Tag Archives: Shovelware

Reposted Review: Action Girlz Racing

 

(I originally wrote this for the now defunct Retro Retreat in 2012. It’s been updated.)

It’s been suggested that there are certain pieces of pop culture that are so horrible they’ve actually had a hand in creating the angry review shows we’ve come to know, and love.  Action Girlz *shudder* Racing  is the video game equivalent of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.  

PROS: There is nothing positive about this game whatsoever.

CONS: Broken controls. Broken graphics. Broken grammar. Broken everything.

WTF?: The title screen music is eerily similar to Hanson’s Mmm bop song.

AGR is one of the worst console experiences you will ever have should you have the misfortune of playing it. It would be easy to simply point out that one look at the box should send you screaming in the other direction. From the Bratz doll knockoff mascots on the cover, to the fact it beckons Lewis Lovhaug’s “Because poor literacy is kewl” meme be printed on it’s cover as a subtitle. But the biggest thing to do this should be the fact that it was put out by Conspiracy Entertainment, and Data Design Interactive. Back when the Wii was first coming out Nintendo would relax it’s seal of quality restrictions so that more third parties might put out some material on the console. DDI would take full advantage of this, spearheading the shovelware situation that plagued the system in it’s launch year. Not content to simply push out cheaply rushed titles, DDI actually reskinned a handful of games several times over, and sold them as entirely different ones. For example,  Anubis 2 (There was never an Anubis so figure that one out), is pretty much Ninjabread Man.

Anyway, AGR continues this trend of awful. I don’t like to have things compartmentalized to the point of bullet points. But this game pretty much requires it.

Graphics.

Starting with the graphics, (as they’re the first thing you’ll notice right away) the game has a penchant for stretched out low resolution textures. Even the title screen is a mess. The actual graphics of the gameplay don’t fare much better. when selecting a racer you’ll notice the character cards look nothing like the freakish Bratz doll knockoffs presented on the title screen. Once a race begins you will see visuals that are actually worse than a bottom rung N64 or PS1 title. That isn’t hyperbole. The models are insanely blocky, without any of the charm of Minecraft or Cubivore. Games where the intentional low fi visuals fit into a creative tapestry. These models instead reek of assembly line intent. Colored polygons slapped together to make characters with barely any artwork skinned to them. The textures that are there are very grainy, and washed out. Track designs aren’t very well put together either. they’re comprised of dead ends, out of nowhere 90 degree turns, and out of place hairpin turns. Coupled with the game’s other issues races are barely playable let alone winnable. There are also a lot of graphical glitches from inexplicable texture pop in, to geometry you will clip through.

Audio.

Definitely not the worst part of the game, but certainly not very good either. A mild retooling of Hanson’s Mmm bop plays on the title (Changed BARELY enough to avoid infringement apparently) screen, and terrible background tunes accompany the races. Sometimes it’s the title screen music. Sound effects range from horrible to passable. From the car sounds to power up chimes, sound effects are forgettable at best. There are also  quips you’ll hear from your Action Girl of choice. They never reach the level of offensiveness, but they will make you give yourself pause. You’ll find yourself wondering why they would include them, or what audience they were intended for.

Gameplay.

AGR essentially has 3 main modes, with the option to have up to four profiles. There are single races, time trials, and  a championship run. It steals from Mario Kart by making you go through 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc runs. But then it also has the audacity to make three difficulty levels within each. Doing this in turn unlocks other  tracks provided of course you win. Which you won’t. Because EVERYTHING in this thing is broken. Steering is done much like in Excitetruck. Holding the controller horizontally, buttons facing yourself you tilt it left corner up for right turns, and vice versa. 1, and 2 buttons are your gas, and reverse. The A button is supposed to use the weapons you run over. NONE of this works properly at all. All of the characters oversteer to the point of either flipping the car over, and rolling, or leading you to weave back, and forth until the car loses control, and crashes. Crash you will too. Right into geometry that you will likely clip through, and fall under the map before being respawned back into place. And don’t even think about trying to use weapons because most of the time they won’t work. When they do you’ll find they don’t have the place shuffling gravity of Mario Kart, Blur, or even Crash Team Racing.

