But where is Tom Slick?
In real life, the sheet metal and chassis of your car do not bend and distort at high speeds, but in Motor Toon Grand Prix (Motor Toon 2 in Japan) your vehicle stretches with every sharp turn. That is because it is a fantasyland racing game with 3D, cartoon-like animation.
Pick your character with his or her designated car (actually, you are not limited to gas burners in this game).While Captain Rock races the 2000cc, double overhead cam turbo Rock Speeder, the robot Bolbox cruises a four-wheel drive V8. There are eight different choices of characters in the entire game. One of the special characters you can choose after earning bonus points is Billy the Tough, a steam locomotive. Although Billy the Tough is a more challenging vehicle to race, he stands up pretty well against attacks from other competitors. There is also a pair of competitors from outer space called Raptor and Raptor who fly above the track in their hovering ship.
Although the point of the game is to finish the race first, it’s not just about smooth maneuvering at the wheel. Along each track are very visible dollar signs which give you one coin towards purchasing one out of seventeen different special weapons. When you cash in your coins, a wheel of weapons starts to spin. You do not select which weapon you get. This adds an element of randomness to the game, and you are lucky if you get the one you want. Examples are oil cans, turbos, missiles, fire balls, bombs, super shields, and, yes, a 32 ton weight. Two of the neatest weapons that can fall into your possession are the Wonder Clock, which stops time and everything else except you, and Pandora’s box, which makes all vehicles but yours spin. You don’t always get your money’s worth when you buy an item, though. For instance, the magic canes that make you either bigger or smaller end up slowing you down. Also remember to keep your eyes on the road and not watch the weapons roulette wheel to see what it lands on – you are likely to drive off course.
You will, however, find yourself driving through a giant roulette wheel and dodging over-sized billiard balls. The tracks progress from an island to a village to a roller coaster. Each level gets somewhat more challenging, but it is mainly just a change of scenery. The championship race is point based. Finishing first on a track awards you 10 points. Each place after awards less. You also have to place at least sixth to qualify for the next course. Since the number of basic tracks is limited to five, you get a chance to become familiar with where to turn and what to avoid. To see other tracks and choose from more special characters, you must place first in every heat.
Although the theme of racing a car and using weapons against other opponents is not very original (dating back to Spy Hunter), the speed, smoothness of 3D animation, and the overall loony-ness of play makes it an entertaining drive and shoot game. Sound effects and image warping enhance the colorful, cartoonish experience. The animation is adjustable to eliminate the bending of the cars, but this tends to take some fun out of the drive. Unlike other more realistic racing games, you have no transmission to shift and no pitstops to fix you up. But like most popular racing games, the screen includes total times, lap times, fastest records, current speed, current lap, and a map showing exactly where you are in relation to the track and other drivers.
You can switch to first person, third person, and aerial camera angles. The video replays are actually worth watching. You can see yourself from several illustrative camera perspectives, making it more like a movie. The manual camera mode even allows adjustment to camera direction and height when viewing.
When you want to take a break from the competitive stuff, there are the Single Race, Time Attack, and Free Run modes. However, you can only practice on tracks which you have already completed
A weakness of the game is that you don’t get to keep collected coins after finishing each track. Also, there is not much of a sense of adventure in the game as it can become a little repetitive. The challenge is mainly to perform well and earn bonus goodies so that you can advance into new parts of the game.
While it’s no Wipeout XL, Motor Toon Grand Prix is an excellent game. It has slick graphics, a lot a variety, and will give you a good challenge and a good laugh. It’s not “virtual” racing, but it is virtually insane. And you don’t need an analog steering wheel to win.