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3D Pixel Racing (Wii) artwork

3D Pixel Racing (Wii) review

"Unlike other gimmicky racing titles, there are no tricks, upgrades, weapons, or anything else to distinguish 3D Pixel Racing from your typical racing game apart from presentation. Even if you do master the controls, it's hardly worth the payoff."

It is truly disheartening when one element wrecks an entire game, especially one as charming as 3D Pixel Racing. The retro-but-not-actually presentation draws you in and makes you love it before you even play it. A techno groove kicks off the affair and instantly becomes stuck in your head. It's invigorating and welcoming, even heartwarming. When you check out the variety of modes, vehicles and racers available, you think that you could never grow tired of this title. And when you behold the visuals--environments and vehicles--built up of thousands of colored blocks to simulate 3D sprites a la 3D Dot Game Heroes, you think it's decided that you'll enjoy your stay.

But about a minute after starting your first race, you'll likely catch yourself preparing to throw your Wii Remote through the television screen. After all of that exposure to such charming presentation, having it hampered by one detail will break hearts.

3D Pixel Racing controls like Mario Kart Wii in that you hold the Wii Remote horizontally and steer by tilting side to side. The only trouble is the controls are over-sensitive. To say that the controls "take some getting used to" is an understatement. Only a slight tilt and you'll start turning and veering off the road, and trying to counterbalance by tilting in the opposite direction could cause you to over-correct and careen out of control. Trying to gauge how far you need to tilt to drive around corners is very difficult. If you don't tilt the control at just the right angle, you'll drift off the track. Without this knowledge, you'll drift on every turn and the computer will overtake you every time.

That each track features a complicated and convoluted setup only exacerbates the problem. Every one of them boasts sharp turns and corners that will take the much more than "a little getting used to. " Meanwhile, computer opponents cruise around such obstacles like they aren't an issue at all. Even on Easy difficulty, this game will tear the face off less experienced players. That’s when you have to decide: will you spend the time required to improve, or will you give up and start a new project?

One might argue that the sensitive controls were meant to add challenge. However, tackling basic play mechanics should not prove to be so challenging. Someone should not feel that driving around a simple corner without drifting represents a major achievement. Why the developers didn't include the option to use the Nunchuk or other such non-motion controls is beyond me. Such a configuration would have felt more natural to the common player, and might have patched up the control issues. Some seasoned racing veterans could take to this game instantly, but casual racing fans will feel completely left out.

If you're unwilling to give up on the game, you might check out the other modes. You could outrun the fuzz in Hot Pursuit (sounds familiar...) or run a Time Trial. There's also Capture the Flag, in which you must swipe a flag off your opponent and keep it in your possession longer than your opponent does over the course of a fixed amount of time. Unfortunately, if you can't quickly grow comfortable with the wonky controls, then you're still not going to enjoy these modes. It's a shame, too, because the various modes and unlockable vehicles and characters add up to a great amount of content for a $5 game.

The only solace for the casual racer comes from the option of inviting friends over and sucking at the game together. 3D Pixel Racing allows up to four players, and computer characters can be optionally added in or taken out. You wouldn't need alcohol to facilitate mayhem, either, because everyone will already drive like drunks. With as much chaos as the sensitive controls can generate, the outcome could make for an intense and hilarious game night.

I will admit that there is still some fun to be had in 3D Pixel Racing. If the most hardcore of racing fans sticks with this the long enough, they can nail those finicky controls and bring home numerous championships. However, there aren't very many tracks, and the gameplay is so basic that it will become old hat before long. Unlike other gimmicky racing titles, there are no tricks, upgrades, weapons, or anything else to distinguish 3D Pixel Racing from your typical racing game apart from presentation. Even if you do master the controls, it's hardly worth the payoff.

3D Pixel Racing is not a terrible racing game. The harsh play control tells us that it's intended for hardcore racing fans, but the charming presentation tells us otherwise. This is unfortunate because it closes the door to many players. Accessibility is not necessarily a bad thing, and hopefully Microforum will keep this in mind when producing another racing title.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Freelance review by Joseph Shaffer (September 01, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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I'm sure all five people interested in this game will be thrilled to know it isn't terrible.


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