This review is for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version. The game is also available for Steam on the PC
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
In this day and age, complexity is increasingly becoming the norm. Video Games today have a wide variety of systems working under the hood to deliver the best gaming experience that it can deliver. Today’s vehicles have thousands of calculations being performed by a single chip that can determine distance between you and the traffic in your immediate vicinity. Even the way that the human race has chosen to interact with one another via social networking sites has grown more and more intricate, as our Twitter accounts are linked with Facebook, using photos ripped off Tumblr, that we used at a job we earned by having a Linkedin account, delivered to everyone’s phone that is in their pocket. One could make the argument that on the surface, everything has been streamlined and simplified for our convenience, but the amount of brainpower and man hours it takes to keep all those cogs moving at once is nothing short of baffling. Sometimes, it can be too much to take in. Sometimes, we need to just need to go back to basics. Sometimes, we need a game like Bang Bang Racers.
Racing games have in the past run the gamut of power-up based combat racing (Mario Kart) to the insanity that is Burnout, where you need to destroy your opponents in order to keep ahead of the competition. With BBR, you just pick your car, pick your track and go. This is certainly not to say that the game does not require at least some consideration in your vehicle selection. There are 6 different kinds of cars to choose from, and each have their defining strength that you will need to exploit all the way to the finish line. There is a car that excels at cornering better than others, better turbo, better acceleration and so on and so on. Now 6 cars does sound a bit light, but as you progress from the early stages, you will have access to bulky muscle cars, to LeMans-esque whips until you come up to the Formula-One style rides that are more sensitive in their handling and become more of a challenge to handle. All this is done in a super clean and colorful interface. Speaking of colors, you will have access to pre-made paint customization options, but only if you fulfill certain requirements. This is a bit of a bummer, if only because you are not allowed to paint the cars that you would like.
Simple is also how this game plays. The basic controls consist of gas, brake, and boost, making it a title that anyone can play. The cars themselves handle well enough, and races can and often are a tight affair if you are not on your game. The tracks are well designed, with lots of very tight turns to overtake your opponents in. There are also barrels of oil and sand on the road to impede your progress, with timed exploding barrels that can damage your car, which affects your car’s ability to perform ( please insert your dumb sexual joke here and let’s just be done with it). The camera view is done at a pseudo-top down view, giving you more of a bird’s-eye view on things and letting you see the action up ahead. This view can also be switched on the fly from either a following camera, or if you want to basically recreate Championship Sprint, switch it to Fixed view. Along with the career mode that spans 4 Stages with a number of races within, there are also various championship cups you can compete for, as well as the basic Time Trials and just a free play if you want to get a feel for the tracks before you go against the AI.
The visuals do offer a very colorful and Fisher-Price aesthetic, with the car models looking slightly compact and bulky making it look like you are recreating your childhood in 3D. Even the spectators are those egg-shaped dudes with no arms! Now if there any gripes to be had, there unfortunately is no real multiplayer to speak of, outside of the 4 player split screen that you can partake in, which is even made more odd by the fact that there are online leaderboards that you can compare best times against. A game like this should have Xbox./PSN support, especially considering that you buy the game from their respective online services. The simplicity of the game may also turn some people off as it is over rather quickly, considering the game walks the fine line of being too sparse, and just having the bare essentials.
Bang Bang Racing is simply put a racing game. Nothing more, nothing less. It keeps a nicely tight focus on the basic game design fundamentals that make a racing game pretty good. There is no gimmicky feeling about its parts, and it doesn’t have to have anything of the sort. It is a fun and enjoyable family friendly game that is inexpensive, and can be played by anyone. Sometimes, that is all a game needs to be.