This article originally appeared on Reviewcenter.com in 1999. Why haven’t we seen anything like it since? EA/VW — let’s get a game going!
By Tom Carroll
You would have to live in a cave in Northern Siberia to not know there was a new Beetle on the scene. Volkswagen pulled out all the stops in publicizing the debut of the ’90s Bug. In fact, there still may be a waiting list to own one. That’s why it’s good that Electronic Arts introduced Beetle Adventure Racing (BAR) In BAR you have the best of all worlds: a racing game that is truly worth paying cartridge prices for, and no waiting for the test drive.
BAR lets you leave the road behind and drive anywhere you want, well, almost anywhere. The game offers Single Race (good for beginners or lonely people) but it’s much more fun to take on a friend in Duel Mode, then jump into a Championship Season to uncover hidden tracks and bonus surprises. If you prefer smashing to dashing, duke it out with up to four players in a Beetle Battle where the fun is in total free-for-all annihilation.
Naturally, the cars are cool. They’re Beetles; what more do I need to say! But the game allows you to choose one that suits your own driving profile. I wanted one that was reasonably fast but would stay put on the road and not skid all over the place. That’s what I got. If I had wanted more speed and less traction, so be it (or vice versa).
The tracks are littered with bonus crates. Smash ’em for points or to borrow a kickin’ nitro boost for a mile or so. By the way, the crates look like they should slow you down, but they don’t. Smash them with complete abandon.
Giant jumps launch your car into the stratosphere. If you keep yourself reasonably lined up with the road just prior to the jump you should have a happy landing. If not, you’ll wind up at the bottom of a ravine or under water. Glub, blub! Naturally, drivers who can’t stay on the road incur a time penalty in exchange for becoming road worthy again.
The games designers lavished time and talent on BAR’s tracks and they are what I loved most about the game. In fact, the circuits in BAR are so richly detailed and spacious that they resemble environments for racing more than just tracks. There are short cuts all over the place. Entrances to exciting detours are often hidden by foliage or obstructions; have fun, explore, smash through stuff! Oh, if you’re worried about time penalties then use the Time Trial mode to explore without fear.
I docked BAR points for Cost. Naturally, I always think that N64 cartridges are too expensive (I can just hear Nintendo suits muttering, “What does he want us to do, give ’em away?”). I also dinged the game for sounds; although I liked the music tracks (they tend to stick in your head) they are a little too cute, tame and predictable.
Beetle Adventure Racing is an amazing racing game and a must have for any N64 owner. Although it is going out on a limb so early in the year, I nominate Beetle Adventure Racing for pole position in the race for 1999 racing game of the year.
Spectacular racing tracks and jumps
Extra smart track designs
Music tracks lie somewhere between 808 State and Lawrence Welk
User friendly: [rating:5/5]
Ratings were determined in 1998