Roadsters is supposed to be the hot-rod fanatic's ultimate racing experience, as it exclusively features roadsters racing on tracks inspired by actual cruising routes traveled by hot-rodders all over North America. Instead, Roadsters ends up being an incredibly subpar racing experience, chock-full of unrealistic physics and poor control.
As you might have guessed from the name, the only cars available for you to race are roadsters. You get to pick a vehicle from a diverse section of hopped-up, road-eating, roofless automobiles and race it out on the open road. Roadsters tries very much to be an arcade-style racing game in the same vein as Cruis'n USA or Speed Devils, even down to the generic track design. However, extremely unrealistic physics and a difficult racing engine keep Roadsters from being an arcade racer of any merit, and the off-base premise of racing exclusively with roadsters doesn't help much either. Roadsters has a slew of different open-aired cars, some of which bear actual licenses and others of which bear a striking resemblance to real-life automobiles, with oddly similar names. If you're playing the game in the tournament mode, you'll actually have to buy your car - but that means it's yours to keep and modify as you see fit. Roadsters features a very simplistic modification system - you can usually only upgrade your engine once or twice, add a turbo or an exhaust, and play around with your suspension and gear settings. If you want endless tweaking possibilities, you will have to look elsewhere. Once you're satisfied with the condition of your car, you can get down to the actual racing. This is where the game takes a turn for the worse.
There are three racing classes in Roadsters. C class is the easiest and has the most unrealistic physics model; A class is the most difficult and has the most unforgiving physics; and B class falls - you guessed it - somewhere between the two. Still, none of the racing modes is particularly realistic. Since you're required to complete the different classes in order, you'll find that just when you've become comfortable with the game's unpredictable physics, they'll switch on you. It'll take most racers awhile to get used to a C class car's unnatural cornering ability - you'll find that brakes aren't necessary on any of the tracks. Then after a seemingly endless barrage of racing, the B class rips the rug out from under you and forces you to adapt to yet another unrealistic physics setting. And there's still one more class after that. Not only are the game's physics weak, but the collisions are just as bad. Hitting obstacles in this game is akin to a pinball hitting a bumper - you'll either bounce right off the object and progress along, or you'll come to a dead stop.All of the generic track elements found in just about every other arcade racing game are here. You've got the supersecret track that runs through a military base, the snowy track that winds its way through a mountain town, and the desert track that eventually runs through an Aztec temple. Fortunately, there are enough tracks to keep things at least mildly interesting. You'll have plenty of time to learn all the tracks, as you're usually forced to run five laps around each circuit. This makes the game seem unnecessarily long, and if you're in the lead, things get boring very quickly. On top of that, each tournament consists of six different tracks, most of which are repeated in subsequent tournaments. All of this boring racing makes progressing through the game a tiring process.
The graphics really do nothing to showcase the power of the Dreamcast. While the backgrounds of the tracks are usually fairly detailed, the car models and actual graphical details are weak. The fire found in some tracks is oddly colored and looks horrible, and while your car will leave tracks in the snow, other cars won't. Additionally, your driver doesn't move nearly as much as he did in the N64 version - no more fist waving or actually turning the wheel.
An assortment of generic techno music pulses through the game, from the in-game menus to the actual racing. While not particularly outstanding, it's at least not horrible. The sound effects, however, are a completely different bag. Your car will usually give off a horrible high-pitched whining tone, and ambient sound effects sound really bad. The game also has a barrage of taunts and comments from your driver that become repetitive and annoying rather quickly. Fortunately, you can at least turn down the speech volume in this version, a feature missing from the N64 game.
If you've got a friend interested in sharing the roadster experience, you can play multiplayer. But there aren't really any options - you simply choose a track and race it out. Instead of just racing it out against each other, you'll actually face a whole grid of racers. Unfortunately, because the frame rate suffers in the multiplayer mode, the racing becomes extremely choppy.
With games like Crazy Taxi and Speed Devils vying for your arcade-racing dollar, Roadsters falls way behind the pack, finishing somewhere in the "one-night rental" category. Totally unrealistic physics, generic track design, and a vehicle list devoid of anything but topless roadsters make this a game to be avoided by the casual arcade-racing fan.