Wacky Races Preview

Infogrames is bringing the popular HB cartoon home. Catch up with Muttley, Dick Dastardly, and the rest of the Wacky Races posse.

For those of you who don't know, Wacky Racers is an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the '60s. The basic plot was that 11 outrageous contestants raced each other, and the main villain Dick Dastardly and his foul dog Muttley would set traps and do other evil deeds in the hopes of knocking Dastardly's opponents out of the race. Of course, the good guys always won, and Dastardly constantly found himself the victim of his own traps.

Wacky Racers on the Dreamcast uses an animation technology similar to that of Sega's Jet Set Radio. While crisp and 3D, all of the polygons have been somehow replaced with cartoonlike drawings, giving Wacky Racers a definite cartoon feel. This effect is very cool, and it looks nice on the Dreamcast. The backgrounds are sharp and detailed, and the characters look exactly like they did in the cartoon.

The game is set up more like a campaign than like your traditional kart-racing game. You'll choose a character, and then as you win races and find hidden items, you'll upgrade your power-ups and make your character a stronger racer. Wacky Races uses the traditional Dreamcast racing scheme of the analog buttons for acceleration and lets you assign your power-ups to the non-analog buttons before you race. Collecting tokens will let you choose which of your three power-ups you want to use, but using that power-up will place the expended tokens back on the track, allowing your opponents to pick them up.

The game will feature at least five game modes - Arcade, Championship, TimeTrial, Endurance, and Versus. The Versus mode shows promise as an excellent multiplayer experience, as you battle it out with spiffy gadgets and funny items, a la Super Mario Kart.

Unfortunately, in the early build, the AI is incredibly difficult to beat, and you don't really get any sense of speed in the game. Hopefully, by the time the game ships Infogrames will have cranked up the speed and loosened up the AI. We'll just have to wait and see.

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