Cruisin' USA

2 out of 5

Written by Dr_Worm on April 18, 2008

If I had to choose one word to describe Cruisin' USA, I'd have to call it "old." Back in 1994 this game's visuals blew minds as being one of the first demonstrations of the Ultra 64's powerful graphics, and back then it was a good game. But it's 2008, now. We're playing games we remember from our childhoods on the modern generation of games, I guess proving that history does repeat itself. But I don't remember history being this bad.

Let's start with the gameplay. Cruisin' USA is a real '90s game, just watching someone play this takes you back to when all your clothes had triangles and swirls pretending to be a pattern and your friends made fun of your Duncan Yo-Yos and Pog collections. It had good presentation and it manages to stick today. You just get this crave for some arcade driving action. And for the first few levels Cruisin' USA is all 90s arcade action. But it gets repetitive a little too quickly. You drive forward. And then you turn left. And then you turn right. You have no idea how far from the start and how close to the finish you are. The AI is OK, but it's just because it's a game where all you do is go from point A to point B dodging traffic and hoping your rivals don't reach the finish line. It's like most racing games of or prior to its time.

There are 14 levels, and although each of them are unique in style, they're similar in feel. Too similar. You drive along on a map of the United States, but most of the levels are in the western half of the country, which isn't much of a road trip in the grand scheme. You would expect the difficulty of the levels to go from Easy to Hard as you go along, right? No. It's all jumbled up to the point that more than once you'll feel like you have to be at the end of the game. This has to be the last level. And it's not. Just a waste of time.

There's virtually no reward to completing the game. When you reach Washington DC, the last level of the game, an upgraded version of the car you used rotates victoriously atop the White House. But it's not enough of a difference to make your car the best. I think it has something to do with balancing gameplay, but why bother when the gameplay is boring after the first 10 minutes?

You may have noticed the word "gameplay" appear numerous times throughout this review. That's because just about all of this game is gameplay. There are pretty much only two modes - the campaign mode and time trial, both of which you can do multiplayer. Multiplayer is more fun than playing alone. With a friend on the N64 (and Virtual Console), you have a higher chance of moving on to the next level, making the mediocre experience take a little less time. The arcade version is way more fun because each player has their own arcade cabinet resembling their own imaginary hot rod.

Basically, it's the same old 90s game and should be treated as such, but since I'm writing this review because its Virtual Console, its best excuse is null and void. Cruisin' USA falls flat on its ass in today's retro standards because it's way too repetitive. But I guess the 90s was used to repetition in gameplay. Or was that the 80s? Yeah, it was the 80s! Just about every game in the 80s was repetitious enough to bore today's average gamer and Cruisin' USA is a lot like an 80s racing game but without the score. You drive. You dodge. You finish. If you played this when you were 9 and liked it back then, like me, you'll probably get a nostalgic kick out of this game. Unfortunately, I'm not nepotistic enough to give Cruisin' USA more than a 2 out of 5.