Thursday, 11 August 2011

Retro Review: Speed Freaks

I love looking back at games I remember enjoying throughout my childhood. For some reason, Speed Freaks always comes back to me as being one of those games. I've always had a slight competitive side when it comes to racing games, and Speed Freaks appealed to that side of me.

Developed by Funcom Dublin Ltd, Speed Freaks (or Speed Punks in America), is a Mario Kart style racing game which was released on the original Playstation

Just like Mario Kart, Speed Freaks involves racing around a variety of colourful and fun looking race tracks, with the ability to pick up and use a selection of weapons on opponents, as well as enhance the players own speed. For me, racing games are much more fun when competing against a few friends, and thankfully Speed Freaks allows up to four players at once to compete for the first place position.
There are four ways to play the game, which range from: 
Single player mode is a little on the easy side, and can be completed within a few hours, but the playability for the multi-player side of the game is enough to make this a great purchase. Players can choose from either a single race, or compete in a Tournament for a cup at the end. This mode also allows the player to unlock bonus features which further enhance the game play. Time Attack mode allows players to try and complete a race in the fastest time possible. The multiplayer modes are either Vs (two players) and multiplayer (for up to four players).

What makes me nostalgic about Speed Freaks is the cute and fun style. The characters are a mix of crazy looking characters, each with different abilities, pros and cons. Some of the characters may seem a bit cliché or stereotypical, but for the most part, it is a joy to scroll through each character, read their humorous biography and race away. Also, imagine this game from a child's perspective: racing around a variety of fun courses with a bunch of crazy childish characters, catchy music and bright colours is going to appeal to a lot of kids. Also, the opening track, Travelling Without Moving by Jamiroquai is undenyably catchy.  
As I previously mentioned, the game is rather simple, and this is reflected in the game configuration. The x button is used to accelerate, square to break, the analogue stick to navigate around the course, the L1 and R1 buttons are used to slide easily around corners, and L2 to fire a weapon. Judging by the look and feel of the game though, there is no denying that, for the most part, Speed Freaks is aimed at children, and children will probably take great pleasure in beating each race track in the game.

However, there is no denying that Mario Kart was definitely a significant influence in the creation of Speed Freaks, and in all honesty, the former does this racing formula much better out of the two. There are plenty more options in Mario Kart, and difficulty curve is much harder, meaning that Mario Kart appeals more to a broad audience, rather than a younger one. 

This does not mean that Speed Freaks is not a great game, because it is. The graphics (although very dated nowadays) are bright and colourful, cute and fun looking. The race tracks are enjoyable to race around, and the variety of weapons are fun to try out against opponents. Speed Freaks is a fun game to play with another 3 players especially, and if you fancy a bit of nostalgia from 1999, then try and pick this little gem up. 

Want to recommend a retro game for me to review?

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