Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 11/13/00 | Genre: Driving
It's saddening that as Nintendo's 64 bit platforms draw their last breath, developers are really getting to grips with it and making high quality games. It took two years to catch up with the brilliance of Mario64, Mario Kart and Goldeneye. Now the GameCube is upon us, scheduled for a July release here in Japan and the next six months of game releases represents the swansong of the N64.
Rare has been probably Nintendo's greatest strength with Goldeneye and the 2000 follow up Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing being the gems. Mickey's Speedway USA slides comfortably into the Kart racing genre, defined by Super Mario Kart and loved by millions. Is it worth your hard earned cash? Perhaps...
Colorful to the extreme as befits a Disney related game you control your drivers (all familiar faces from the cartoons) in races on the obvious mission to take gold. You can earn the usual secret characters like Dewey and Louie, extra tracks (Yellowstone and Malibu to name a couple) and secret passages if you have a sneaky look around and a devil may care attitude. As the title suggests, your tracks take you through Disney molded, simplistically American locations from the icy, wintry North of Alaska to the sun-drenched South.
Race kart addicts will know the score about player strengths and weakness. The fast acceleration and more agile maneuvering of the smaller characters are off set by the high top speed and strength of the larger. For the first time player especially those younger players, Mickey's Speedway USA is a gentle but challenging introduction, for the older, more experienced racer you may rue the difficulty level which will push you but ultimately lacks the ability to drive you to your teeth-gritting limit. There is a ride to be had though and anyone can enjoy it.
Running on the Diddy Kong engine but without the novelty of planes and hovercraft, this title has better control and responsiveness but still plays a little loose round some of the corners. There are easy to pick-up even easier to use weapons at your disposal to increase your chances by fair means or, more enjoyably, by foul of taking the checkered flag. These are collected from squares in the road and fired off at your leisure.
Also included comes the battle mode where you drive around an arena protecting your three lives (balloons attached to your vehicle) from the machinations of your evil friends, whilst all the time plotting dark deeds in how to divest them of their balloons. It's fun and good entertainment but the racing is better and the real test of skill.
Don't write Mickey's Speedway USA off as a child's game, it has more potential than that. Then again, if you don't have Mario Kart 64 that really should be your first port of call, however old it is.