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
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