Racing games have really become a wasteland. Lack of innovation in an already overcrowded genre is causing the games to suffer from cookie-cutter syndrome. Running Wild may be a racing game, but it really does things differently. Here, you race as bipedal animals, and you must jump over all sorts of obstacles to succeed. Think the original Crash Bandicoot's perspective with a whole lot more speed.
There are six tracks in the game, each with a vastly different theme. Also, depending on the difficulty setting, the track will be adorned with various obstacles that force you to steer a little more precisely. There are six characters to choose from, each with different attributes. The elephant is strong, the bull can turn very well, while the zebra is the all-around racer. There are also hidden boss characters in the game, which are unlocked by beating challenge mode on the hardest setting. Aside from the challenge mode, there's also a circuit mode, a time trial mode (which allows you to race against your best time), and a single-race mode.
The gameplay in Running Wild is surprisingly fun. There is a variety of speed-ups and other power-ups on the track, some of which will make you bigger, allowing you to simply stomp your competition. Others will give you weapons. But the speed power-ups are the most important, as they'll increase your top speed. If you go through a race without collecting any of them, you have no hope of winning.
The graphics in Running Wild are simple, yet effective. The characters and tracks have a very Warner Bros. look to them, and the game runs at a very high frame rate. The smooth frame rate really gives the game a nice feeling of speed. The sound and music fit in well with the cartoony feel of the game.
It's nice to see a fresh take on the racing-game genre. Running Wild manages to be a fun enough game, with enough secrets and well-disguised track variations to keep you interested. It's definitely worth a rental.