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A.P.I Review: Running Wild
Developer: 989 Studios OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1-2 Player
Game Type: Racing Memory Card
Review Date: April 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

From the producer of Crash Bandicoot and Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, comes a racing game with a difference. In the past, on Playstation format, you most probably have experienced many motor car racing games. You may also have enjoyed several motor bike, remote controlled buggy, skiing, push bike, helicopter, jet-ski, powerboat, jet plane and horse racing titles.

Running Wild could be your first opportunity to take part in a two legged race where contestants speed up and slow down by accelerating and braking using a control system normally reserved for driving titles.

There are six challenging obstacle courses with six crazy characters. Tons of magical power-ups create special powers and abilities to give you a competitive edge over your fellow species.

Sound & Vision

Before a race begins the player must select their character from a wild and wacky bunch. First up there is Brazz the Zebra who is wrapped in skin-tight slacks, a very fashionable jacket and sports the most marvelous black and white stripped Mohican hair style you could ever imagine. As you summon up the next character they appear on the screen in a lively fashion by displacing the previous selection with a vicious flying kick. The remaining contestants include a rip-roaring Bull, a charging Elephant, a sleek Panda, a shapely Rabbit and a mighty Moose.

The camera pans the field as the countdown begins but once the race starts the view settles for the third person perspective, slightly up and behind the runner. The track is about as wide as a standard car racing circuit and the contestants are hemmed in by surrounding walls. Occasionally these may be scaled to reveal a short-cut or a wealth of power-ups and goodies.

The scenery is constructed entirely from smooth polygons and is designed in a style that relates to the venue. There are also many hazards at which the contestants react accordingly. For example the Arctic track is covered in snow and slippery ice rinks, The Desert has cacti hurdles, the Volcano spits fiery balls of flame while the City circuit takes the race down into the gungy sewers below town.

The music and sound effects take on a style normally reserved for animated cartoons. An announcer who counts down the start of a race and throws in the odd 'enthralling' comment such as "Looking Good!", "Your Cruisin'!" and "Your Motorin'!" There are a few standard noises offered when power-ups are collected.

Playability

Running Wild offers a fresh alternative from the frantic push button mayhem of Olympic Games and Track & Field. With Rollcage we recently experienced Wipeout on wheels, now enjoy Wipeout on legs.

Okay, okay... so that may be a little over the top but there are a few similarities to the Psygnosis classic. For example the racing surface has many speed up arrows embedded into the ground, which if crossed gives a sudden burst of acceleration. Also littered around each circuit are a wealth of power ups such as Ghost (become semi-transparent and float through solid objects), Fly (obvious) and Super Turbo boosts (yawn!). Attack Power-ups offer the ability to assault your opponent and slow them down. These include the 'ice bomb' which turns opponents playfield into a sheet of slippery ice, or the 'small bomb' which shrinks their character and makes them difficult to control.

Each character has their own individual attributes spread across speed, power, agility, turning and jumping ability. Jumping is an essential technique used to hurdle pits, rivers of lava and various hurdles. You can even jump onto an opponents head to slow them down.

Challenge, Practice, Time Trials, Circuit and Multi-player game modes are basically a selection of single races and league tables between four and six contestants. Laps of the circuit can be set between 1 to 9.

Control could not be easier with face buttons configured to run, jump and attack. There is even an Autorun feature that saves you holding down the run button, allowing you to concentrate purely on getting the jumps correct. At the end of each race tips are offered during loading times.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: 16/20 The problem with Running Wild is that the emphasis seems to be firmly pointed towards everything being so easy.
The controls are simplistic, even without the Autorun feature switched on.
The circuits are fairly short and can be learned in a couple of races.
The characters can be mastered quickly.
While the power-ups are hardly worth the effort collecting.

As a multi-player game Running Wild will keep you occupied for a couple of sessions, but as a single player game it's difficult to know just what age range it is being targeted towards. Under tens perhaps?
SOUND: 5/10
PLAYABILITY: 39/50
VALUE: 10/20
OVERALL 70%

 

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