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Game Over Online ~ Re-Volt

GameOver Game Reviews - Re-Volt (c) Acclaim, Reviewed by - jube

Game & Publisher Re-Volt (c) Acclaim
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 3D Accelerator
Overall Rating 82%
Date Published Sunday, August 29th, 1999 at 07:42 PM

Divider Left By: jube Divider Right

Many years ago, on a platform far far away, a game called Stunt Racer FX was decreed to be the finest kiddy-racing game to ever be designed. It featured incredible 16-bit powered 3d polygon graphics, a funktastic midi music soundtrack and the cutest little yellow coupe with the most adorable set of headlight eyes you’ve ever seen. Stunt Racer FX was a milestone in the kiddie-racing genre and it inspired countless knock-offs such as, uh, well there was Buggy, but that was a horrible cough syrup inducing nightmare wasn’t it? Let’s face the music; this genre has limited appeal to even its most “die-hard” fans. Try imagining, for a minute, what a “die-hard” kiddie-racing gamer must be like. Frightening, isn’t it? Let’s move on.

Rather than milking a dead cow, and possibly start another game-enthusiast-spawned-hate-jube debacle, let me make this clear: I like Re-Volt. It’s an entertaining little racing title. It’s a fresh and [inno-word deleted] idea that is executed with more ability than I was expecting initially. Though not perfect, Re-Volt uses all the tools in the toy box to create a gaming experience that will be enjoyable for most all gamers that give these little RC cars a try.

Things have come a long way since the days of Stunt Racer FX, and I am pleased to report that everyone’s first criteria, Graphics, Re-Volt finishes in first place against other racers in the genre. The levels are all brightly colored and decorated with assorted items like parked cars, sprinklers, fountains, sidewalks, toy trains and building blocks . The power-ups and weapons are equally as powerful and good looking. Bottle-rockets explode in a shower of sparks, bowling balls and oil cans shoot out the back of your car, other powerups, such as the booster battery or the car disabler make your car glow with a variety of colors and designs. Other details, like tiny tire marks that pile up on hair-pin curves and almost 30 unique car designs make Re-Volt very easy on the eyes.

Perhaps my favorite portion of the graphics in Re-Volt is a miniaturized bumper car table in one of the options menus. Completely unrelated to the actual game, this menu background features three wind-up cars running, bumping and flipping around a small circular table. I watched those little cars dork around on that table for the better part of five minutes. It was then that the Stunt Racer FX comparison hit me. This extemporaneous attention to detail that is present in both of these titles rounds out the entire gaming experience, and boy do I love those cute little cars. I have been told a number of console gamers that the PSX version of Re-Volt really falls flat on its face in the graphics area. Though bad news for PSX gamers, it is very nice to finally see a multi-platform title that takes full advantage of the PC gaming hardware, instead of just settling on the lowest common denominator. (Cough, Star Wars Racer, cough.)

Next up is the audio category, and again, I am pleased to report that a close attention to detail is also given to the sound. All the levels have an excessive amount of environment ambiance. Sprinklers swish, toy trains toot, museum motion sensors trigger bell alarms, its all very well done and appropriate to the race environments. In addition to the superb level sounds, an appropriate warp, buzz, laser, splash, bounce, collision, or honking represent the large assortment of non-lethal weapon sounds. Did I mention the honking? Oh yes, the honking. In what seems to be a friendly nod of acknowledgement of Stunt Racer FX, all the RC cars use the same distinctly goofy horn sound that was reused over and over in SRFX. Either Acclaim has a good sense of humor or no qualms with copyright infringement.

Re-Volt features seven main racing environments, which range in both aesthetics and racing styles. From a toy store, a ghost town to the deck of the Titanic the environments are designed and populated extremely well. These areas are broken up into a few dozen combinations of different races using alternate racing tracks and the age-old trick of mirror tracks. There is a large amount of tracks and cars initially unavailable that can be unlocked by, you guessed it, the age-old trick of winning the championship modes. Though I am not a fan of this game tactic of metered gameplay, it is fairly well done in Re-Volt. In addition to winning the championships, you can gain hidden items by collecting stars in the stunt track, placing on time trials and sending Acclaim lots and lots of cold, hard cash.

Acclaim has also included a track editor and the ability to create new skins for your cars. Big plus here, dudes. As you can imagine, track editors boast the shelf life of a game immensely, if done right. I’m not going to lie and say I spent a lot of time trying out the track editor. But from my brief encounter with it, it seems a bit on the unintuitive side. That’s really not a problem though, I’m sure as you read this dedicated “hardcore” kiddie-racing gamers are diligently coding front ends to make the track editing process easier.

Speaking of Physics, the physics in Re-Volt are fucking great! Basketballs bounce around and move in accordance with how you run into them. And run into them you will. Traction is at a premium in Re-Volt, and depending on track conditions, some of the fastest cars will get lapped by heavy, slower racing counterparts. While we are on the control subject, let me advise everyone that racing in “simulation” mode is down right tough. The collision and traction effects are akin to that of Grand Prix Legends, only they are shrunk to midget size and speed. Get used to spinning out, flipping over and over correcting on every curve and pass. Casual gamers may become frustrated with the higher “realism” settings, so I suggest those looking for “quick and dirty action” to stick with the simpler arcade settings.

Describing multiplayer in Re-Volt allows for another use for one of my favorite phrases: “quick and dirty action.” You have your choice of either a single race or battle tag, which is basically a version of car tag where you try to stay “it” as long as possible. After the race or tag match is over, its disconnect/reconnect time for everyone playing. Hoping Acclaim will be patch this quickly. Another annoyance that is nothing more than poor button placement is the usage of tab to start a multiplayer race. I can’t begin to count how many times races began prematurely by the host alt-tabbing into other programs. As far as the specs go, Re-Volt allows up to 8 players in a race through direct TCP/IP connection, though the lag would no doubt be terrible. During testing I used a 56k modem to host a three-player race. Latency was minimal, car placement occasionally clipped, but it did not slow down the game. Except for the time it locked up my machine. That slowed things down a bit.

Re-Volt has succeeded in its attempt at bringing the wacky world of radio-controlled car racing to your desktop. Though not as cartoonish or goofy as Stunt Racer FX, Re-Volt displays a high aptitude for combining solid arcade style racing with well-placed humor. Lets just hope this doesn’t spawn a batch of Buggy caliber knock-offs. I would cringe at the thought of a sequel to this title, but lord knows how that goes. Though it has its flaws, Re-Volt is extremely worthy source of good-natured, all American fun. God bless Acclaim for this fine product and God bless the “hardcore” kiddie-racing gamers for transforming this genre into what it is today.


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