Pocket Racers Review

Every now and again a game comes along that changes all the rules and challenges all conventions. This game is the complete and utter opposite of that. However, it’s not completely bad — just mostly. Coming straight from the pages of classics such as Monster in My Pocket and Micro Machines, this game is betting that everything is cooler when it’s tiny. And while it does a few things differently, it all feels very familiar in so many ways.

You start off with the laughable ‘plot’,’ which actually did make me laugh. You and your sports/prototype car collecting buddies are getting smashed at a kick-ass party, when the green be-speckled automobile fanatic Grim-Reaper shows up and turns you and your friends into tiny versions of their cars! Now you must race for their souls and finally for your own, to save you and your friends from being tiny soul-cars… Yeah, I’m not making this up — you’re tiny cars that have souls racing for your existence. I haven’t seen a plot this ridiculous since that time they tried to write a back-story for Tetris. I’m not saying the plot is extremely bad, there just isn’t one really, just a 5 line explanation for a game.

So along with the riveting Reaper Re-po man plot, what is this game? You’re a tiny car in a house racing around such glorious locations as "The Kitchen" and "The Living Room." At its core it’s a simple, straightforward combat racer along the lines of Twisted Metal, but with no memorable characters, weapons, courses or plot. Graphically speaking, this game is somewhere along the lines of a Game-Boy Advance title, which would be fine if it wasn’t on the PSP. Cursed with jagged aliasing on every surface, sub-par textures, uninteresting cars and an overall lack of graphical polish, this game feels like it left the factory while it was still in it infancy stage.

Okay, so the graphics are bad and the plot is in critical condition. Well, what’s left to enjoy? You’ll be rather surprised that the game itself does offer a little bit of fun. The dead-simple driving mechanics, simple weapons and easy to follow tracks all allow for a very "Pick up and Play" experience. You need no training to immediately start playing and in all likelihood will be winning race after race. Not much challenge is served up here, but if you’re under 10 or love the feel of dominating the weak, you may enjoy ripping through this game. On another positive note, bypassing high-res graphics and serving up dismally linear levels allows for almost no load-times; this is one of the fastest loading PSP games you’ll find on the console. You leap from menu to gameplay with hardly a hiccup, which is a nice change of pace.

You can eventually change up cars that handle and accelerate differently, but there seems to be little point to it unless it’s just fitting your style. The game isn’t terribly hard by anyone’s standards. You’re also given weapons and power-ups throughout each level, like missiles, freeze ray, nitro, etc. However, you’ll quickly find out that these are little more than a distraction. The awful button layout makes it difficult to fire a weapon, much less target something. Most of the weapons are auto-tracking and require no skill whatsoever to use. You simply pick them up and fire as you go, hoping it will create a gap for you to overtake the next crippled AI opponent. You can go multiplayer with this mess, but it will be difficult to find friends as un-discerning as yourself who also bought this game.

Perhaps I’m being a little hard on Pocket Racers as it’s the first incredibly intuitive and fast-loading PSP racer on the market. But the severe graphical flaws, uninspired tracks (which resemble going through a dumbed down level of Katamari Damacy) and a plot that could have been written by a catatonic 4-year old makes this game fun for only the most passive or youngest player. If your kid brother is the only one that plays your PSP, you might want to pick up this title cheap for the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being too hard on this game — it should definitely be offered as a mini-game to play while real games load.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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