Now why don't my Hot Wheels do that?
I don't remember having a lot of Hot Wheels, but I know for sure that at some point in my childhood I had at least couple. I'm positive that everyone has held one of those tiny, little, die-cast cars in their hands at one point or another in their lifetime. They're an American icon -- like Barbie or G.I. Joe. Before you're old enough to have a real remote control car, you have to prove yourself with Hot Wheels. You build little ramps out of books and whatnot, or if you're lucky, you get those little tracks with loops and springs that launch your cars. It's amazing how easily entertained I was.
Apparently today's kids aren't so easily amused. In order to cater to the high-tech, fast-paced and explosion-loving kids of the 90s, EA has delivered Hot Wheels Turbo Racing. Big on crashes, speed, and stunts, Hot Wheels is definitely more bang for the buck.
The purpose of Hot Wheels is to win the coveted Hot Wheels Cup- the premiere event of miniscule-motorsports. The Hot Wheels Cup consists of six different races (there are 11 different tracks total) that put those flimsy store-bought, plastic tracks to shame. At the outset of each event you can choose any car in your arsenal because some cars are best suited for certain tracks. Each of the 40 available roadsters has different characteristics. Some use brute force to knock opponents around, while others use speed and finesse to breeze by the other racers.
Hot Wheels appears at first to be your run-of-the-mill racing game, but you soon see that has an entirely different style of gameplay. Your goal is still to finish in first place, but the ways and means you accomplish this task are totally unique. Because Hot Wheels are toy cars, the normal rules of physics don't necessarily apply. Thus you can perform dizzying flips, rotations, rolls, and jumps -- just like how you always wanted your Hot Wheels to act when you were a kid. The game awards your death-defying stunts by giving you turbos, which in turn can be used to for a much needed speed burst. The tactical use of turbos is extremely important.
Other modes of play, besides the cup, include air-time challenge, exhibition, and practice. In the air-time challenge you try to collect as many points as you can by performing stunts within the allotted time. This can also be played against another opponent. In exhibition, you simply choose any track and race against the computer or a friend.
Your Hot Wheels don't exactly perform like normal vehicles. For one, they steer much more easily and are less prone to slide. Makes sense, since they weigh about two ounces apiece. They do have a hand brake though, in case you need to make a power slide. Once you get used to the toy-like control, racing your Hot Wheels is simple.
Graphics in Hot Wheels are a mixed bag. The cars and tracks look pretty good and the frame rate is pretty fast, but the look of the tracks doesn't seem quite right. In my imagination, Hot Wheels would be raced on toy tracks through the back yard, on table tops, or in toy rooms. Instead, the tracks are a mix of real-life terrain, industrial areas and other random places. If the designers had truly wanted to capture the feel of racing little toy cars, they should've taken this into consideration and let you burn rubber in the kitchen. What we're left with is a game that tries to put toy cars into a quasi-real environment. There are plenty of jumps and loops, but their toy-like qualities clash with the natural environments. On the plus side, the cars look true to life and really bring back some memories.
The music in Hot Wheels is something to look forward to. Metallica, Mix Master Mike (of Beastie Boys fame), and Primus, among others, contribute music to the game. Let me tell you now that Enter Sandman and Unforgiven from Metallica are NOT in the game, so don't get your hopes up too much. Nevertheless the choice of such big name artists adds greatly to the racing experience.
Performing stunts in the game is very intuitive and easy to master. This makes playing the game especially hectic because you always want to pull off huge stunts even on the tiniest of jumps. In order to make crashing not entirely unpleasant, most of the time you screw up you can correct yourself. Or, you can simply press a button and be instantly reinserted onto the track whenever you pull a huge bomb.
If I had to describe Hot Wheels in one word, it would be "wild." With six cars on the track at once, each pulling crazy flips and spins at every jump, Hot Wheels is insane. You're sure to see plenty of huge crashes, explosions, and pileups.
From the perspective of a six-year-old boy, this game would be a blast. But taken from the standpoint of an adult, Hot Wheels leaves something to be desired. The major fault is weak long-term value. The game is fun for a while, but it isn't going to be sitting in your Playstation for a very long time. All the pieces of the game work well together, but the sum of all the parts doesn't add up to a classic game.
Thus the fate of Hot Wheels is a judgement call for the consumer. If you're looking for a game to buy for a child, especially one without blood, then Hot Wheels is sure to please. But if you're just a Hot Wheels fan or are looking for the latest, greatest racing game, I recommend renting before buying. This game, much like the toys, are meant for the very young at heart.