Review: Mickey’s Speedway USA (N64)

By Drew Wilson

This is the first review that we hope will be a regular feature on Freezenet. We like to check out what is out there both old and new and offer our thoughts on how we did or didn’t like something. In our first review, we take a look at the N64 game “Mickey’s Speedway USA” for the gaming platform, the Nintendo 64.

Mickey’s Speedway USA is a racing game released at the end of 2000. The game revolves around the premise that the weasels have kidnapped Pluto for his collar. In order to rescue the famous dog, Mickey and his pals need to race fast to catch up to the bandits in their go-carts.

The game was released after major N64 hits such as Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Beetle Adventure Racing and a host of others that this game resembles. The game allows players to take part in tournaments which contains four races each. There is a total of five tournaments the player must complete with three available immediately and two more that needs to be unlocked. If the player manages to beat all tournaments in all three difficulties, a fourth difficulty (mirrored) becomes available. If the player manages to get first in every race in a tournament, the player will receive a platinum trophy instead of a gold trophy. The difficulty of this game can range from hardly challenging at all to infuriatingly difficult, so players of various skill levels will be able to feel challenged at some point during the course of the game.

The tracks themselves are based off of various locations in the United States such as Las Vegas, Hawaii, Philadelphia and New Orleans to name a few. Players can find themselves in numerous environments such as a winter wonderland, a desert, a marsh, in the sewers and on freeways.

Of course, this is where the parts that make the game sound good actually end. The game, according to Wikipedia, based off of the Diddy Kong Racing Engine, so it was destined to show a few similarities to previously successful video games. For those that have played various other racing games similar to this, it will become immediately obvious that there is hardly anything new this game really offers. Perhaps the only thing new this game ever did offer is the fact that drivers directly taunt each other during the course of each race.

While the taunting might be an improvement, the execution left a lot to be desired. It was as if the designers wanted every taunt, every line said when one passes each other, and every bump each racer goes over to be heard by the player. So, it’s like they created a queue system in the game itself so that if a whole lot of action happens all at once, each sound is played one after another. It is especially apparent when you are playing a track that has a few jumps along the way. While it’s a novelty at first to hear all the characters saying so much, the novelty quickly wears off and you are forced to try to ignore it all like the bad music you hear at a grocery store. In fact, some of the taunts don’t even resemble the characters that are saying them. Pete at points sounds more like Duff Man from the Simpsons with his “OH YEAH!” line while Goofy isn’t even recognizable when he asks politely “Is that you Mickey?” after Mickey hits him with something.

The music, meanwhile is hardly memorable. While it does the job of filling any void, the music doesn’t really do much beyond killing the audio gaps throughout the game. By the time I finished playing with this game, the only song I could vaguely remember was the one from the Everglades track and that was only because it reminded me of Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo when you drove through cocoa land tracks.

The weapons available are almost a re-branding of the weapons that were available in Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64. Instead of the missile, you had a baseball chucker. Instead of a homing missile, you had a tracer chaser. Instead of a star from Mario Kart, you got a Shield Shell. Push down with the baseball chucker and you could drop one behind you like a single green shell from Mario Kart 64.

What makes this game also unmemorable were the tracks themselves. In a number of tracks, a decent run through will allow you to complete each track in less than two to three minutes (in some cases, under a minute). This made it particularly difficult to really immerse yourself in the track itself because by the time you’ve really remembered how to handle most of the curves, you’ve already cleared most of the difficulties anyway.

One part of the game that really made no sense is the inclusion of a convoluted computer system. If you earn something or if the weasels decide to send you a “post card” on it (uh, what?), you have to sit through a weird sequence that, to my knowledge, you can’t skip. This ultimately ate up game play time and offered next to nothing of any added value to the game itself. If I had to pick one thing this game could dispose of, it’s the inclusion of those 2D computer sequences. Just throw up a simple message where needed and be done with it.

Te graphics, when compared to other games at the time, leaves a lot to be desired. Since Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Beetle Adventure Racing and even Destruction Derby 64 had already been released, this game seemed like a major step backwards. The only bright spot would be the championship win sequence which incorporates a little glitter and good keyframeing, but that seemed to be the pinnacle of graphics as they went right back to the standard 2D cartoon graphics throughout the rest of the game.

Overall, this game tries to take a lot of good features in other previous racing games, but in the end, it was just something just slapped together with the seeming hope to make a fast buck off of the recognizability of Mickey Mouse and his friends. If this game was something you intended on trying, but never got around to it, there’s a good reason why. It’s not that great of a racing game and there are plenty of other great racing games on the system that will give you a better bang for your buck.

Overall
Furthest point made it in game: Unlocked all characters and championships. Unlocked all races including the 21st track. Unlocked mirror mode, but didn’t bother playing that difficulty.

General gameplay: 6/25
Replay Value: 0/10
Graphics: 4/10
Audio: 2/5
Overall Score: 24%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85


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