Reviewed by Bryan Bagley
Cruis'n USA was created originally by game designing legend Eugene
Jarvis, who also designed classic games like Defender and Robotron.
Cruis'n, which came out near the end of 1994, was a hit in the
arcades, won industry awards, and still takes in a lot of quarters.
Despite this knowledge, and with all respect to Jarvis, Cruis'n' USA
for Nintendo 64 is a game that fails to deliver the slightest bit of
fun. A straight port, Cruis'n feels like it was rushed; Why would a
two-year old arcade game come to the Nintendo 64 and look the same, and
play even worse? Well, despite the cool abilities to change music
and other options, earn different cars by performing well, and race
across the same U.S. courses as in the arcade, the game falls flat on
the Nintendo 64. Why? Look at the amazing graphic effects on the Nintendo
64, and then look at game -- it's not an improvement over the arcade version.
Second, look at what it is (currently) up against -- possibly the
greatest racing game ever -- Wave Race 64. Wave Race blows Cruis'n
away in every single way: playability, graphics, speed, sound effects,
replay value, originality, music, etc., etc.Technically, the game runs
at a completely unacceptable frame rate given the lack of geometry
actually needed for its combination of scaled sprites and simple car
shapes. With the exception of the drivers' seat perspective, which
conveys immediacy and the rush of oncoming traffic, the feeling of
speed simply isn't apparent when playing the game, and it is even
further diminished when playing two-player split-screen. We would
prefer to play a direct port of OutRun on the Nintendo 64 than this.
Music is enough to drive one crazy. It ranges from a completely poorly
composed country twang, to a somewhat more appropriate, yet still poorly
composed light techno (there are four more annoying songs). Clearly,
the musicians working on this project were not used to being limited
to the voices of general MIDI. For a far better example of how such
compositions should be done, listen to Star Wars: Shadows of the
Empire's music which is infinitely better. The game does take advantage
of the analog control, but it is exceedingly touchy. As in the arcade
version, the cars are extremely loose, and with just the slightest
touch, you're on the other side of the street. This takes some getting
used to, but it's the way Cruis'n plays, and with a little practice, players
will get the hang of it. But, the incredibly poor and cheap collision detection,
which seems to exist far outside the normal perimeter of the car, does
little to add to the fun factor. cars' general physics are still intact, and
the feel of driving a Cruis'n car -- the pull and lurch of the shocks and
brakes, unique to this game -- is perfectly ported. And, of course, the
full range of selectable cars (including secret cars) are chooseable. The
game does take advantage of the analog control, but it is exceedingly
touchy. As in the arcade version, the cars are extremely loose, and with
just the slightest touch, you're on the other side of the street. This takes
some getting used to, but it's the way Cruis'n plays, and with a little practice,
players will get the hang of it. But, the incredibly poor and cheap collision
detection, which seems to exist far outside the normal perimeter of the car,
does little to add to the fun factor. cars' general physics are still intact,
and the feel of driving a Cruis'n car -- the pull and lurch of the shocks and
brakes, unique to this game -- is perfectly ported. And, of course, the full
range of selectable cars (including secret cars) are chooseable.
Graphics 4 out of 10
They're functional at best. The frame rate is so-so, the cars are so-so,
and the backgrounds are just plain sad. Everything looks extremely
two-dimensional, to the point that when you run over a anything it just
fallsdown as if it were a cardboard prop. There is pop-up, and although it's
not as bad as, say, Daytona for the Saturn, it's... well... let's say it's unique.
Midway tried to achieve some sort of fog effects to diminish the level of
draw-in. What they got looks nothing like fog by any stretch of the
imagination. The background still appears suddenly, but rather than just
"popping" in, it fades in. The result is that it looks as if Scotty is beaming
down the scenery from the Starship Enterprise. It's comical at first, then
it's just plain sad. The only aspect of this game that even looks good, much
less 64-bit, is the intro, when a car drives through the title screen,
shattering it (the screen). It's all downhill from there, kiddies.
Sounds 2 out of 10
AAAAACCCCCKKKK!!!! If I have to listen to that HORRENDOUS music one
more time... The sound effects are whinny and flat, but as compared to the
background music, they're phenomenal. The tunes are some twisted form
of country-techno that is one step up from elevator music in quality, and
one step down from Barney the Dino in annoyance factor. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Game Play 4 out of 10
The ability to adjust the sensitivity of the analog stick would have
been a wonderful feature, had there been a setting that was actually any
good. As it stands, control varies between hyper-sensitive and sluggish,
with nothing in the middle to satisfy. To add to the pain, there is no, I
repeat, NO sense of speed in this game. I think if they had written the code
to let you pop open the hood, you would be able to see the little polygonal
hamster powering your car. I'm serious, if you stuck these cars in the real
world, they would get passed by people on crutches. One final note - for some
reason, Midway programmed the oncoming traffic such that everyone likes
playing chicken. I was driving along on the right side of the road with no other
cars visible, and all of a sudden someone going the opposite direction just
swerved into me, and caused me to crash. This wasn't an isolated incident,
either. It was as if the lead car put a hit out on me. At first, this was
amusing, but after being constantly pelted by Buicks, my sense of humor tends
to wither. To sum up the control in a word: bad.
Replay 3 out of 10
This score could be misleading, because anyone who could get by the bad
sounds, graphics, and controls would probably find a high level of replay
value. However, the rest of us are not likely to want to play this game more
than once. I did only so I would have enough material to write this review.
This one isn't even worth renting.
Overall 3 out of 10
You could do a lot better than this game. If you want a racer, get Wave Race.
This game has no business being on the market, and we need to send Nintendo
and Midway the message that this kind of tripe just doesn't cut it.