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Hot Wheels Turbo Racing
"This is a license perfectly suited to a racing game and it also brings a great deal of originality to the genre" Image Loading...
Developer: EA
Distributor: EA
Game Type: Racing
Review Date: Sept 99
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Setting the Scene:
      I remember hearing rumblings years ago about a possible 'Hot Wheels' title making it to a console system. Being a fan when I was younger I tracked the progress of this title with more than a little passing interest. While it was a great idea in princpal, I wondered how the hell they would possibly be able to re-capture all of those fun filled and imaginative hours spent with these toys by kids all over the world.

Well here we are a year later and as unbelievable as it may seem I am holding a Hot Wheels game in my hands getting ready to pop it into my Playstation. I figured if this game was done right it could have the makings for an awesome experience but if done wrong this sucker would crash and burn quicker than a plane flown by JF…nah, I won't go there.

For those of you that are completely in the dark, Hot Wheels are a bunch of die cast metal cars created by a company named Mattel. It seems that 7 Hot Wheels cars are sold every second of every day worldwide. Now that's a lot of freakin' metal cars. The cars come in all shapes and makes from souped up trucks and vans to outrageously customized cars that would make the Batmobile green with envy.

The cars, while not motorized, would travel on plastic orange tracks via gravity or propulsion houses that could be installed at crucial spots to keep the cars moving.

Track layouts could consist of anything from a simple oval to complex designs featuring loops, crossovers, jumps, zigzags and pretty much anything that your twisted little mind could come up with. The tracks themselves had little walls on each side that would hold your car on the track as long as they didn't hit a tight turn at any considerable speed. For the high speed turns you could install banked "Monza" tracks that would have 45-degree angles built into them that would tilt and hold your car in place.

There were tons of accessories that you could buy and eventually even additional track colors were offered like blue and red. The original cars are now worth a small fortune as are some of the earlier accessories.

I look back fondly on some of the classic match-ups that I had between Don Prudhomme's Snake and Tom McEwen's Mongoose. The Red Baron against just about everybody…and my favorite car of all The Nomad. Don't ask me why I liked that car so much…it was not very flashy, just a solid gold color…but it was rock steady on the tracks and would consistently eat the competition for lunch.

So as I inserted the disc into my Playstation I really looked forward to reliving all of those classic races with the cars that I loved so much. I just hope that the Nomad is in there somewhere….
Sound and Vision:
      Whoa!! Hot Wheels Turbo Racing has some balls to wall metal tunes!

The opening FMV totally kicks ass with Metallica's Fuel tune screaming through the speakers. The cars and tracks are outrageously detailed and presented. Great start to the game…

Jumping into the actual screens I was somewhat disappointed with the overall presentation though. The backgrounds and tracks mostly consist of flat shaded polygons drawn in rather gaudy colors. The tracks were bright yellow, navy blue, black, burnt red…basically a mish mash of color schemes inappropriately blending together. Don't get me wrong, the overall presentation was not overly offensive, it was just not what I expected or believe it could have been.

Image Loading...The cars on the other hand are very well modeled and accurately reflect their die cast metal counterparts. There was no mistaking one car from another and they certainly stood out nicely on the tracks.

The frame rate seemed a bit sluggish at first, but after driving around a bit I came to realize that the programmers have obviously tried to mimic how the cars would react in the REAL world.

There are also some graphical glitches that I feel have become almost too commonplace on Playstation racers; pop-up, polygon seaming and texture breakup when you get close to walls. Errrr.

Special effects consisted mostly of laser gates (to speed the cars along) and explosions.

The music in Hot Wheels TR is great if you like progressive rock (which I do). With bands like the Dirt Brothers & Primus, Metallica and Kelp, the music is wonderfully energetic and adds to the excitement of each and every race. You also have the option of selecting a specific song for your race and letting the program choose one randomly.

The sound effects are also pretty darn good. There are some great "swooshing" noises for your car as it slides along the "plastic" tracks and great effects are heard when your car shoots through a tube curl.

      Entering into the game you are presented with some menu choices. From here you can select your car, choose the track to race on (in exhibition and practice modes), choose from the races you want to participate in (Hot Wheels Cup, exhibition, Airtime Challenge, practice -normal or airtime-, and configuration options).

