Speed Racer - Nintendo Wii review

4 out of 5
£39.99

For

Car-Fu, alliances, gameplay

Against

Graphics, lack of multiplayer

With a heavy handed use of CGI in the blockbuster movie, it's not surprising that Warner Bros was keen to create a video game tie-in, but is it just like virtually every other film tie-in, i.e., a flop, or have they created a masterpiece? We get racing to find out.

Based on the film, Speed Racer is, as the name suggests, a racing game. The premise is that you race at breakneck speeds around futuristic racecourses that are suspended in the air trying to stay ahead of the competition while using underhand tactics Ben Hur style.

This being the Wii version, Warner Bros have opted to use the Wii Remote and its motion sensing to control the action. Using the controller on its side (it can be used with the Wii Wheel) you simply steer your way around the course Mario Kart style.

On the surface Speed Racer comes across as your average racing game offering the odd speed boost here and there and mass of psychedelic racecourses on which to race - nothing original there then.

As you might expect, there are a range of characters from the film to race with and of course different vehicles all with different characteristics.

On the race front you've got single race, time trials or championship mode and the chance to open up more courses, vehicles, and racing drivers as you complete and progress through the game.

That progress is marked out by a championship mode that offers you at first the chance to race against 11 other racers and eventually 19 in the final stages.

So what saves Speed Racer being just yet another futuristic racing game trying to live up to Wipeout?

The battle element, or Car-Fu as the game prefers to call it.

Instead of opting for power-ups like Wipeout or the recently released Mario Kart, Speed Racer opts for you shunting, jumping and spinning your car to hussle others off the road by jerking and pushing your Wii Remote in real life.

The move gives a real fighting feel to proceedings and makes for some great sofa-based two-player fun.

Get past the fighting and racing and that's not all Speed Racer has to offer, there is interestingly an alliance mode that allows you to form alliances with other racers. The idea is that you promise that you won't crash into them and they won't you (it's penalties if you do). While this means that your race will be less fighting and more driving it does mean you can't knock out an ally at the last minute before you cross the finish line.

Verdict

So it's a thumb's up then? Well not exactly, while the gameplay is really good fun and in typical Nintendo Wii style engaging, the graphics are disappointing and blurry. It would have been amazing to see the wonderful colourful racecourses in HD.

There then is the lack of online player with multiplayer modes reduced to just two players. It's nice that you can play up to 19 other computer bots in the final levels, but think how cool it would have been against 19 other real people.

Speed Racer: The Videogame is your average futuristic racer boosted by the Car-Fu elements and the engaging Nintendo Wii interaction. It's good but a lack of decent graphics and multiplayer stop this from being a must-have.