I love getting new games. When you're truly excited about a new game, you can actually feel your bottom lip tremble as you gingerly peel back the shrink wrap. If you're like me, you may even give the new game a little whiff before you pull the disc out of the case and place it in your game console.
Needless to say, Wacky Races: Crash and Dash for the Wii provided no such experience.
Playing a game from a licence that has been dormant since the '70s probably didn't provide much excitement to anyone except the 45-year-old Wii owner who is nostalgic for their Saturday morning cartoons. A staggeringly large market demographic I'm sure.
You know, I could certainly see past the whole dead licence thing if the game was fun to play, but let me assure you, this game is about as fun a root canal performed by Carrot Top. Let's not mince words here, Wacky Races for the Wii sucks. Hard.
Where did Wacky Races go so wrong? Well, thanks to several awkward and baffling design choices, this is probably the most boring racing game I have ever played. Instead of a behind the back third person view or a first person view like most racing games, the camera scrolls with the pack and changes angles with the turns. Since the camera follows the pack, the game will actually instantly respawn you amongst the pack whenever you crash. This means that you're never more than a second behind the pack leaders.
Did I mention the game doesn't have an acceleration button? Or brakes for that matter. Let that sink in for a moment. A racing game. Without an acceleration button. What's next? A Mario game without a jump button? Whose idea was this? All that's needed to navigate the repetitive tracks is simply to tilt the analog stick in the direction you want your racer to go. If you want a speed boost, you can shake the Wii-mote until your arm falls off, upon which the whole pack will catch back up with you.
Perhaps sensing that the actual racing was as dull as the grey slush under the tires of my car, the designers tried to jazz up the proceedings in two ways. One, they've added the ability to use items. The items do things like turning your car into a rocket, getting a dragon to pick you up, or rolling a bowling ball to knock your opponents out of the way. These items almost all require you to flail your arms around too, which means you can essentially ignore the items, because the computer racers will catch right back up with you as soon as your item wears off.
As lame as the items are, they amount to a whole lot of fun compared to the atrocious mid-race minigames. Just like on the show, Dick Dastardly and his yellow mutt will layout a trap for the rest of the racers instead of using his ridiculous lead in the race and actually just win it. Believe it or not, the game will actually load a cutscene midrace, slap a half-minute long loading screen in your face, then force you to play a minigame that is either brain-dead easy or flat out broken. Most have you doing things like tracing a line on a thin piece of track, driving around to make the biggest dust cloud, or avoiding some slow falling boulders. On the other end of the spectrum, there's a boat rowing minigame that is simply impossible to control. These minigames occur twice every race. Considering that the penalty for failing one of these exciting excursions is non-existent, I simply took these opportunities to flip through the nearest magazine or check the score of the hockey game.
Best of all, everything you've done in the several minutes leading up to the stretch run is rendered entirely moot by the finale of the race, which puts everyone on an even playing field. That's right, you didn't need to steer, flail your arms like a moron, or even bother looking at the TV until this final segment. The winner of the race is determined by a combination of who can flail their arms the fastest and a few items collected along the way. By the way, you're bound to collect a few by accident even if you don't touch the controller throughout the race. Every race turns out to be a photo finish, so even making your arm spasm like E. Honda doesn't guarantee a victory.
Even if you somehow find the racing enjoyable, the lack of modes will bore you to tears faster than you can drop the game through the return slot at your local rental store. There is an option for a circuit race that puts you through four identical tracks in a row, or a single race for a shorter bout of masochism. Succeed in the circuit races and you'll unlock further identical tracks with a palette swap.
For the sadomasochists reading this, there is four player multiplayer as well. Be careful though, arming three friends with Wii-motes and sitting them down to play this game can result in damaged remotes and nunchucks lodged in your eye cavities.
As if it really mattered, the graphical package completes the symphony of crap on display. Textures? Who needs textures? All of the racers lack detail and track variety is nearly non-existent. Swapping an ice texture for a dirt texture on a different track doesn't qualify as actual effort, its reeks of lazy production. Animation is nearly non-existent, and considering how bunched together all the racers are anyway, Wacky Races represents a jumbled mess of visual puke. At least the video clips used in midrace look sharp…
As far as the audio goes… Let's just say it maintains the level of quality expected from the rest of the package. The music is the same generic music you've heard in every kart racer since 1992. The sound effects are tinny, and the announcer is repetitive and annoying.
Let's say for argument's sake that you're the most die-hard fan of Wacky Races of all time. You have the entire forgotten series on DVD, and you still sleep in Wacky Races sheets. Maybe, just maybe, you'll get ten minutes of nostalgic enjoyment before removing the game from your Wii forever in favour of essentially any other game available of the system. Wacky Races is a repetitive, annoying, and awfully shallow experience that is neither worthy of your time, money, or even consideration. The mere fact that you've read this review all the way to the bottom is the most attention you should ever give this travesty. Avoid this game like you would that girl in the eight grade who used to pick her nose and munch on the contents.