Heracles Chariot Racing Review

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Heracles Chariot Racing Publisher: Neko Entertainment
Developer: Neko Entertainment


Platform: Wii
Reviewed on Wii

Heracles, son of Zeus, has accepted a challenge of mythical proportions – to race gods, demi-gods and shapely bumble bees across a series of courses leading to the top of Mount Olympus. Will he achieve godhood? Fortune? Fame? Probably not, but Heracles and his competitors can all win a series of three trophies. That alone must be worth braving a possible fall from the clouds after being bumped by a satyr's chariot.

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


Heracles Chariot RacingThere's a soft spot in my heart for kart racing games. It's a guilty pleasure for me to race around cartoonish tracks in tiny vehicles, gathering power-ups to disorient my opponents, while careening ahead to victory around the final curve of some absurd track. Heracles Chariot Racing aims to hit the sweet spot of kart racing by offering the familiar racing action in a mythological setting – this is a game in which Kerberos (the three-headed dog known as Cerberus in Roman mythology) spits balls of flame down the track at you while you race to dodge the other charioteers.

Heracles Chariot RacingSadly, Heracles Chariot Racing compares poorly to other kart racing games in every way except price. The sound is anemic, and while the clack of the chariot rolling along is appropriate, there are moments of silence in the game that ring louder than the frequently repeating music. Visually, the cartoonish visuals are washed out. This is even a problem while racing on the Olympus track, because the edges of the track blend into the sky. I had to race those track variants several times to learn where the curves were so that I didn't try to turn by banking off clouds. Most racing games require a little time to learn the tracks, but it's nice to at least see the track on the first trip through.

Heracles Chariot Racing desperately needs something as simple as an explanation of buttons and power-ups. It took me a while to figure out how to brake, and even longer to figure out the power-ups. Fortunately, most of the items you can hurl or drop behind you are clones of Mario Kart items, so it doesn't take long to figure out. But an actual explanation would be welcome.

Heracles Chariot RacingThere is a limited selection of tracks. It's probably a fair amount of play for the 800 points ($8) the game costs, but there are only five regions, each with two race paths (much of which overlap). The gold cup just has you run all the courses from the previous cups, making for a very long series of races. It's pleasant that there's not rampant rubber-banding – get far ahead or far behind and the race tends to stay that way – but it truly sucks that a small error can transform a minor setback into a disastrous loss.

When I died, the game would sometimes place me in a situation that led to multiple looping deaths. The tracks are rife with boosts on ramps that are supposed to send kart racers careening across a huge abyss. If I missed the jump, the game would frequently restart me after the boost patch at the edge of the jump, consigning me repeatedly to certain doom. Also, sometimes I would respawn on a boost patch near a curve, facing the wrong direction. As a result, my racer was repeatedly flung off the side of the track until the game picked a more convenient spawn point. A little more attention to spawn locations would have greatly improved the game.

Heracles Chariot RacingIf the above rating seems high for a game with so many issues, keep in mind that it only costs $8. If you just need a quick kart racing fix, this is an affordable way to spend a few hours racing. It's even more fun if you can play the local, split-screen multiplayer with up to three friends. Keep your expectations low, and you can have more than a movie's worth of fun with Heracles Chariot Racing.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 15, 2009 10:03 PM.

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