A lesson in self-degradation

User Rating: 2 | Cruis'n WII
I hate most racing games. For whatever reason they've never particularly appealed to me, though there have been a couple exceptions (the fantastic Burnout Paradise and the Mario Kart franchise number among these). But of all the racing games I've played, Cruis'n has got to be the worst. It goes beyond being simply a boring game and crosses into the territory of a downright terrible game.

Everything about Cruis'n screams "cash-in!". From the terrible visuals to grating music to the dearth of courses, Cruis'n makes no attempt to hide its obvious status as an attempt to rip-off some money from the people foolish enough to be interested. Admittedly, the arcade game was a heck of a lot of fun (or at least it was five years ago when I last played it). But it doesn't translate well to a console title, largely because of a clear laziness on the part of the developers.

The bulk of your short time spent with Cruis'n will be wasted in Arcade mode. It's here that you'll select your favorite car and duke it out with 7 other computer-controlled racers on one of a measly 12 tracks. One-lap races, overly-difficult opponents, and instances of significant slowdown and graphical glitching keep these single-player races from being at all fun. Multiplayer is not at all better; it's made up of the same crap as the single-player races, and all the problems are still there.

As a racing title, Cruis'n stands out only thanks to its severe dearth of content. Twelve tracks and not many more vehicles are all you'll get access to, and aside from two very similar single-player modes and one multiplayer option, there's not a lot to do here. The title's driving mechanics are so incredibly stupid that unlocking new cars holds no appeal whatsoever; bone-crunching crashes with oncoming traffic have no effect aside from sending your car into a spin or two. When you take a jump and don't have enough speed to make it, you'll magically float across the chasm rather than fall as you clearly should. And the physics engine is absolutely stupid: 80% of the environment is destructible, so you don't need to worry about avoiding obstacles when you can just run them down.

As you work your way through this horrendous excuse for a game, you can't help but become a little ashamed. Cruis'n is, quite literally, a waste of time. It refuses to be fun, by yourself or even with others. It offers no redeeming qualities as a racing title and will be remembered only for offering such a half-baked, empty gaming experience.

And interestingly enough, while it's clearly geared toward casual gamers who have no idea what's a good game and what's not, Cruis'n is surprisingly difficult to pick up. The controls are tough to get a hang of, the user interface is absolutely horrendous, and the game is surprisingly difficult. Rival racers will take sharp turns at full speed and seem to be going noticeably faster than yourself. The title also has a mean streak and as soon as you get ahead of the pack, all your opponents get an ungodly burst of speed. It's absolutely infuriating -- and at the same time strangely hilarious -- to be using your boost and yet still be going slower than a racer just ahead of you.

Once you get past these problems and laugh at yourself at being hoodwinked, Cruis'n is absolutely hilarious. Helicopters with searchlights and police cars are the only non-racing vehicles around as you drive through the L.A. Ghetto. The title still contains those photographed women wearing tight, skimpy clothes standing at the starting line and cheering you on as you begin the race. And the visuals go beyond simply "bad" and instead I find myself amused looking at the colored boxes on-screen that are supposed to be considered cars. Cruis'n is entertaining for a short time -- but, embarrassingly enough for the developers, it's enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.

Get a kick out of Cruis'n and experience how not to make a Wii game, and try and play this title. Please: don't rent it, because Cruis'n is blatantly undeserving of the six bucks or spot on your Queue that it'll require. But if a little kid you babysit owns it and thinks it's the best game ever, entertain him and play it a little while. But when he sees you laughing, be sure to tell him that you just thought of a funny joke.

Cruis'n is embarrassing. It's an embarassment to Nintendo that they allowed this crap to get a spot on its system. Whatever happened to the Seal of Quality? It seems that in their effort to make the Wii appeal to more people, the Big N has sacrificed it's high standards that were a trademark of its earlier gaming days. It's embarrassing to play as well, because it doesn't take much to realize just how bad the game was made. Suppose you and a multiplayer friend are selecting your vehicle: make sure that you don't switch at the same time, because the game cant' handle that. Instead, you'll have to coordinate making your car, color, and stat selections because if you hit a button at the same time, the game won't register it.

Cruis'n is an ugly, glitchy, and valueless-game that you should only play if you possess the ability to make fun of it.