I know what youâ€™re thinking, and believe me, I know. Has there ever been a video game based on a movie thatâ€™s actually any good? (Could be an interesting forums talking point, now I think of it.) Iâ€™ve always felt quite let down with most movie-inspired games; they usually only boast a tenuous link to their related film - either by trying to take you past the point where the movie in question had ended, or else forcing you to relive the events of the film, over and over again. Thereâ€™s no surprise, no â€˜woahâ€™ moment - after all, youâ€™ve just seen the movie, right?
Enter Speed Racer: The Video Game. What I admire about this title is that it focuses purely on the most obvious aspect of the movie: the racing. Thereâ€™s no forced sequences from the film, stupid storyline to try and balance out the racing bits; just cool racing and heaps of trash talk.
Donâ€™t get the wrong idea, this isnâ€™t Gran Turismo weâ€™re talking about here. Speed Racer is silly and colourful (leave your psychedelic drugs behind for this one), and filled with some very fun stunt racing. It follows the basic formula for a racing game: several modes of play for single and multiplayer (single race, tutorial, time trial, championship and split screen multiplayer - only two people, mind), different classes of race and unlockable characters.
The racing itself can get quite samey, I suppose, once you master all of the different stunts and car-fu moves, which help you take out your opponents. Still, thereâ€™s plenty of fun to be had with the tail toss, boost bash, smack downs, round houses and torpedos you can pull off.
Once youâ€™ve learned these, then itâ€™s time to put them into practice, along with different strategic methods of driving, like slipstreaming behind your rival, or grinding along the edge of the track, in order to better jump on to another car.
Another interesting element to the game is the ability to form aliances with other players. In championship races, your allies can help you out by performing car-fu on your rivals; but if you car-fu an ally yourself, you can get penalties, and if you destroy their car, the alliance is considered null and void.
After this, it really is a matter of unlocking different characters and racetracks, which isnâ€™t so different from other racing games out there. Yes, the gameplay mechanics are pretty straightforward when you compare them to other racing games, but at the same time I canâ€™t say Iâ€™ve had more genuine fun playing a movie spin-off for a good long while. I guess Iâ€™d say itâ€™s comparable to Wipeout, which was another I found was quite fun and flowy despite its simplicity.
As with any game, there are a few minuses experienced along the way, a lack of variety being the main culprit. The car mechanics can be frustrating from time to time - and the peripheral graphics (aside from the action on the track) left a bit to be desired.
All up though, Speed Racer is colourful, funny, has good music and the graphics still hold up on the aging PS2. In fact, I would go so far as to say Speed Racer makes a much better game than it does a movie.