Cruisn Velocity

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Velocity cruisn


Midway's arcade racer continues on the GBA in this quirky but somewhat amusing portable creation.

By Craig Harris

More than a half decade ago, the original Cruis'n USA game was produced and marketed as a title that would eventually move to Nintendo's N64 game console, then named the Ultra 64. The series thrived enough to continue on the Nintendo 64 and in the arcades, with three games under the namesake. The fourth game in the series, Cruis'n Velocity, is a Game Boy Advance exclusive design developed by Graphic State Games, produced using the studio's proprietary 3D engine that was originally devised for its first-person shooter (Dark Arena set for release in January by Majesco). The engine works well to a degree, but it does suffer from some quirks that not only make the game look and play weird, but in rare cases the game just crashes mid-race...and that's not good for a final Game Boy Advance product.


14 tracks

11 vehicles

Link cable support for four players

Password save

Only for Game Boy Advance

Cruis'n Velocity is a race through 14 different tracks set in locations such as Las Vegas, Holland, Alaska...and even Mars. As you race through the game's three championship levels, you'll unlock more tracks and vehicles with which you can practice up your racing skills at any time...or against up to three buddies over the use of link cables.

The game's Doom-style engine helps the developers create a 3D-style game engine for the racing design, but it does seem to make the track layouts end up with more tunnels and canyons than you're used to in a driving game. The framerate remains at a smooth playable level, though it does tend to chunk-up in places when the geometry gets a bit more complex, with drop-offs or one-sided ledges and more than four cars on the screen at one time. Hills and jumps are represented by clumsy "staircases," which adds to the game's sense that you're just taking a car through a Doom level. The computer AI also tends to get confused on tracks like Holland when the roadway jumps over itself...if a car misses the jump, it tries to keep going in that direction regardless if there's a wall blocking its path. And that's where the crash bug comes into play...the race has frozen up on us a couple of times, both occurring when the computer AI was "confused." It doesn't happen often...but it happened twice too much to ignore, and yep, it happened on a final boxed copy of the game.

It feels decent overall, but the racing controls are laid out a bit thoughtlessly as the developer chose to institute a "turbo" function by double-tapping the accelerator. Since the tracks have a lot of winding and hairpin turns throughout the game, you're encouraged to let up on the gas so your car can maneuver better...and to be more efficient in speed, you'll need to "pump" the gas pedal as you move through the turn. Which means, you'll end up accidentally activating the turbo at the most inopportune time...and it's also very inconvenient since you're only given a set number of turbos in a race. The collisions are a bit annoying as well, since your car tends to lose a lot of speed if it taps a wall or another opponent...this should have been a bit more forgiving since you can't even lightly nudge any obstacle without the same effect.

The entire design of Cruis'n Velocity is very solid, but it doesn't really feel like a Cruis'n game at's not very "over the top" or "to the max" with "extreme" gameplay elements that the series is known for. Where's the exploding roadkill, or the crazy car crashes, or the wacky digitized crowd at the end of a race? The game features a sprinkling of jumps throughout the game's tracks, but nothing wild enough to make it a Cruis'n title.

Cruis'n Velocity is yet another Midway GBA product that begs to have a battery save in the cartridge, but the publisher instead saves the game's progress with a cumbersome password. Passwords just flat-out suck for portable games...and in racing games that could record best times on each track, or save earned cars or courses, a battery save is quite frankly a necessity to add more enjoyment to the overall package. A password is clunky and unfriendly...and one of these days publishers like Midway are going to need to wise up and offer more value to their relatively expensive $40 investment. It's just good customer service, darn it.

The Verdict

If the controls were tweaked a bit more, the collisions a bit more forgiving, if it didn't occasionally crash during play, and if it had a battery, Cruis'n Velocity would have been a very solid and recommended racing title for the GBA. The game is still somewhat enjoyable, but the faults are too big to ignore...and there are plenty of other racing games on the GBA more worth the playtime.


Cruis'n Velocity Released Nov. 28th, 2001

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