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Cruis’n USA – N64

Cruis’n USA – N64

Cruis'n_USA_for_N64,_Front_CoverPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Williams Entertainment

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): December 3, 1996

Genre: Racing, Arcade-style

Nerd Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Cruis’n USA has to be one of the most popular arcade racing games of all time. If not the most popular of all time, definitely in the mid to late ’90s. I feel like you couldn’t go into a single arcade without seeing this game in there. The arcade version was developed by the arcade powerhouse Midway Games and saw considerable success. Nintendo of America saw the prime opportunity to “bring the arcade experience into your home on the newest and strongest video game console ever made: The Nintendo 64!” It was released for the cruisn usa 2Nintendo 64 very soon after the system’s release, giving it a strong competitive edge against only a small number of games for the system.

Back in ’96, I was WAY too busy playing Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. But years later, this game could be found in bargain bins of most video game stores as they tried to clear their shelves of old inventory and make way for the Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox gaming library on the way in. When I got my hands on it for somewhere in the 5 to 10 dollar range, I remember being pretty psyched! I loved the arcade game! I always thought it was pretty awesome that me and a friend would be playing the game side by side in an arcade with our own steering wheels on our own screens, and out of nowhere, you see a car come flying in front of you with a big “player 2” over their head, swerving into guardrails and mowing down traffic signs.

With all of that being said, you’d think I would have been happy and pleased with Cruis’n USA and the ability to now play it at home without having to pump quarter after quarter into it, right? Unfortunately no! Actually, HELL NO! All of the fun arcade experiences are completely gone but the annoying arcade experiences are still present, such as bad music, overly sensitive steering, and really short race tracks with short times to beat and pointless checkpoints to reach. If the point is to win the race, why am I still forced to: 1. win the Cruis'n USA (E)race and 2. beat the clock?! This doesn’t make sense at all! I can understand why they do it in arcades… some little runny-nosed dumb kid could drive backwards for 3 minutes and Midway Games and the arcade would lose money! But why in the HELL would this be translated over to the Nintendo 64? I own this game! If I want to drive backwards, I’ll be damned if you’re going to control me on my couch! Give me my money back and I’ll mail you a quarter every day!

You can see by my words that I’ve lost my temper with this game. But let’s talk about what this game really is and what they offer. You choose one of four race cars (apparently there are 3 other cars to unlock but that’s a pointless as owning 5 Sega Genesis systems……….. wait, what?) and try to win races all the way across the nation from coast to coast. The cars all seem to race the same. I couldn’t notice a difference at all for each vehicle, but that could be just me. The racing locales are probably the best part of this game. There’s nothing about the locations that really alter the gameplay like they might in other racing games (ice in northern cities? water in coastal towns? etc), but they are very pretty and add to that “road trip” experience as you trek your way across America.

The graphics are a bit of a disappointment. The Nintendo 64 was strong for its time and its capabilities had already been proven with cruisn_vcmm_wrap_lggames like Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Wave Race 64, the latter of which is a true gem of a game when it comes to graphical abilities in 1996. While the colors are great, the animation is overly simple and badly textured. The gameplay is choppy and feels more like an LCD game from the Game and Watch series like Manhole than like a next-generation 64-bit video game. You would also think that for such a short game, Cruis’n USA would have used some of that cart space to increase on such things. But no.

Overall, this title feels almost like it was rushed to market. I can’t say for sure, but I would bet that either it was rushed to the shelves or Nintendo got lazy and wanted to cash in on a sure thing. After all, Cruis’n USA DID make Nintendo 64’s Player’s Choice as a million cart seller. Very impressive considering the sheer poop factor packed in this game. I will say, though, that this game can be found for less than $5 in MANY places. It’s not tough to get at all. And at a price like that, it could be fun for kids! Plus, if you have any young teenage boys, they’ll be happy to win a race and see that hot ’90s chick with the trophy. If you’re not interested in that, a $5 big box lunch from Hardee’s is probably a better investment as the satisfaction will last longer.

Check out Cruis’n USA‘s successors Cruis’n World and Cruis’n Exotica for considerably better racing experiences.

Reviewed by NerdBerry

cruisn usa

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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