Pros – A kinetic, and intense arcade driving game. The stunt/boost system provides a unique gameplay experience. A fun multiplayer experience.
Cons – Controls could have been made a bit tighter. Bland visuals. Online multiplayer could have really added to the experience. Spotty driver AI. Championship mode could have been put together better.
Its been awhile since I’ve done a review for WiiBlog. Consider it fate that a week or so ago, High Voltage was kind enough to provide me with a copy of High Voltage Hot Rod Show to review for WiiBlog. I’ve put in enough time with the game to offer my thoughts, and share what I did, and didn’t like about High Voltage Hot Rod Show. So, here we go.
If you’ve ever played the Off Road series in an old school arcade, or on the SNES then you know close to what you’re getting into with High Voltage Hot Rod Show. In fact, this game feels like a 3D successor to the Off Road franchise. Which in certain ways is a good thing, but leaves the game coming up short in some key areas.
High Voltage Hot Rod Show, is a download on the WiiWare service, and will set you back 1000 Wii points if you do decide to download it. I would have liked to of seen it released at 800 Wii points, but there are certainly worse deals out there. When you turn the game on, you’ll have an option to play three different game modes, Championship, Time Trials, and Multiplayer.
If you’re playing single player, then most of your time will be spent in the Championship game mode. Here you’ll select one of the three difficulty levels, easy, medium, or hard. I was disappointed with the lack of selection, for which tracks you race on. For each difficulty level, some tracks are repeated and you kind of feel cheated because blasting through ‘easy’ takes all of 5-8 minutes. Which is a third of the Championship experience. I think the game could have used Mario Kart’s circuit layout. Where you get to decide on a set number of tracks, and then custom fit the difficulty around that. Instead of the other way around.
You’ll Be Seeing Quite A Bit Of These In Single Player
Once you actually get into a race, you’ll find quite a bit to like about the game. The driving is really fun, and finding a balance between stunting, and boosting adds a unique sense of strategy. Each race starts by tapping the ’2′ button to gain a boost, and is really easy to start a race with a full boost. As you make your way through a track, you’ll gain more boost by performing stunts, and driving over boost pads. The trick system has a nice sense of balance, in that you have to judge when you need to pull off a stunt or just let your car run its course. Another gameplay aspect that’s cool is the risk/reward system that comes from jumping through the boost circles when you go off a ramp. You can either stick to the red circles, or try for the higher green stars. The stars provide more boost but makes the course harder to control. All of these elements really drive home the spirit of the game.
The gameplay experience would be exceptional if it weren’t for some control issues. They aren’t necessarily fubar, but there are some lag issues with the motion control option. Luckily, you can utilize nearly every control combination to play the game, which is impressive for a WiiWare title. Even with the analog controls the game still doesn’t quite feel as tight as it needs to be. The action feels faster than the response time at certain points.
My biggest beef with the game up to this point, is the driver AI. In all of the difficulties, you’ll find that nearly every race comes down between you and one other driver. This gap really shows a lack of cohesiveness in the AI. It’s not uncommon to lap drivers up to the 5th position, but still come in 2nd. Getting 1st place isn’t much a feat, even in the Hard mode. My first time through hard, I received 1st place on every race but one. Once you see the other drivers, you’ll understand why it’s so easy. One instance I drove by someone that flipped their car over 4 times trying to bunny hop for no apparent reason. This really takes away from some of the intensity of the race.
I might have ragged on the game’s single player, Championship mode but you can tell this game was made for multiplayer. The intensity of a race heightens as you add more human players to the mix. I played this with some people, and found myself getting more and more into it rather than just playing it for a review. The idea of balancing your stunts, and boosts is much more vital as you see other player’s strategies for tackling a race.
I think this game would have earned its 1,000 Wii Point price tag if they had an online multiplayer fuction. As it stands now though, the only online functionality is uploading your time trials performances and comparing them to other drivers.
Four Player Split-Screen Is Where It’s At In High Voltage Hot Rod Show
The visual style of High Voltage Hot Rod Show gets the job done, but really doesn’t leave you impressed. The character styles are well done, the only problem is you only see them on the character select screen. In a race, the textures aren’t nearly as pixelated or bad off as you might think. But the courses feel kind of rehashed, and I think most of that is due to the camera angle that’s utilized. The angle that the game use is one I haven’t seen since the Off Road series. I think this aspect of the game is what reminds me so much of the arcade classic. Its an isometric viewpoint, which shows your car at an angle not seen in most driving games. Which I believe led to many of the game’s courses feeling repetative.
There are a few extras in the game to unlock to keep the experience going. You can earn multiple skins for different drivers, but beyond that there isn’t much to shoot for in single player. The time trials can be engaging, especially if you really want to test your mettle in comparing your skills on the online leaderboards. Beyond those two things, there aren’t that many things to play for in terms of unlockables.
In conclusion, I could easily recommend High Voltage Hot Rod Show to anyone looking for a fun, multiplayer driving game on the Wii. If you gather three other friends around, and play some of this game I gurantee you’ll have a good time. Just don’t expect much more out of it than that. I could have rated the game higher, if the price point was a bit lower. As it stands now though, for a 1,000 Wii Points I would have liked to seen a more expanded Championship mode, and some form of online multiplayer.