Though many driving games for the PC try to be realistic simulations, there's always room for a game that bucks the trend and offers off-the-wall but fun and challenging gameplay. Woody Woodpecker Racing intends to be such a game: It tries to capitalize on the popularity of other similar arcade-like driving games by offering simplified driving physics, various cartoonlike weapons for taking out other drivers, and zany tracks that fit the overall theme of the game. Yet while Woody Woodpecker Racing does follow this basic formula, it fails to properly execute any of the core aspects of it. And because of its many frustrating features, the game will deliver a decidedly poor racing experience for both veteran and rookie go-kart drivers.
At the start of Woody Woodpecker Racing, you have access to four modes--quest mode, world championship mode, time-trial mode, and single-race mode. In the quest mode you can unlock additional characters and tracks based on your race performance, while the world championship mode gives you a score based on how you finish in each race; that is, the character with the most points at the end of the championship wins. The last two modes essentially serve as practice--you can learn the layout of each track and where any obstacles are located. All of these modes are standard for this type of game, but Woody Woodpecker tries to add more replay value with its hidden characters and tracks. However, since the gameplay has so many problems, you might have trouble justifying the effort to unlock the hidden items.
Once you select a mode and driver from the list--which includes popular characters like Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy--you proceed to the actual race. The controls for the race are really basic; acceleration, breaking, and jumping turns (where you jump going into a turn for sharper cornering) serve as the primary actions. But regardless of how basic the controls are, it's actually quite difficult to maneuver your driver in an effective manner because of the poor responsiveness of the controls and the game's bad track design. When you press left or right on the keypad or your controller, you don't actually get the sense that your driver is turning in either direction because the control is so sluggish. This becomes especially problematic on the off-road racing track where precise turns are absolutely necessary for avoiding objects, such as giant boulders. Even on one of the simple oval tracks, there are many occasions when it looks like you can make the turn, but because the control isn't as precise as it should be, you end up slamming into the wall. Jumping into turns helps remedy this problem slightly, but again, the sluggish controls often force you to overcompensate and collide with an obstacle on the track.
In Woody Woodpecker Racing, you can also use a standard attack where your driver swings a weapon out toward either side of the car, causing the other driver to stop if you make contact. There are also a number of special weapons that are obtained by running over item boxes located around the track, and some of these items are much more useful than others. Most of the less helpful items are just simple projectiles that have very little chance of actually hitting another driver, but there are other items that either automatically track other drivers or do universal damage to everyone on the track. Though you may have problems hitting other drivers with the different weapons, the computer has no such trouble. Nearly every time a computer opponent is near you, it is able to hit you immediately with either the default attack or with one of the special items. You may have trouble even finishing a race in some cases since you're constantly being bombarded with enemy attacks, which cause you to lose hot dogs--basically your life force--with each successive hit.
The game's graphics are poor even by the low standards for PlayStation-to-PC translations, and graphical glitches make the presentation all the worse. Aside from a remix of the familiar Woody Woodpecker theme song at the beginning of the game, the music and sound in the game aren't anything special, either. A few of the songs are reused multiple times for different tracks, which makes them start to get annoying after just a few racing sessions.
The biggest problem with Woody Woodpecker Racing is that it's just not fun. The computer constantly cheats by either receiving mysterious speed boosts or hitting you with perfectly timed attacks before you cross the finish. The already sluggish controls are made worse by the annoying track design where even the simple oval tracks are difficult to get through without colliding with some object on the side of the track other than the wall. And since there isn't even a multiplayer option in the game, there really isn't a suitable reason to buy or to play Woody Woodpecker Racing.