The only thing that helps a little, (but still not enough to make things playable) is the fact that you can press the D pad to go to a car bumper camera. Thus, making wobbling back, and forth ever so slightly more manageable. Other characters are unlocked by collecting a ton of flower icons by driving over them. None of the extra characters are fun to use or very interesting. They all have the same soulless look to them, and spout off similar insufferable quips. Time Trials, and Single Race are pretty much useless modes unless you can find someone masochistic enough to play this drivel with you. Like most racers you can time trial to beat your own times but you really, really won’t want to waste your time on it when there are so many better games you could be playing. Again, the problems will impede any ability you have at doing so. Yes this horribly broken title includes split screen multiplayer. You, and up to 3 victims can convulse your terrifying dolls through a glitch filled wonderland if you’re out of forks to jam in each other’s eyes.  If by some miracle you can get past the initial cup in championship mode by coming in first my hats off to you. That said, it probably means Action Girlz Racing is the only game you own, and for that you also have my condolences.

Fun Factor.

Normally glitch filled, rushed games at least give the guilty pleasure feeling of  “This game is so horrible, and yet it is so much fun to mock it for all of it’s stupendously grand failures.”. This game’s only reward is pain. Any success you do find in it, is quickly replaced with more anguish. Take the worst film you’ve ever seen. Granted it’s a subjective question, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. (Although I’d have to question the sanity of any man, woman, or child who found enjoyment upon playing this travesty, and I don’t say that lightly.) Ask yourself to remember how many minutes it took you to walk out of the theatre. If you didn’t walk out of the theatre try to remember how you felt not only emotionally, but physically. Action Girlz Racing will double those feelings without breaking a sweat.

AGR is one of the worst titles I’ve ever played if not THE worst game I’ve ever suffered through. It is THAT BAD. “But Deviot!” You may exclaim. “You reviewed Scene It?: Twilight Edition! Surely, it can’t be worse than that game!” Oh but it can. Quite simply it is. Granted, S.I.T.E. was a poorly executed trivia game, but it still had SOMETHING for fans of it’s license. AGR is a train wreck in every sense of the euphemism. Avoid this like the plague, and if you see someone contemplating it as a gift for their child or grandchild you slap them on the wrist, and exclaim “NO!”. Avoid Action Girlz Racing at all costs.

Final Score: 0 out of 10 (Perish the thought!)

Crash Time 2 Review

Recently re-released on digital storefronts, Crash Time 2 is a game that tries to converge Criterion’s Burnout Paradise with Taito’s Chase H.Q.

PROS: Visuals hold up surprisingly well.

CONS: Jerky controls, glitches, abysmal voice acting

WAIT, WHAT?: Split Screen Multiplayer.

Originally released in 2008 as Burning Wheels, Crash Time 2 is the second game in a series of five games. The last of which was released two years ago. Many players will have only recently heard of this franchise. Why? Because it was predominately marketed, and sold in European countries. With its release on Steam, Crash Time 2 finally brings the franchise to other parts of the world.

The game takes place in an open city environment, with hub tunnels connecting various areas of the city. In the game you play as a duo of police detectives who have to go on missions stopping criminals. Crash Time 2 has several modes of play. The first is a story mode that puts you in aforementioned scenarios chasing down criminal drivers. Sometimes it mixes things up by having you drive to a certain location, or alongside a certain NPC vehicle. These missions borrow heavily from Taito’s Chase H.Q. games.

You’ll spend most of the story mode chasing down criminal cars, and trying to ram them off of the road until they finally break down. The game also attempts to take a page from Criterion’s Burnout series of games by having damage modeling factor into the missions. As you drive into objects like fences, oncoming cars, or even the enemies you are tasked with bringing down, you will take damage. Windshields will crack, bodies will dent, and  your wheels can even snap off of the axle. Damage will negatively affect car behavior, making maneuvering more difficult.

