Review: Bang Bang Racing

BangBangRacing

Back in 1995, a small kart racing game was released by developer Maniac Media Productions called SuperKarts.  The game was a bit like a PC knock off of the original Mario Kart, but at the time I didn’t have any console and the game had a simple, clean look and the gameplay was addictive.  I mention this 17-year-old racer because Bang Bang Racing reminds me of the game that sucked many hours of my time away so many years ago.

Bang Bang Racing has several modes to choose from: Career, Championships, and Free Play, with support for up to 4-player split-screen in Championships and Freeplay.  Career mode is broken down into four series of races.  Each series has five or more races on unique courses that are modified by shortcuts or reversed layouts.  As races are completed additional cars become unlocked.  Each car class handles differently and has unique characteristics, such as stronger body frames, better turning and traction, faster acceleration, or better turbo boost.  The cars are modeled after real-world cars, but no official licenses are used.

The tracks cover a wide range of environmental themes, including a sunny beach, a sandy desert, a Japanese garden, and a NASCAR-inspired infinity loop.  Depending on the race each track may have shortcuts available or barrels that spill oil or water or cause explosions.  Flower petals and fallen leaves can cause cars to slip while sand allows tires to get a better grip.  Races are a mix of traditional laps, time trials and elimination runs.

While all of this sounds basic and routine, what makes the game fun are the tight controls and the increasing sense of speed as additional cars unlock.  Racing is fast and the turns on most every track are tight, but mastering the art of timing brakes and acceleration at just the right moment makes for a compelling and addictive arcade experience.  Even in races starting with the player’s car in the last position, the other cars predictably bunch up at the beginning, which makes for a convenient hole to drive through. While gaining a sizable jump early in the race is an advantage, the game does a good job of almost having a rubber band effect without being too obvious.  Perfect timing and quick reflexes make for a nail biting, down-to-the-wire finish every time. This style of seat-of-the-pants racing in Bang Bang Racing is what reminded me of SuperKarts from so many years ago.

While there is plenty of fun with both the local split-screen and solo challenges, there are a few aspects to the game that are a bit frustrating.  First off, the game has only two camera modes, and neither option comes off without a hitch. One camera angle follows the car with every turn, but given the winding tight curves of each track, the camera spins back and forth to a dizzying degree.  The other camera option still spins, but stays on a more fixed track.

The other mildly disappointing aspect to the game is the lack of online multiplayer.  While I admit that I’m not a huge fan of online anything, I do enjoy ghost racing similar to what Evolution Studios did with the recent MotorStorm RC or what Criterion has done with Autolog in their take on the Need for Speed franchise. Bang Bang Racing has a scoreboard, but it is limited to total points earned across all races.  Don’t get me wrong, the local multiplayer experience is fun and the option for up to four players is very welcome, but having a more robust leaderboard or challenge mechanism for score chasing would add an extra layer to what is overall a solid racer.

With Bang Bang Racing, Digital Reality has released a bright, fun arcade racer that is well worth taking for a spin around your preferred digital download block.  The controls are responsive, the track designs are excellent (and there are plenty of devious obstacles to avoid upon mastery of each track), and races are quick to load and each takes only a few minutes to complete, all synching together in harmony to fuel a compelling and addictive experience.  Arcade racing fans should find plenty of enjoyment in Bang Bang Racing.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Quick load times
+ Lots of variations so the tracks don’t feel too repetitive
+ Tight, responsive controls
+ Up to 4 player local split-screen

Cons:
– No online racing
– Camera can be dizzying

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3 via PSN, also available for PC and Xbox Live Arcade
Publisher: Digital Reality
Developer: Digital Reality
Release Date: 6/6/2012
Genre: Racing
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1-4 (offline multiplayer only)
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.