Speed Racer returns to gaming

Warner Bros. and Sidhe Interactive prepping Wii, DS, and PS2 adaptations of Wachowski brothers' upcoming film; game to be part of company's plans to drastically increase development.

The new version of the Mach 5, Speed Racer's ride.
The new version of the Mach 5, Speed Racer's ride.

Ever since 1998's Speed Racer for the original PlayStation crashed and burned, the classic anime series has been absent from the North American gaming scene. That's going to change next year, as Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today announced that it is developing Speed Racer games for the Wii, DS, and PlayStation 2, all based on Larry and Andy Wachowski's upcoming feature film based on the franchise.

As one might expect, the game will put players in the driver's seat of the film's garage of combat-ready rides and see how they fare in "car-fu style" action. The console editions of the game will be developed by New Zealand-based studio Sidhe Interactive. No stranger to the notion of cars with unusual abilities, Sidhe was the studio behind the racing/platforming/puzzle game GripShift for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3.

The Wachowskis are providing assets and direction to the development team, and one of the film's visual effects supervisors is also working with the studio to ensure a faithful adaptation of the film. There's no word yet on whether the film's cast will be lending their likenesses and voices to the project. The star-studded ensemble includes Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog) as Speed, as well as Matthew Fox (Lost), Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan, The Addams Family), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, Rocky Horror Picture Show), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Blues Brothers 2000), and Richard Roundtree (Shaft, Corky Romano).

The Wii and DS games will be available next year alongside the theatrical release of Speed Racer. The PlayStation 2 edition will follow and be timed to coincide with the DVD release of the film.

Gamers can expect to hear more from Warner Bros. on a regular basis. According to a report in Develop, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is in the midst of ramping up its development efforts. The publisher told the magazine that it is looking to produce up to six times more games than normal in the next five years. Helping it achieve that mark will be WB Games, a new studio being established near Seattle, Washington.

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