Tuesday 7 July 2020

Cruis'n USA (N64 review)

Developer: Williams
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1996

Cruis'n USA is a racing game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1994.

Supporting 1-2 players, the objective is to race across America and place first in each of the game's 14 courses. The notion of racing from coast-to-coast is a terrific idea and gives your mission a grander feel than focusing on singular races. Courses such as Beverly Hills and Golden Gate Park offer plenty of visual stimulation due to the many famous landmarks on display, and the wide open spaces give you plenty of room to jockey for position. However, others such as Death Valley and Redwood Forest offer ridiculously narrow lanes where it's almost impossible not to crash every few seconds due to the amount of traffic. This is no more apparent then when swerving around a bend, as you're almost 100% guaranteed to be greeted with unforeseeable vehicles lining up to ruin your day. Weirdly, non-racer cars have a habit of veering onto the wrong side of the road which is both annoying and unfair considering you're not even competing against them! What also irritates is the fluctuating frame-rate and peculiar opponent A.I. that's seemingly unbeatable on your first course attempt, only to become a pushover on the next go. Still, despite these technical flaws, I do like how the controls are simple for anyone to quickly master (e.g. only two buttons are really needed so you can accelerate and brake, the latter rarely being required due to your car's extreme turn radius). The unlimited continues are also great, as is the fact that each course is short to ease some frustration. There's no positives regarding the graphics though, as the blurry textures, low-poly car models and poor draw distance resemble a PS1 title.

Cruis'n USA is a flawed game that can be incredibly cheap at times due to its technical deficiencies that often rely on good fortune favouring driving prowess in order to succeed. However, with its decent course design and simple controls, those looking for some mindless racing action can certainly do a lot worse than this.

Random trivia: While planned as an N64 launch title, this port was delayed by three months due to Nintendo requesting various changes.

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