Hot Rod Racer (Wii U eShop) Review
So I’ve been sitting on this title for a few days now, contemplating what or how I was going to write this review. I never thought something so simplistic would be so difficult to review, but I find that it’s always the indie games that are the most difficult. I’ve given the game enough time, and many chances to sway my mind in either direction, and a decision has been made here. To be honest, there are a handful of titles on Nintendo’s Wii U eShop that make you ponder on whether you would really want to waste your $3 dollars on an indie title, or a Happy Meal. As much as I would love to say “buy this game”, I honestly can’t without saying sorry.
I will begin by saying that Hot Rod Racer was almost a neat little nod to my childhood. Emphasis on the almost. Immediately starting the game reminded me of Konami’s Road Fighter for the NES, which will always have a special place in my heart. So when I loaded this for the first time and was greeted by somewhat of a similar style, I was excited. Unfortunately, that feeling withered real quick. Being greeted with a cartoony logo and bland graphics, I had to remind myself that I was playing a game with a developmental team of one. But it was hard not to critique the title here and say that it could use a little spit-shine on the graphics side.
The terrain comes very much into the gameplay side here, where you will be greeted with a randomly generated track every time you start, with obstructions placed all over the track. This can be annoying, as it leads to poorly designed levels where stones, oil-rigs, cars, bikes, rivers, and cliffs can take you directly off the course in a matter of seconds from starting the race. It could be a little difficult at times, judging what you weren’t able to interact with on course, with blue oil-rigs allowing players to refuel their vehicles, and red oil-rigs blowing up, and ultimately ending your race. The terrain confusingly turns to patches of black when you head far enough into the course, almost like the game was saying, “okay you’ve reached as far as I can take here, we’re just waiting for you to crash now”, so I wasn’t sure if it was a challenge set, or the game was breaking/glitching, or if it was just poor design.
The speedometer is just completely off balance, where at times you will be zooming right through the level, gaining points for the leaderboard, but will have jarring moments where you will slow right down for no apparent reason. I had no trouble steering the vehicles though, very simple of moving the left analogue stick of the gamepad up and down, and also registers on how sharp of a turn you want to make, so there’s definitely a plus there. However, due to the randomly placed “intrusions” as I would refer them to, you would mostly end up off-course, and either onto the grass, or slamming into a tree.
The music from the game seems to have it’s redeemable factors, which small little chiptunes that will try and motivate you into having a somewhat good time playing. Small critique here would be that a cartoon car engine sound effect goes a long way here for a cheap additional effect. Just saying.
It’s become a certainty that you get what you pay for on the eShop and Hot Rod Racer is no exception here. Don’t get me wrong here, this title would be great if it was a free iPhone title. It reminds me of when Angry Birds was just released for the App Store, and how bland and buggy it was before it became a cultural phenomenon. I can’t say that this would have the exact same fate as Angry Birds, but the concept is there. It’s a fun little mobile game, that’s unfortunately on the wrong system.