It's a harsh truth of the industry right now that, despite their popularity, there are more bad racing games than good ones. Unfortunately, Tomy's Speed Racer, a title that was released two years ago in Japan, joins the multitudes of lackluster racers that find their way onto store shelves.
No matter what time zone you're in, Speed Racer, based on the 60s cartoon series by the same name, features a star driver who mans a gimmick-laden race car called the Mach 5. All the signature Speed Racer characteristics are present and accounted for, letting fans of the show momentarily assemble a weak grin or muster a nod to the familiarity. But since nostalgia alone can't spell success, let's cut to the chase. Most of Speed's trick moves have a special function in the game - the autojack allows you to jump over obstacles to access a hidden path, the rotary saws (large circular blades that stick out from in front of the car) mow down any trees in the way, and so on. Unfortunately, since it's quite difficult to execute these tricks (imagine scrolling back and forth through a handful of options while paying attention to the road), they come off as something thrown in at the last minute and act as only a mild diversion instead of a very cool feature.
And with those few tricks being, essentially, the backbone of the game, it appears that instead of fleshing it out to its full potential, the developers took this moderately cool premise and dropped it into a preestablished mold found in half a dozen driving games. In fact, Speed Racer is probably best described as a poor man's Ridge Racer, albeit one with a few trademarked gizmos thrown into the mix to attempt to break up the monotony. It's a pretty standard racer that tries its darnedest to be everything that the rather old RR is and fails horribly. Even with the extra tricks that the Mach 5 car is composed of (grip tires, saw blades, night vision, and a super jump for example), there's no denying they are poorly implemented and fail to make the title entertaining or challenging for that matter.
Speed Racer's age shows in that it's missing nearly every cool feature added to driving games over the last two years, such as a large number of tracks (it has three, if you count alternate paths diverging off one main course), multiple cars (there are three other unlockable racers, including Racer X), varying weather conditions, neGcon support, and just about anything else you can think of. In short, it's incredibly dated, and unless you're overcome by the desire to drive through the rib cage of a dinosaur skeleton, you could pick just about any other racer off the shelf and have more fun.