Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All

foe_en_s4_b22.jpg

Cruis'n USA (Nintendo 64) artwork

Cruis'n USA (Nintendo 64) review


"Cruisin' USA is essentially Rad Racer in actual 3D. That might not sound so bad at first, after all Rad Racer is a beloved classic by many, but unfortunately the days in which a game could appeal to people just by being a racing game have long since passed, and players have grown to expect some semblance of aptitude and originality in the titles they purchase. "



Cruisin' USA is essentially Rad Racer in actual 3D. That might not sound so bad at first, after all Rad Racer is a beloved classic by many, but unfortunately the days in which a game could appeal to people just by being a racing game have long since passed, and players have grown to expect some semblance of aptitude and originality in the titles they purchase.

In Cruisn USA, the player holds down the gas button, uses the control stick to move, and avoids cars. While this paraphrase might sound unfair – after all, it could be applied equally to almost any racing game – there is literally no other subtlety to be found here. There's no drifting, no secret paths, negligible difference between vehicles, and nothing else that might potentially contaminate the aforementioned formula with skill. You need to get to each check point before time runs out, then come in first place. The difficulty of this task can vary considerably due to a tightly wound rubber band connecting the AI controlled vehicles to your rear bumper.

Playing through the Cruisin' mode will take you through all ten courses consecutively, which is supposed to represent a trip from one side of the United States to the other. Now, being an American myself I am partly familiar with some of the source material, and I would like to let potential tourists know that our country does not look this stupid. You will not see cardboard trees, distant land features popping up in front of you, and repeating scenery if you stop by our country for a visit. On one course I actually counted how many times I passed a specific house: five times. In that same level I also crossed the same bridge three times and went through the same toll booth twice.

All of the levels feel pretty much the same, with the only major differences being the width of the roads and the type of scenery that will repeat itself. The pop-up of distant objects can be a real nuisance, since some of those objects are cars that happen to be in your way. If one recalls the rubber band AI, it should be apparent that crashing into a car that appeared out of thin air and dropping from first to fifth place in front of the finish line is an entirely common occurrence.

If you do happen to win a race, you will be rewarded with a pixellated woman dancing with a trophy; if you win every race, you will unlock new cars palette swaps of the four cars you already have that go slightly faster. If that doesn't sound like much of an incentive to keep playing, that's because it isn't. You could always race by yourself, just in case driving through freaking Iowa was so exciting that you simply need to experience it again.

I would be remiss to review Cruisn' USA without a word about its soundtrack: atrocious.

This is the type of game you pick up for $1 at a flea market, play for five minutes, then shelve in favor of something fun, like pretty much anything else. I can think of at least half a dozen racing games just for the N64 that are leagues ahead of Cruisn' USA, and many more if other platforms are included. While this game might have been a launch title, that doesn't really excuse its half-assed and obviously lazy design. I haven't played the original arcade version, so I cannot say if this game is a bad port of a mediocre game or a mediocre port of a bad game, but it is worth pointing out that any developer that thinks that it would be a good idea to make a game that involves driving through Iowa is clearly incompetent.

Rating: 4/10

dagoss's avatar
Community review by dagoss (August 15, 2008)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by dagoss
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy) artwork
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)

Wario is probably more clever and original than the series from which he derived.
Jeopardy! (NES) artwork
Jeopardy! (NES)

This isn't You Don't Know Jack for the NES; it's hang man with trivia questions.
Millipede (NES) artwork
Millipede (NES)

This is an arcade port done right, adapted to the target platform's strength and limitations rather than simply making the assembly code run.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Cruis'n USA review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
Masters posted August 15, 2008:

Good review. I especially liked the crossed out "new cars" bit, and your one-word impression of the soundtrack.

One thing though:

"While this might sound unfair – after all, that epitomizes almost every racing game..."

Did you mean "epitomize"?
board icon
dagoss posted August 15, 2008:

Thanks for the compliments.

Did you mean "epitomize"?

Pronoun confusion. What I have is correct ("that" is a pronoun referring to the summary in the previous sentence, which would be singular), but I will revise it so that it is clearer.
board icon
Masters posted August 15, 2008:

No, no. I'm the one not being clear. What I meant was, is 'epitomize' the right word, rather than something like 'describe'?

If you're confident about it, feel free to ignore my two-and-a-half cents.
board icon
dagoss posted August 15, 2008:

When I revised it based on my misunderstanding of what you meant, I inadvertently corrected what you really meant. Go me!
board icon
Masters posted August 15, 2008:

Ha, nice. I just checked it out; it reads quite perfectly now.
board icon
Felix_Arabia posted August 15, 2008:

I agree with Masters, this is a pretty good review. I was planning on doing this game, like, today, but now I think I may wait and do something else instead.
board icon
drella posted June 30, 2009:

I spotted some inaccuracies:

There's… …negligible difference between vehicles,

This is incorrect; beating the game on difficulties 1, 3 and 5 release superior updates of the current car, and the speed is noticeably faster in game. Granted, there is barely any difference between any of the four starter cars, but there are huge difference between the upgrades and those starters. You downplay the speed difference later on; the truth is, I'm playing through this currently, and I'm completing races that take under two minutes an average of five to ten seconds faster with the third tier than the second. It's a very real difference in speed. I'm stoked to test my reflexes with the fourth tier cars even if the graphics are atrocious.

The difficulty of this task can vary considerably due to a tightly wound rubber band connecting the AI controlled vehicles to your rear bumper.

This isn’t true either. Cruis’n USA has no rubber band AI (at least against you); if you can’t pull away from racers, it’s probably because you don’t have a car appropriate for that difficulty setting (or they caught up fair and square). Maybe things are different on difficulty 5 (Update: just beat it. they're not), but it's certainly not true for 1 or 3. My understanding is you're racing against cars that are just as fast/faster until you unlock the next tier; that's not rubber band AI.

The game does have rubber band AI that I've seen; it doesn’t let other racers get too far ahead of you if you do poorly. But I’ve pulled away time and again, especially after accidents bring down the front car or just from having a superior car, and I’ve never had anyone catch up despite crashes near the end unless it seemed plausible. (Update: The game even reports split times so you can measure your lead). You didn't play this enough before passing judgment here; see Mario Kart 64 for real rubber band AI on the console, not this.

Playing through the Cruisin' mode will take you through all ten courses consecutively,

There are fourteen courses.
board icon
dagoss posted June 30, 2009:

You misunderstood what I said about the cars. There is a huge difference in the car "levels" (the different colours). I meant that there was little difference between the different cars, (eg the sporty looking car or the one that looks all gangsta -- obviously I know nothing about cars).

As for the rubber band AI, I will admit that I wrote this review largely from memory. I came home after a really bad day and wanted to take it out on a game, and that is exactly what I did.
board icon
drella posted June 30, 2009:

Otherwise you made a lot of great, valid points (this isn't a good game, and it -is- a bad port). I think I had more fun with Cruis'n, so expect a review at some point soon, but I can't really disagree with the cardboard trees or driving through Iowa.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Advertise | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Cruis'n USA is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Cruis'n USA, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.