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Crash Racing

For: Mobile

Crashes and burns

Product: Crash Racing | Developer: Kaolink | Publisher: Vivendi Games Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Conversion, Racing | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 297KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
Crash Racing Mobile, thumbnail 1
Automobile magnate Henry Ford once commissioned a team of engineers to scour America's scrapyards and identify the most reliable part of a Model T Ford. Eventually, the engineers reported their findings: every part of the Model T was beyond use after a few years except for the 'kingpin,' which always long survived its fellow components.

When asked how he wanted to act on this information, Henry stroked his chin for a moment before issuing his infamous instruction: make shoddier kingpins.

It must be something about cars, because with Crash Racing Kaolink has demonstrated the same attitude towards business as Henry Ford: never put in more effort than you absolutely have to. If we at Pocket Gamer felt the same way, you wouldn't be reading these words. You'd be reading our Cocoto Kart Racer review, with the names changed.

Nevertheless. Starring Crash Bandicoot and his friends Dr Cortex, Nina Cortex, and Pasadena, Crash is a go-kart game in the style of Mario Kart in which the goal is to complete three laps of a circuit littered with power-ups and decorated with outlandish scenery.

There are two modes of play: Single Race and Tournament, with the courses in the former only becoming available once you're completed the latter. If you think the necessity to unlock levels is frustrating, however, relax. Unless your thumbs are broken, you should have no difficulty polishing off the Tournament mode in half an hour or so, unlocking every track you might care to race.

There are nine such tracks in total, split evenly across three surreal, cartoonish worlds: Pirate, Castle, and Egypt. The only sense in which the tracks differ is in their appearance – the handling, width, and general difficulty are uniform.

As you reach the last of the nine tracks, the difficulty is ramped up by increasingly tough opposition, and as with all go-kart games success depends partly on your manipulation of the power-ups. Of the four in Crash, speed boost probably means the most, with the rocket a close second. Invincibility is too fleeting to really help, and the mine is only as likely to importune an opponent as it is to floor you on the next lap.

The inclusion of such power-ups in a racing game is always a risky move. For it to work – that is, for the sudden appearance of missiles and rockets to be remotely palatable for the people trying to win the race – they need to redress inequalities of skill or fortune, favouring the meek, disadvantaging the strong, and generally levelling the field so that the tension of a close race is constantly present.

In Crash, these elements are random, and the pleasure of firing a rocket never makes up for the annoyance of crashing into traps or having a rocket thunder up your own tailpipe.

There are also chevrons on the road that you can drive across to receive a speed boost, and we can't help but feel that Crash would have been more satisfying had Kaolink left it at that rather than bung in some obligatory, gallingly obstructive gimmicks.

Although each of the four players you can choose from has the same characteristics, the cars that you receive after the first and second worlds differ in their speed, handling, and acceleration. In principle, the means that you can choose a car that more or less suits your driving style. However, the handling is so lurching and erratic that you're unlikely to appreciate the difference.

We suggested that Crash is fundamentally identical to Cocoto. If you've done your research, however, you'll know that Crash has scored two less. The subtraction is easily explained: Crash just isn't as good. The speed boost chevrons aren't as interesting as Cocoto's floating speed rings, there are no permanent obstacles to avoid, and an odd glitch sometimes rams you into the barrier and disables your steering.

In other words, Crash is Cocoto, but with a shoddier kingpin.
Crash Racing
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 1 August 2006
Although not offensive in terms of gameplay, Crash manages to offend nevertheless by being lazy, brief, and all but identical to Cocoto Kart Racer
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