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Cruis'n USA Review

Publisher - Nintendo
Developer - Midway Home Entertainment
Platform - N64
Type - Racing
Score - 5/10

I've been holding off on reviewing this game for a while. This is because I've been looking for this game in the arcades, and I've been spending too much time playing Waverace. I wasn't able to locate any Cruis'n USA machines. The closest I came was an inoperative Cruis'n World game. So, I have no idea if the N64 port is like the arcade version. I can only hope it is a bad, bad port...

Cruis'n USA is an all-round crappy game. While the game gives you a multitude of music tracks to listen too, they are all bland and boring. It appears that their crack sound design team listened to popular songs and did their best to suck the life out of them and jam 'em into this cart. Also the engine revs and screeching tires don't exactly jump out of the speakers. If you end up playing this game, turn the sound on the TV down and beat a cat with a baseball bat. It will sound better that way.

The graphics in this game are no picnic either. In the days of the Super Nintendo, this game would have been a breakthrough in graphics. Unfortunately, this is NOT 4 years ago and our expectations have risen. Cruis'n USA looks like a bad Sony Playstation game; the drawing is blocky, the colors clash, the frame rate is low, and everything looks flat. This may be just fine for a Playstation owner, but N64 owners expect a hell of a lot more. Cruis'n USA also suffers from graphics problems that none of the other games seem to have. The game is horribly choppy which degenerates into pathetically choppy in two player mode. Another tragedy is the sickly draw in. Objects fade into existence obviously and suddenly. In the redwood forest stage, the forest magically appears and disappears. Even Mario64 has minor draw-in problems, but it handles them gracefully. Cruis'n USA handles draw-in problems with a steam roller.

The controls in Cruis'n USA are just fine. The controller is readily configurable and cars are responsive. Unfortunately, this doesn't do much for the game. Cruis'n USA plays like Night Driver (good old Atari days, remember?) with updated graphics. This game isn't 3-D; there are no corners to go around, no side streets to zip down, and no real need for a precision analog joystick. What good are the controls if there's nothing to use them on?

I don't normally comment on the design of a game; you have to judge a game by what the creators intended it to be. It would be unfair to judge Monopoly based on the fact that you use dice to move or money to acquire properties. I have to make an exception in this case- the holes in the design of this game are so huge, you could drive a semi-truck through them.

As I said earlier, the game plays like Night Driver. While most racing games play like this, the N64 has set itself apart as a platform for innovation. This is the same old miserable crap. Another big problem is collisions. When two cars hit each other, they bounce around like toy Matchbox (Hot Wheels?) cars. It looks stupid. Rad Racer for NES handled collisions better. Also, you have to place 1st in a race to continue. That's a great scheme for wrangling quarters in the arcade, but why have that in the home version? The result is the player is forced into playing mediocre levels over and over and over and over again. AND (didn't think I'd stop there did you?) when the car hits the finish line, it stops dead in its tracks. I could care less about realism, but that, much like collisions, looks just plain STUPID. In two player mode, when one player stops dead at the finish, the other guy stops in his tracks as well. If you do finish first, you're greeted by a poorly rendered, large breasted woman, jiggling up the screen. It some how manages to be embarrassing, annoying, and insulting at the same time. AND (no, not done bitching yet), the slap in the face is the fact that the game doesn't FEEL fast. Not even in first person mode. Why play a racing game that isn't fast?

SO... what's the final word on Cruis'n USA? Hey- are you on crack? Did you read this review or what? I don't see why you would want to play Cruis'n USA when you could stick your finger in a light bulb socket instead. If you want a racing game for N64, buy Waverace. If Waverace doesn't butter yer biscuit, wait a while and we'll get some more racing games soon (Mario Kart should be in the States in February). Don't buy this game. Even if you couldn't find any carts because of the Christmas shortages, DON'T buy this game.