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Wacky Races

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Velez & Dubail
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Racing (Kart)

Graphics & Sound:

I looked at the graphics on the back of the box for Wacky Races, and saw something that reminded me of nothing so much as the old Pole Position II for the Atari 7800. The same style of semi-3D, coming at you racing, with the added benefit of power-ups. Yes, Wacky Races uses the same type of engine. But it moves about ten times smoother, and almost feels 3D. I never thought the 11-year-old Game Boy architecture could pump something like Wacky Races on the screen. It is truly impressive, and something that really must be seen to be believed. The courses twist, turn, and even go over a hill or two. And the characters are all clear and decipherable, with a ton of scaled sprites depending on the distance and what direction they’re turning. The character design itself was already provided by the wacked-out Hanna and Barbera, so you’re sure to get some, uh, ‘original’ characters here. My personal favorites, of course, are Dick Dastardly and Muttley with his inimical snicker-laugh. Didn’t everyone watch this show when they were young? The sound in the game is all right, although I highly suggest turning the music down before it drives you crazy with its cartoony-style. Eep.


For what it’s worth, Wacky Races is an amazingly tight presentation of power-up based racing on a Game Boy. You pick one of four racers (eight, once you’ve unlocked them all), and compete against the others on a variety of courses. In the grand style of this genre, as you race, you open up both new characters and new tracks. None of the beginning tracks are particularly challenging, with the really interesting ones showing up later in the game. But they’re all gorgeous. Once again, I’m amazed at what the developers did with this title. The power-ups themselves are standard fare -- you’ve got your missiles, your speed-ups, your invincibility, your instant-zappy-death. The enemies drop bombs and oil slicks, it seems; neither of which you’ll ever find in the races, but I suppose that is a small concession to make.

The racing itself is fun, if a little droll. Each racer has a unique ability, from being able to repair the vehicle in no time to being untouched by slicks in the road. You’ll find that they have different top speeds, though, and choosing a fast vehicle often makes the difference between winning and third place. Careful driving will get you out in front, and you shouldn’t find the game itself to be all that much of a challenge. For the time that you play it, however, it’s a damned fun ride.


Once you get the hang of the (assuredly simple) controls in Wacky Races, the difficulty mainly comes from dodging enemy attacks and getting into the lead. Once you’re there, chances are great that that’s where you’ll stay. This is definitely not the most challenging racer you’re ever going to play.

Game Mechanics:

The controls in this game are tight and simple, with gas and ‘use special’ on the two main buttons, and down on the D-pad as a brake. The menu system is simple and clean, reminding me of F-Zero for the SNES more than anything else.

I like to think of Wacky Races as a really nice tech demo, like the various hacker groups put out, showcasing just what some ancient piece of hardware can do if really pushed to the limit. It’s an added bonus that Infogrames happened to strap on an enjoyable game and a nice license. If you like this type of game, definitely check it out. If nothing else, get it to see just what your little system can do, if pushed hard enough.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

GameBoy Color/Pocket Test Drive 6 Sony PlayStation 2 Conflict: Vietnam

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated