Crash Car Racer (Wii)

YES! A budget racer on Wii, if there’s one genre I know well, it’s this one! I jumped for joy when I saw this game in Kmart, possibly scaring the lady at the counter. There was no sign of Zelda, Xenoblade, or The Last Story on the shelves, but sure enough: 20 copies of Crash Car Racer! It has to be good, right? At $15AU I had to find out.

The name Crash Car Racer does a pretty good job telling you what it is: a racing game with cars that crash. However, it’s not really ABOUT crashing, it’s just a normal racing game that happens to have completely broken physics, conducive to crashes. The disconnected car handling, poorly programmed AI, and bizarre tracks all combine to create a game that pretty much crashes itself every lap, no matter what you do.

First I’ll talk about the handling: it’s quite a frustrating game to adapt to. The Wii controller is used as a steering wheel and it’s nice and responsive, but when you try and turn a corner the car shits itself and a dimension to another universe opens up. Turning into the apex of a corner as the physics in this universe would encourage, slows the car down almost to a crawl. To be fast, you basically have to bully your way through the broken physics by missing the braking point and just swinging wide as the car wobbles like it’s on the moon. Unbelievably, the car speeds up when it loses grip.

Here’s a TECHNICAL explanation of how fucked up the car handling in this game is; I could be wrong, but I feel it’s my duty to try and explain this. You can HEAR the engine wanting to change gears when you exit a corner conventionally – the sound is horrifying. It’s at peak revs yet at the same time, the tyres are struggling for traction. That means it’s time to SHIFT UP a gear, the car is READY! Except we can’t, and the game just sits there while the car tards out. Even though we can’t change gears in this game, the game incorporates it into the cars behavior. This leads me to believe that the game actually caps your car at a certain speed through corners, keeping it in low gear for far too long as it fails to recognise the corner finished a long time ago. Therefore, missing the apex of a corner TRICKS the game into thinking you’re not taking a corner at all, allowing you to keep your speed AND accelerate away! If you don’t do this, an invisible force appears to either push down on the car, or cleverly restrict the engine revs. This universe fascinates me!

OK, so now I’ve figured out how to play the game! Is it any fun? … not really. I did try to like it, but even when the handling “clicks”, it’s not very satisfying. In fact it goes against everything it means to drive a car fast in real life. Momentum is also unattainable; the car just slows too much and awkwardly skids even when you’re speeding up. At times I honestly have to question if the speedometer is lying to me as it changes with such odd timing compared to what my car is doing on screen. I’ve never questioned that in a game until now.

Since the driving isn’t fun, there isn’t much more to talk about. Passing cars is entertaining as the AI usually wanders all over the track; it’s impossible to predict where they’ll go next. The smallest bit of contact between two cars usually results in both of them glitching into the side of the track after doing a few uncoordinated flips.

As far as content goes I have no complaints, 8 tracks isn’t a huge amount but it’ll do for fifteen bucks, and the track design is unique. There’s standard races, a championship, a bizarre “weekend” mode which is just one track repeated over and over in the same championship, and crash mode. The crash mode isn’t really about crashing either, you just do a normal race and bump people for points. The AI seems to have no idea this mode exists as they drive normally and don’t even try to bump each other, making it incredibly easy to win. In fact, losing would be a bigger challenge as the opponents get no points at all. There is, however, a high score you can challenge. Fun.

Overall the game is crap.

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