuitive. Cruis'n World nicely takes
advantage of the analog joystick for smooth control. And the horn button
Audio is fairly unremarkable, although there is a decent selection of
catchy musical tunes. None of the songs are nearly as maddening as
the classic cuts from San Francisco Rush.
In a sad testimony to political correctness, elements of Cruis'n World
have been toned down for the N64 version. The most notable change
concerns what we'll call the roadkill feature. Certain tracks in Cruis'n
World are populated with animals. The Australian track, for example,
has kangaroos scampering about. In the arcade version, it's possible to
plow one's car Carmaggeddon- style right through the furry little
critters. Of course, it's nasty and unnecessary, and that's what makes
it fun. And it adds an offbeat dose of personality to an otherwise bland game.
Another victim of Nintendo PC bluenoses are the bikini-clad babes who
greet you at the end of every race. Oh, the babes are still here, but they
are joined by a couple of bathing suit clad guys. I guess this was the
creative compromise they made.
There have been a few positive changes made to the N64 version, and
these mostly concern multiplay. Cruis'n World allows from two to four-players
to compete in split screen multiplay action. Unfortunately, this does not
add as much life to the title as one might expect. After all, this game isn't
exactly Mario Kart.
Here's my theory regarding the popularity of Cruis'n World. Appropriately,
it relates to Deer Hunter. The runaway success of that low-tech PC title
shocked the 'cultural elite' of the gaming industry. By catering to good
folks who shop at Wal-Mart, the deer hunting sim was a huge bestseller.
Now, it's probably no coincidence that many Wal-Marts contain a Cruis'n
World arcade machine in their entranceway. Wal- Mart shoppers already
familiar with Cruis'n World will be likely to pick up a copy of the N64 game.
Cruis'n World is exactly the kind of game you might want to play in an arcade,
or in a Wal-Mart. It is easy to learn and play, and delivers an experience well
worth a quarter. But the title is otherwise unremarkable, and its simplistic
gameplay and mediocre graphical engine quickly grow tiresome. It's well
worth renting, but there are many other N64 racing games that make better
Graphics 73 out of 100
Music and Sound 81 out of 100
Game Challenge 75 out of 100
Game Play-Fun 61 out of 100
Rumble Pak 67 out of 100
Replayability 34 out of 100
Game Value 25 out of 100
Overall 57.5 out of 100