Review by JetDog

Reviewed: 06/30/03 | Updated: 06/30/03

How do you kill a solid arcade racer? Read on, pal!

I don't suppose a lot of people have played Cruis'n Exotica in the arcades, or paid any attention to the differences in the coin-op and N64 versions. I love the coin-op version. But I will admit that the gameplay is simple and pure arcade-style. The graphics and sound, however, with their speed and futuristic coolness, could give some gamers quite an enjoyable experience. You'd think that after the solid port of Cruis'n World, they'd only improve further on the game in every aspect. Well, not when Nintendo handed the console responsibilities over to Midway. Now it's time to learn how you can screw up an arcade racer and humiliate the designer! Won't this be fun?

The way I see it, there are two possibilties: Either Nintendo wanted the series dead because of its not-Nintendo-like simplicity, or the chief of Midway Home Entertainment was itching in his pants to distribute ports of all the arcade games as fast as possible, so that their role in the dwindling market would be overwith quickly. How long did the N64 developer, Gratuitous Games, take with the Cruis'n Exotica conversion? About 8 months, friend - and with no regard to the facts that
1) a good N64 game takes at least 18 months.
2) they should be making it for GameCube anyway.
And thus, it came to pass that what little reputation the Cruis'n series had was screwed over.

The arcade version's graphics were still chock full of 2D pop-ups and fade-in, but it blended in much better this time, with a blistering framerate of 60 fps. Effects included the shine on cars, lighting inside tunnels, and outrageous color on the fantasy tracks (Amazon, Mars, and Antlantis). Cars included big brands like Mustangs, Jeeps, and Vettes, with interchangeable paint schemes and an easter egg to make the driver's head big.
The N64 version's visuals feature inexcusable blurriness, badly-textured 2D pop-ups (is that a tree or an elephant?), no lighting, no color, no digitzized crowds at the finish, and cars that are quirkily stupid, instead of quirkily cool like its superior.

I'd like to bet that the coin-op Exotica had over 100 individual sounds and ambiences to illuminate the environments and gameplay. Well now...thanks to some random company, Riptide Music, the sound effects have been reduced to about a measly 38. Crashes, clunks, engines, horns, and everything else are exceedingly lame. Instead of the menu sounds 'cha-ching!,' 'ding,' 'bong,' 'drrizzyuwl,' 'dddinnn!,' 'drill,' 'drum,' 'zzowrt,' you've got 'dink,' 'doonk,' and 'vroom.'
'shoowowww!,' 'grzzwaht,' and 'ssszzle,' (am I crazy or what?), you've got 'dink,' 'doonk,' and 'vroom.' Very crummy, folks. And very irritating. You've still got most of the funky-cheesy music in there, but it's not like it helps.

Too easy. Much-much-too easy. Your car moves and slides so loosely, you'd think you were driving a greased slug. The stunts are also overly simple, seeing as you can control them in midair. Not in the arcades, man.
Oh, and did I mention? The radio feature takes a speedy 3 seconds to switch tunes! Look at the original game: You just press the radio button, and you got it right away. Darn Gratuitous programmers.

Geez! The way I ramble on about graphics and sound, you'd think I didn't give a pig's eye about a gameplay. Well, here goes...
Instead of earning cars by earning mileage, arcade version-style, your rewards are determined in a sheerly random way, as was the developer of this port.
For your modes, you've got Exotica (climb the proverbial ladder), Freestyle (go wherever), and Challenge (play the 60 so-called ''tracks''). Now Challenge, the one mode that supposedly sets this port apart from the original, is made up of the twelve arcade levels, re-segmented into short lap-based races that are often won by Nitro boosts you receive by doing moronic tricks.
Speaking of moronic tricks, let's look at our next category, shall we?

Or, How to Beat Korea with 16 Seconds off your time

The point of the N64 version is simply to flip off the other cars. I'm not kidding. I'd love to flip off the producer at Midway San Diego, but alas, this is all I can do.
There are three moronic tricks you can pull off:
the ''Super Flip,'' which you do by pulling a wheelie while jumping a ramp or colliding into another driver;
the ''Giant Heli,'' which you do by turning left or right just as you jump off a ramp;
and the ''Mondo Roll,'' which you do by swerving on two wheels, again, off a ramp.
You can win with the ''Super Flip'' alone, flipping off the other cars all the way to the finish line. Each flip is worth 1 second off your time, and the other two stunts are worth 2 seconds each. This explains the title of this category. Behold the genius!!!
Oh, by the way, you can beat the Hard difficulty in less than an hour.

Crud. Utter crud. Eugene Jarvis and his team of brilliant minds must be humiliated. Did you love the arcade game and the series truly-madly-deeply? Don't buy this one. Don't even rent it. You'll play it and then sacrifice yourself to the gods by jumping in a volcano. Or not. Just don't play this game, OK? Especially if you're a hardcore gamer. Got it? Good.

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

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