Automobili Lamborghini – Nintendo 64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Developer: Titus Software
Publisher: Titus Software
Release Date (NA): November 30, 1997
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Racing video games have been popular since the 1970s and there’s very little reason for the genre’s popularity to disappear. But the mid to late 1990s breathed new life into the racing genre with the 5th generation’s advancement in technology. Finally, the hardware was up to snuff and the consumers were eagerly awaiting. While the Nintendo 64 is notorious for its lack of deep games outside of Nintendo’s first party titles and a few others, it was certainly not criticized for a lack of racing titles. While the racing genre can only improve as graphics and technology improve, the 5th generation of gaming (Saturn, PlayStation, N64, 3DO) saw the biggest leap in terms of graphical capabilities, sound effects, and gameplay. So there were many posers in the market who disguised average games with sharp and detailed looks… Enter Automobili Lamborghini.
Automobili Lamborghini is the sequel to Lamborghini American Challenge, an entertaining and solid SNES and computer game from 1993/94. I hate calling this a “sequel” because it isn’t even remotely similar to the previous title. So, for the sake of brevity, let’s just pretend that it’s NOT a sequel, and treat it like this game stands alone. Cool? Alright, cool.
Autombili Lamborghini is an exclusive Nintendo 64 racing game developed and published by Titus Software of Superman 64 “fame.” But make no mistake, Automobili Lamborghini is a much better game, so that is the only time I will reference that abomination of a “video game.” We’ll pretend there’s no relation. After the release of the PS2 and GameCube, this game found itself a home in every GameStop and local merchant’s bargain bin. It’s not a rare game, and it’s not a game that is highly sought after, so its price tag will forever be around $1.00. But why? Is it a bad game? Let’s dig in and find out.
Automobili Lamborghini is a standard arcade style racing game whose intent was to portray realistic racing mechanics and graphics in an entertaining way. The lack of shells, ramps, explosions, etc will make you yearn for game’s like San Francisco Rush and Mario Kart 64, but Titus Software doesn’t care. The French software developer/publisher wanted to appeal to lovers of European sports cars with an affinity for true-to-life racing (and not the “kiddie” stuff). I’d say they did a damn good job of appealing to that market.
Featured here are four (4) race modes: Arcade, Championship, Single Race, and Time Trials. For anybody with even a smidgen of racing experience, you will not need any explanation of these modes. These are the standard race modes you’ll find in pretty much every game on the market. The objectives are as simple as they come, as with most racing games: finish first.
The graphics here are beyond good, teetering on the fence between great and spectacular. For its time, these graphics were top notch. You can instantly see the amount of care and detail that went into the visuals department as each car is accurately represented and the lines are sharply drawn. It’s not all peaches n’ gearboxes cosmetically as everything seems to be a bit bland. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are very detailed (as previously mentioned) and the cars are comprehensive, but the roadside essence is flat out absent. There are no signs and virtually no variety in the environment. The best looking track by far is the one by the beach. I’m all for sharp lines and great graphics, but not at the expense of the tiny details. You never think you’d miss these things until you’ve raced through the first three (3) tracks and they feel exactly the same except someone changed the curves on the road.
The controls are super tight and responsive, actually presenting a very steep learning curve for those familiar with games like Jet Moto or Mario Kart 64 or Daytona USA. The N64 controller‘s analog stick has far too much range for a game like this. I actually would have preferred it if they allowed me to use the d-pad instead because the analog stick is far too touchy. But after you lose about 3 or 4 races in a row, you’ll maybe have enough experience under your belt to finish no worse than 3rd place. After you’ve put in the requisite 800 minutes of learning time, you can advance to the next race tracks where you’ll suck all over again until you’ve figured it out.
Automobili Lamborghini is a surprisingly enjoyable game due to the challenging gameplay, the pleasing graphics, the upbeat techno music, and the tight racing mechanics. The developers put in a cool little feature that I really really enjoyed. I’m not saying that they’re the first to ever include this, but this is the first game I’ve ever seen it in. Right before any turn, there is a colored arrow telling you which direction. If the turn is soft, the arrow will be green. If it’s moderately sharp, it will be yellow. If it’s a very sharp turn, it will be red. This allows you to focus your eyes on the road instead of the map AND to get some sort of idea on how hard or soft you’ll need to use the analog stick. Despite this cool feature, ultimately you will turn off your system after a short play and never think of it again. This game is highly forgettable due to its extremely shallow gameplay. There is virtually no replay value. Your car does one thing and one thing only… It drives and turns. The A.I. is questionable and the lack of eye-candy in the environments make Automobili Lamborghini feel very basic and, well, lacking.
Overall, I had a good time. I know, I sat here talking about the negatives behind Automobili Lamborghini, but that doesn’t mean the game is bad. In fact, the game is actually a very decent game. Highlights of mine were finishing in 2nd place a couple times and, um, the, um… I mean. I don’t know. There’s not a lot of highlights, but the gameplay is super tight, just very thin, that’s all. The lack of depth hurts the final nerd rating tremendously. Titus Software gave us very little reason to ever play it again. I remember playing this a couple times in the early 2000s when I got it, and today (February 2016) is the first time I’ve played it since then. When will I play Automobili Lamborghini next? Probably never, now that I’ve reviewed it.
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
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