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Reviewed: Beetle Buggin'
Author: Chris Kim       Date: April 18th 2000
Page: 2

Possibly one of the first games on the PC to be released that doesn't claim to any special license of exotic sports cars with extreme speed or maneuvering capabilities, Beetle Buggin' claims to have the license of one of the most popular small cars of all-time, the Volkswagen Beetle. Now at first glance, it could be seen that the obvious target of this product is not the high-end hardcore simulation fan of speed kills type games. Rather, the approach is a more unique and friendly environment that most gamers can approach easily and jump right into the game without a huge learning curve. This is true for the most part with many features that will appeal to the most casual racing fans.

One of the largest claims of the game is that it features the huge license to seventeen different cars, contains twenty tracks, and five distinct racing modes. With so many modes, cars, and tracks, could the quality from race to race and mode to mode keep up? The answer simply put is yes. This is because the designers didn't have the hardcore simulation fans in mind when developing this game, so they created a very fun, easy, and approachable game that would appeal to family, casual, and first-time gamers. The game is simply a pure unadulterated fun that should keep most gamers attracted to it for a significant amount of time.

Turn it Slowly
Meaning of Powerslide
Wet and Wild Racin'

With over seventeen officially licensed cars, there is definitely no shortage of cars to drive and maneuver. To match the five different race modes, there are different cars for each style of event, each with increased speed and handling capabilities. The main focus of the game is on the Beetle, hence the name of the game, Beetle Buggin'. This Beetle is used in the speed competition as an extremely fast racer. Along with the Beetle, are the various year models and other off-road trucks and cars. Each year and model claims to have different speeds and handling characteristics, creating unique handling strategies and abilities among racers. Despite this claim, most of the different cars in their respective classes all feel and handle pretty much the same minus the speed issue, increasing cars have more speed. In spite of the lack of different handling characteristics, the game still remains fun to play with various cars.

Speed racing is one of the larger aspects and it is very well executed. Players will find themselves strapped in a fairly quick race for a few laps (depending on skill level) competing against several other racers to get to the top of the rankings. A blatant characteristic of the speed racers is that they behave with little traction and control. Most of the cars seem to fishtail way too often causing a major lack of control. Thankfully, this only occurs as a result of contact with another object. Because it would be no fun to do any speed racing without fast cars, the developers chose to skew the realistic speeds of the cars, some exceeding 230kph (or is it mph?) and maintaining 100% traction to the ground. With these added speed attributes, the speed racing is made much more fun than if it were done with the realistic speeds of the cars.

Look Past the Tunnel
Night Collision
Justa Cruising

Cross competition plays almost exactly like Powerslide. This happens to be a good and bad thing at the same time. Players who enjoyed the slick and slippery conditions they were faced with in Powerslide will enjoy this competition as it plays nearly the same; there is a major lack of traction and powersliding and handbraking is extremely vital to success. The combination of off-road dirt racing inside an arena also plays slightly like the supercross from Motocross Madness with boundaries, bumps, and jumps to hit. For the most part, this cross competition is a lot of fun to play is dramatically different from typical racing.

Those who enjoyed the Test Drive Off-Road series (read the review of Test Drive Off-Road 3) should enjoy the buggy competition. Similar to Test Drive Off-Road, most of the conditions are outdoors with some road racing tossed in here and there. There are a lot of jumps and humps to go over with many killer speed sections in the race as well. For the most part, the racing is pretty solid except for the fact that the cars in this competition handles like a drunken yak--extremely sluggish and bulky. This makes for less than ideal handling conditions when trying to catch the other racers in tight situations. Similar to the fishtailing issue with the speed competition, the same tends to be true of the buggy competition as well.

Second Place Finish
Do the Billy Hop

The last two competitions are only available in the challenge mode, where players compete in challenges for money to buy better and faster cars. The jump mode is exactly as it sounds, almost like a long jump competition, players will receive nitro boosts in their cars and try to gain a certain distance on the car when going off the ramp. At first, this jump is a bit fun, but then the effect wears off as the competition really lacks any substance. Players just at random launch their nitros hoping to get a far landing distance. The monster truck competition is just as it sounds, players must navigate their way around a monster dome arena without hitting the cones and getting past obstacles in a certain amount of time. As with the jump competition, it's fun at first but the effect wears thin after playing with it a while.

Track design is passable and the competition modes are decent. Because the designers were aiming for a wide audience, the design in tracks suffers a bit from ease on the racer and simplicity. Rather than complex structures and different types of turns that were extremely difficult, the designers opted for a common turn and straight edge set of tracks. No design to any single track really has anything special to it. The competition modes are pretty simplistic and don't really have much novelty to them. The championship-racing mode is just trying to win at various competitions and finishing at the top. Beetle challenge is racing with the money factor, and then there is single race, which is self-explanatory.

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Added:  Tuesday, April 18, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 2/5

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