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Hot Wheels Turbo Racing – Nintendo 64

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing – Nintendo 64

hot wheelsPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Stormfront Studios

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date (NA): August, 1999

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Zoom zoom… or not. This isn’t a Mazda commercial. This is Hot Wheels Turbo Racing for the Nintendo 64. If you’re like me, then you probably have never played this game before. And if you’re really like me, then you probably don’t have a single desire to play it, either. However, considering that Nerd Bacon is currently driving face first into a pile of horseshit by playing bad games for the entire month of April (God help us all), I guess I’ll plug in my 16-bit blast processing Sega Gen… oh, wait. That’s the Sega Genesis. I guess I assumed that Hot Wheels Turbo Racing MUST be a 4th generation game because Hot Wheels are soooo late ‘80s/early ‘90s. But then again, maybe it just seems that way because I grew up… hmm… There will be lots o’ pondering tonight, but first let’s figure out why someone wanted to make a Hot Wheels racing game for the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.

HotWheelsTurboRacing-2

Like nearly all racing games, there is no purpose to Hot Wheels Turbo Racing except to race on a track from start to finish. But what makes a game like this different from all other racing games is the emphasis on racing cast-model cars on the same kind of elaborate Hot Wheels race tracks you would buy at K-Mart or K.B. Toys (if you grew up in the 90s, then you know what I’m talking about). These race tracks feature all of the bright colors and crazy loops you remember from your track at home, but the tracks in the game have the added feature of being blended into natural environments such as the desert or mountains. It’s an interesting combination to have your traditional racing track in the mountains covered with a bright blue track, but that’s what Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is all about.

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing features 21 cars right off the bat and I hear there are 41 total cars to play, but I have yet to see them all and I’ve been playing this game for about four hours now. In addition to the plethora of cars, there are also six lengthy and loaded tracks. One track, in particular, took me almost seven minutes to finish! Granted, there are a total of four laps, but the track seemed to be endless and it wasn’t until the start of the 3rd lap that I said to myself, “Hey, this looks familiar.” Each track is loaded with a variety of the following: loops, ramps, jumps, obstacles, explosives, hazards, tunnels, corkscrews, spirals, or a halfpipe. Variety is NOT an issue in Hot Wheels Turbo Racing as it provides ample amounts of it in either vehicle options or track selection.

hot wheels 2

Unfortunately for The Bacon’s take on playing bad games, I don’t have a whole ton of negative things to say about Hot Wheels Turbo Racing. In fact, this game is pretty damn enjoyable. Stormfront Studios was kind enough to add some neat elements to Hot Wheels that make it so much more than just a racing game. The best facet of the game comes directly from its title… Turbo! You have a finite number of turbo boosts you can use, and your turbo meter in the bottom left of the screen will indicate exactly how many you have. So what do you do when you run out of turbo? Good question. Glad you asked! The answer to that lies directly in the center of this Hot Wheels game… Stunts.

hot wheels 6

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing utilizes vehicle stunts to increase the wow factor and to increase your turbo meter. When you perform simple stunts, like a simple 360, then you get +1 increase towards your turbo meter. But if you perform wacky and crazy stunts, you can max out your turbo meter with just one trick the moment you stick the landing (such as doing 10 back flips in a row)! It would appear that the vehicles use small jet boosters to help them perform their aerial maneuvers. The vehicles are capable of front flips, back flips, full horizontal spins, barrel rolls, and so much more if you get creative and try to mix and match these stunts!

To help you set up any of your stunts, or even just simply drive around, the developers were kind enough to lend this game some incredible vehicle controls. The controls aren’t always perfect, but the most basic of controls, such as steering, accelerating, and braking, feel exceptionally responsive and tight. I especially like the feel of taking a vehicle around any sharp turn while boosting as the vehicles seem to hug the curve very well. While the simple controls are very responsive, the same can’t be said for controlling any of your aerial stunt moves. Sometimes I would be pressing down on the joystick (this is how you perform a back flip) over and over while in the air and it wouldn’t start to work until I was over halfway through the jump. I was angry because I COULD HAVE GOTTEN SO MANY MORE FLIPS! This sort of nuisance seems to happen with all vehicles in all situations while trying to perform any stunt, which leads me to believe it’s not a “non-responsive” type of situation, but maybe an oversight by the developers. But after a while you learn to be a little more patient and just keep on truckin’.

hot wheels 4

With a plethora of race cars, a decent sample of tracks to choose from, long tracks, turbo boosts, crazy acrobatic car stunts, and great controls, what could possibly be wrong with Hot Wheels Turbo Racing? For starters, the graphics are a tad bit below average. Flat colors and flat textures coat everything from the sky to the race track and anything in between. It’s actually a shame because I hear the graphics are vastly superior to the PlayStation version of this game, and that makes me worried for any PlayStation players out there! The graphics aren’t entirely awful, but they are below average.

The bad graphics aren’t the only shortcoming in this game as music and sound effects will have you cringing in pain. You know… The kind of pain where someone stabs you in the ear with a super long Q-Tip Freddy Krueger style. Yea. That pain. The music is below average, especially when compared to the PlayStation version and their CD-quality soundtracks. But the music is heaven to your ears when compared to the sound effects. I know I’m being a little harsh and unforgiving, but I thought the only decent sound effect was the turbo boost sound. Everything else was abysmal and bland. It should have belonged on a Sega Master System game.

hot wheels 3

And the final awful thing about Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is how there is literally NO sense of scale. I feel like I am racing an actual human-sized vehicle, not a small Hot Wheels car. This is a shame because that was kind of the point, right? Hell, it would have been cooler if they mucked up the scaling so bad in the other direction that it felt like I was driving Micro Machines (anybody remember THOSE?), but they got the scale so jacked up, it felt just like racing REAL cars. Tsk Tsk. C’mon Stormfront. And to Electronic Arts… Go make a billion dollars reissuing the same NFL football game every summer… Oh wait…

hot wheels micro machines

Overall, Hot Wheels Turbo Racing really caught me by surprise. With a variety of options, great controls, and exceedingly fun game play, I can highly recommend this game with the utmost sincerity. I was very disappointed with the lack of accurate scaling, poor graphics, and dreadful sound effects, but the sheer fun factor – driven by the stunt and turbo inclusions – makes up for those shortcomings and many others. To make Hot Wheels an even better game, despite fixing the aforementioned issues, I would have liked more tracks to choose from. Perhaps a bad-ass stunt track like we got in Midway’s Rush 2. Hmm… Now that would have really put some emphasis on performing stunts. Regardless of what Stormfront Studios failed at while making Hot Wheels Turbo Racing, they still made a solid racing game that more people should take a stab at.

Written by Nerdberry

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!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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