Image Loading...The Cup game plays out like a typical challenge mode. You have to complete six races and are awarded points for each race depending on what position you finished in. Rack up the highest total point count and you win the cup. This will open up another challenge…the Secret Cup Race, which consists of two races. Win that and you get to enter the brutal Twinmills Cup. This is a one race "winner take all" scenario where you basically get to drive and challenge the fastest car in the game - The Twinmill. In order to win at this cup you basically have to run a flawless race…no crashes, no hits, no wall scrapes, take every damn secret path you find and then cheat a bit on top of that.

Winning each cup race unlocks a bunch of cars and a few tracks as well. The game features a total of over 40 cars to race so you will have no shortage of vehicles to select from. You will also discover secret cars hidden on the tracks themselves. When you are lucky enough to see one, simply drive into it and it becomes yours at the end of that race.

Image Loading...A neat feature in HWTR is the stunts that your car can pull off. As you would expect in a Hot Wheels game, there are a lot of jumps and opportunities for your car to catch some serious air. While airborne you can manipulate your car to perform a series of aerial maneuvers such as spins, barrel rolls, flips and summersaults. In the Cup Mode each time you successfully pull off a stunt you get a turbo notch added to your turbo meter. Pull off a really hard stunt and you will get a few notches. In the Airtime Challenge you get awarded points.

The track designs in HWTR are pretty much what you would expect from a typical Hot Wheel setup…extreme drops and jumps, crazy loops and curves, and a ton of opportunities to smash into other cars. In addition you will also discover a slew of secret shortcuts to take that will throw you out into the lead if you manage to negotiate the track properly. Some areas can only be opened with 4 x 4 vehicles but once opened, can be driven by any other car. I found the tracks to be a very nice representation of the Hot Wheels theme and the physics accurately reflected what you would expect to happen in the real thing.

Image Loading...The real stars of the game of course are the cars, and with over 40 to ultimately choose from you won't soon be begging for more. Each car has its own specific characteristics. Some are extremely fast (the Twinmill being the fastest that I have seen) while others excel at performing stunts. Driving the bigger cars and trucks will enable you to crash into and explode other vehicles, but these tanks pull off stunts like shit. It really all comes down to what you are looking for in a particular race and you can always choose what you believe to be the best car for each track.

Handling your cars for the most part is rather easy since most of the track you are one has small walls (just like the real tracks) that prevent you from veering off into the scenery. Luckily there are enough open areas and forks in the road that you can take to keep you feeling like you are really in the game and not just a spectator. It is also beneficial to try to keep your car from scraping into the little walls, as this will reduce your speed. Add to that, the stunts that you are totally in control of, the secret paths to discover and you end up with a nice blend of action that should please most fans of the racing genre.

Image Loading...Overall I was not disappointed in Hot Wheels Turbo Racing. I believe that it was a wonderful idea to bring this legendary track racer to a videogame. Yes, there were a couple of things that could have been done better but you have to start somewhere. I just hope there's a sequel in the works that address some of the graphical shortcomings and overall sense of speed. A game like this would totally rock on the next gen Playstation.

Oh, I almost forgot…I still haven't found my Nomad car yet, but I believe that I have not unlocked all of the cars either, so I am still hopeful!!! Also, I enjoyed pitting the Snake against the Mongoose…ah, the classic rivalry is back.
Game Options:
      This is a single disk game for 1 -2 Players. It is compatible with the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).

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Staff Opinions  
Tom: "When I got Hot Wheels Turbo Racing I had to say to myself, "it's about friggin' time". I am surprised nobody ever thought of this sooner. This is a license perfectly suited to a racing game and it also brings a great deal of originality to the genre

The graphics, while being rather 'blah..!', work well once the game is in motion. The car models are detailed nicely and do the Hot Wheels name justice.

The music totally kicks ass and is a real strong motivator in the game as it will get your motor running so to speak.

For me this game really delivered a good deal of the thrills and excitement that I hoped a Hot Wheels would, but to be honest not everyone will like this title. It has relatively low (but steady) frame rates, minimal control when compared to other racers and it just seems to loose it's edge after a good deal of playtime.

Now let's see the next Hot Wheels game come out on the PS2 with the same (or better) opening FMV graphics in the actual GAME and I believe I would be in Hot Wheels nirvana! "
Graphics: 14/20
Playability: 43/50
Sound: 8/10
Lastability: 16/20
Overall: 81%
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