Review by StingX2
"This game is so bad EVEN the AI quits playing!"
We have all heard of Cartoon Network, the year round all cartoon and anime television channel. We've also all heard of a battle-racing series called 'Super Mario Kart'. Cartoon Network Speedway attempts to capture that Super Mario Kart feel with a theme of its own networks stars. Most clones fall short, never quite grasping the full concept or don't even attempt to try at all. This one doesn't even come close to glory.
GAMEPLAY - 5.0/10
As said in the intro Speedway comes down to being a racing game with items to attack your opponents with. A simple yet loved concept that sadly translates into a complete mess in this title. You have to imagine some effort was given into this game with all the options and play time they give you, but it is really hard to believe it.
As per usual with the Mario Kart clones, there are 8 racers in every race. There are also 5 championship cups with 4 races apiece, to win these you simply must do well enough in races to earn points. The racers with the most points take home the gold, silver or bronze.
The tracks in Speedway are more of the same thing, although the championship sets will have you race on 20 tracks...most are just repeats. In a lazy job they simply themed most racetracks with winter, scary, spring, and earthly as themes to 'mix' up the tracks. Its an odder choice that they sometimes line up this tracks back to back making it extremely evident. The tracks aren't that bad, they just run their course after racing the same track multiple times in a row.
The controls found in Speedway, are just wonderful at least for this game. Your gas button is very responsive, as is the brake you'll literally never use. A nice edit to the common awful jump found in Mario Kart games is replaced with a very useful jump. Imagine an actual useful jump for jumping over racers, hazards and anything else that might slow you down. A surprisingly good move as well is the turning controls allowing you to make any necessary turn, which is why the brake is completely useless.
The real shame with Speedway is nothing will challenge you even remotely in these sets of races unless you let go of the gas button. The AI in Speedway is just that bad, its not that their slow or a human can easily abuse them in every race, its just that the computer races don't even show up. In a lot of races the computer races will drive in circles endlessly, or into walls, or just vanish from the track all together. Speedway takes easy game to new levels because of the poorly programmed AI.
Though fear not, if racing yourself gets dull there are other things to compete for. The real heart of the game oddly enough comes in its challenge mode where you must race well enough and collect tokens to rack up high scores. It gives the game a much needed difficulty that otherwise makes this a title to avoid completely.
Sadly there is of course more bad news to report, as the programmers couldn't even program the races right! During some races such as the Haunted Speedway and the Construction Race you'll be told your going the "WRONG WAY" and that you're losing very badly. What triggers this is really baffling considering it goes away after you clear a lap only to come back halfway through the next one. While it may have been a good prank, it wasn't intentional and really can get annoying.
GRAPHICS - 8.0/10
In parts the graphics found in Speedway are more blessing than torture. Some stages feel ripped out of the Super Nintendo Mario Kart, others feel ripped from a cartoon, and some are just out there. The Tracks as a whole are well done in appearance; its just what's littered in them and on your screen is the real problem.
Around most Battle Racing type games there are usually hazards around the track, mostly on the offroad portions of the track to discourage you from driving there. Speedway adapts this well since the ugly blob graphics used to represent popcorn or streetlights and the countless unrecognizable hazards make you want to steer clear of going offroad for anything.
Here's a real shock for you; the Audio in Speedway is actually very good. All of the sound effects sound just like a cartoon, the obvious aim here. The real seller of the audio is the soundtrack, which sounds extremely similar to Diddy Kong Racing. It's almost like a gift for sitting through races against inept computer racers.
REPLAY VALUE 5.0/10
If there is any replay value to be found in this game it would have to come from challenge mode. Though even that is a stretch in its own right. Speedway gives you that one time joy ride, which you never want to touch again and wish you never took in the first place.
OVERALL - 5.8/10
Cartoon Network Speedway is a definite game to avoid no matter what age you are. To buy this game would seriously be an insult to any child after playing it. Mario Kart Clones can border on masterpieces and disasters and this one might be the worst out there. A lot of promise is just wasted away and its very hard to believe any effort was put into the shoddy outcome this game gives you.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/16/06
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