Review – Cruis’n Blast

You've got the speed; you've got the power

Overview

Developer Raw Thrills, Inc.
Publisher Raw Thrills, Inc.
Genre Racing
Platforms Switch
Release Date 9/14/2021

Cruis’n Blast is the first console Cruis’n game since the 2007 Wii title. Most of my experience with the franchise is restricted to Cruis’n World on the N64, so I’ve been looking forward to this release since I learned about it. I’m not sure what I expected going in, but the game still surprised me.

It’s all downhill from here

Content Guide

Violence: You can crash into other racers and destroy their vehicles. It’s incredibly mild, and the only content that could potentially be of any concern.

This game is rated E10+ for everyone 10 and up

Review

On the main menu, you get to choose from a few modes to play, with a variety of both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. There doesn’t appear to be any online capability, but you can play with others over a local network. Additionally, there is a split-screen option that allows for up to four players.

The primary single player mode—the one that unlocks more vehicles—is Tour. Each tour is a set of four races, with a total of six tours. In order to unlock the later tours, you need to earn a certain number of cups. Several tours require you to have achieved bronze in the first cup, and the last few require gold cups. You need a gold cup in every tour in order to unlock the final one.

When did this turn into Need for Speed?

There are technically twenty tracks, but the true number is fewer than that. Each tour has a different theme, and usually, at least a couple of the tracks in each tour are recycled and remixed to fit that theme. For example, a track in one tour takes you to Los Angeles as helicopters destroy it with missiles. Then, in another tour, you do that same track—with some slight modifications—while alien saucers destroy the environment.

Races are chaotic, fast, and oftentimes short. There are several tracks that take less than a minute to complete, and very few—if any—that take longer than two. “Short and sweet” seems to be the game’s mantra, sometimes to a fault.

For each race, you are given three blasts. Each blast is a boost that may or may not be useful depending on when you use it. When you choose your vehicle before a race, you have the option to buy extra boosts. They are single-use, so they won’t carry over into the next race of a tour. Also, there are no opportunities to buy more boosts after starting a tour.

Wheee!

While racing, if you collide with another player enough, you will perform a takedown. Each takedown sends that racer to last place, but it doesn’t kick them out of the race. As far as I could tell, at least in the single player modes, the computer cannot achieve a takedown against the player.

Though exciting the first time, it’s disappointing when looked at too closely

In each track, there are three golden keys that you can find. Some are in obvious places, others are well-hidden. As you find keys and complete tours, you unlock the ability to purchase new vehicles. Each new vehicle costs either a number of the golden keys you’ve collected or money that you earn from each race. Fortunately, making money is easy, so it shouldn’t take long to save up if you don’t have enough.

Some of the unlockables are, to be frank, ridiculous. However, they are simultaneously humorous and worth unlocking for the kicks. Sadly, some of the funnier vehicles are not the fastest, but they can work well enough if you’re slowing down to find some golden keys or are just playing for fun rather than to win.

The combination of odd unlockable vehicles and disaster elements makes the game feel like a cross between Motorstorm: Apocalypse, and Goat Simulator. None of the vehicles are goats, but they are goofy enough to be an accurate comparison. Unfortunately, unlike Motorstorm: Apocalypse, the destruction has no real bearing on the actual gameplay. It’s purely cosmetic.

Believe it or not, this is far from the most ridiculous unlockable.

The other modes are Classic Arcade, Time Trials, and Single Race. Single Race and Time Trials are straightforward, standard features of racing games. Classic Arcade is exactly that: the version from the arcade cabinets. It has five tracks, each with golden keys to collect that are separate from the tours.

When you race with a vehicle, you are given experience points at the end of the race. Winning gives you more EXP—up to a thousand for getting first place—but you earn some regardless of placement. You level up once you earn enough experience, and that unlocks cosmetic options for that vehicle. The first one you unlock is neon, which adds a nice flair to anything. Unfortunately, it’s consistent across all vehicles. No vehicles that I could see are given contextual modifications.

This game is meant to be played at top speed at all times. If you slow down, you start to see the myriad cracks in the paint. The destroyed parts of the environment are linked to your movement. If you stop, they stop until you move again. Every gap that you pass over is one big collider. If you are going too slow to make the jump, you’ll land on the air as if it’s a solid object. There are no legitimate threats of falling or crashing. Additionally, the collider on most ramps extends farther than the ramp itself, so again, going slowly enough means you won’t truly leave the ramp for a few feet. I discovered a good portion of these “cracks in the paint” while looking for golden keys.

Look ma, I’m floating!

The physics when crashing into another racer is one of the more frustrating flaws. Even if you aren’t going particularly fast, if you hit another racer while trying to veer onto an alternate path, the game often sends you flying back in the opposite direction, forcing you to stay on the path you were trying to leave.

The soundtrack is probably the weakest part of the game. The songs during races are generic, and the menu music is repetitive and boring. To make things worse, I couldn’t find any way to turn the music off.

While I have many complaints with the game, there are some good things going for it. Double tapping the accelerator button has you do a wheelie in any vehicle, just like in classic Cruis’n entries. That is probably the primary thing that makes it feel like a Cruis’n game, rather than a generic racing game. Additionally, the environments are beautiful, particularly in the tracks that have a lot of lighting and neon.

I really love the vibrant colors

Overall, I suspect Cruis’n Blast works better as an arcade game. The short, fast-paced races are more suited for the cabinet than a home console. As beautiful as it is to look at, it’s not enough to make up for the flaws. It’s a decent game to play with some friends, but there are better racing games out there.

Some things aren’t meant to be seen

The Bottom Line

 

Cruis'n Blast is a by-the-numbers racing game that is fun for an afternoon, but with little to offer to make it worth it to keep playing.

 

5.5

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David Koury

Writer and gamer residing in the wasteland that is Nevada.

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