As you complete missions, you’ll also get access to other cars throughout the game. There are a fair number of them.

The second mode is a free-roam mode. This lets you pretty much drive around, taking things at your leisure. It’s about the best part of the game, as it’s going to let you get a good idea of where roads lead, and where you can go off of the beaten path. There are also a number of areas connected by tunnels. These load the next open section that you’re heading into. Each of these are of a fair size, and give you a decent amount of ground to explore.

Finally, there is a racing mode. This mode works essentially like the old Burnout games, in that you have a circuit of tracks against other A.I. racers, and you can force them into traffic, ram them, and such to try to destroy their cars, and cost them time. But unlike the games it  steals from (It even features an instant replay when you crash or take someone down) it doesn’t reward you for driving recklessly. In fact, if you drive into oncoming traffic the game gives you a warning countdown to get back into your own lane as it doesn’t count as part of the track. As you go through this mode, you’ll unlock newer tracks, and cars.

All of this sounds pretty respectable until you actually start playing. While I’ve certainly played worse driving games, Crash Time 2 isn’t very good. This is because cars have some of the worst driving mechanics this side of early sandbox crime games. Cars always take the widest, sluggish turns. The game does have a hand brake button in addition to the regular brake button. The hand brake function in most other racing games is awesome. It makes drifting around those “L” shaped turns achievable. In this game however, it’s horrible. Unlike a good arcade racer, This makes drifting  around 90 degree turns nearly impossible. Which is really bad because the criminal driver A.I can do it with ease. Even on the easiest setting with traffic set to the minimum number of cars this will be troublesome. Hand braking will almost always result in a spin out or an axle breaking car crash. Criminals get away, races are lost, and free roaming is cut short.

The game does throw in a rechargeable nitro boost to give you a chance to catch up, but chances are the A.I. will easily escape with perfect cornering after you grind a guard rail or love tap a weary traveler. To remedy this, you have a siren function the game swears makes traffic stay out-of-the-way in the loading screen tool tips. But the siren does absolutely nothing for you in practice. There is also a horn button, but again this is wasted breath.

Losses are not only infuriating, but tedious too. Rather than simply start you at a checkpoint when you’ve taken too much damage, it forces you to watch a timer countdown. As the enemies escape your range while you’re stranded with no wheels. If you’re the persistent type you will pause, and restart with every crash instead of going through this monotony. When you do hit objects, or enemy targets the game arbitrarily throws out damage point money in Euros. But this doesn’t seem to serve any practical purpose in game play.

 

While the car damage does look pretty cool, in practice it isn’t very good either. This is because it is FAR too easy to destroy a crucial part of the car. A minor grind up against the curb will many times cause a wheel to snap off of the axle. Even at pedestrian speeds. Sometimes you could be hit by NPC traffic, resulting in getting T-Boned, and thwarting your ability to steer. This will only serve to annoy you further.

Voice acting in this game is awful. Dialogue comes off as if the performers simply read their lines aloud off of cardboard. There are no believable performances whatsoever. The generic metal soundtrack fares a little bit better, but in time you will probably shut off most of the sounds that aren’t actual vehicle or car accident sound effects.

There is no online multiplayer in this game either. So if you are morbidly curious enough to play it, do not expect to be able to play it with friends or relatives over the internet. The game does have split screen multiplayer for whatever reason. So if you must insist on playing it with someone at the same desk you can. It also allows you to split the screen vertically or horizontally.

The game features a tutorial you can play through to try to get a hang on the basics, but with the wonky steering controls it really won’t matter. This is one of those budget titles that starts off with a bit of promise, but squanders it all with its bad controls. Even when using a gamepad Crash Time 2 isn’t very fun. The same floaty, fishtailing on even the slightest turns is still present with a controller. True, there are far worse driving games out there to be sure. But there are also many, many, better ones. Please, for your own sake, and sanity play one of those instead.

Final Score: 3 out of 10