>> PennOaks.net > Archive 64 > Review House

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)


Electronic Arts


Stormfront Studios


September 1999

ROM Size:

128 megabits


One to Two Simultaneous




Controller Pak (28 pages)


Rumble Pak



> Final Rating: 3.2 out of 5.0


Chances are good that you've owned some Hot Wheels cars in your life. The popular boy's toy line has been around for 30 years, showcasing power, performance, and attitude in a plethora of different car models. Now console gamers get their first chance to experience racing the cars from which childhood dreams were made—maybe even on a similar course to what you designed yourself. Thanks to Electronic Arts and Stormfront Studios, the first Hot Wheels game—Hot Wheels Turbo Racing—is now available on Nintendo 64.

Gameplay & Control

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing uses its license very wisely. For starters, 40 famous Hot Wheels cars have been included. Some examples include The Mongoose, Purple Passion, Speed Blaster, Double Vision, Sweet 16 II, TwinMill, Street Rodder, and The Snake. Classic Hot Wheels tracks—the Corkscrew, Dash 'n Crash, and more—have been used in much of the game's course design. You'll also find that stunts, in addition to speed, are an integral part of the game.


Five game modes are available for one to two players: Exhibition Race, Airtime Challenge, Hot Wheels Cup, Practice, and Practice Airtime. Before that, however, you can select your car, choose a track (if applicable), sign in to enter your name, and change options.


Exhibition Race is one six-lap race against five other computer opponents or against a single human opponent. Airtime Challenge is a three-minute race for one or two players on any track to see who can get the most stunt points. Hot Wheels Cup is a series of six-lap races for one player. You're awarded points for doing well, and the driver with the most points at the conclusion wins the Cup. You open new cars, secret levels, and alternative cups from this mode, too. The Practice mode, which can be played by one or two players, lets you learn the courses without any constraints. A Practice Airtime mode exists for one or two players, too, in which you can experiment with vehicles and stunts without worrying about the time.


Within the Options screen, a number of gameplay options can be tweaked. For instance, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level of the CPU-controlled racers. You can change the music, sound effects, and voice-over volume levels. You have the opportunity to remap the buttons if the default controller configuration doesn't fit your racing style. You can view high scores and credits. Finally, you can go into the "boombox" to have the music play randomly or to choose a specific song.


Hot Wheels Turbo Racing actually brings something different to the racing table. The game is all about speed, but you have to perform stunts to receive the turbo that will help you gain high rates of speed. You also can use speed to crash into your opponents. Anyway, stunts are performed by doing flips, spins, and rolls in the air. You even can get turbo for just catching a lot of air. While in the air, you merely press and hold the Control Stick up and down for flips and left and right for spins. You only get credit for the stunt if you land relatively cleanly, though, so press the Control Stick in the opposite direction of your spin to land safely.


As far as the rest of the control goes, only the Control Stick can be used to control your vehicle. The A button accelerates, the B button is brake (hold it for reverse), and the R button is an emergency brake, which can be used for tight turns, power slides, and barrel rolls. The Z button activates your turbo boost. The Right C button is your "panic" button. If you know you're going to crash and burn, or if you are stuck, you can press this button, without penalty, to be put back onto the track. Finally, Bottom C switches the camera view and Left C toggles on-screen gauges on and off.


In addition to catching big air and performing many stunts, track design is another interesting aspect of Hot Wheels Turbo Racing. When you first start playing, you almost feel like the game is "on rails," because many track sections are narrow (like pieces of Hot Wheels track). You can't fall off the sides of tracks, however, nor do you lose much speed when smacking into walls. This helps keep the game fast and fun so you can concentrate on performing and landing stunts. Other tracks are more open, but you still can count on the game to keep you "on track"—pun intended.


As you race along tracks such as Dawn Encounter, Command Center, and Helicrash—with familiar Hot Wheels track pieces and environments—you'll come across power-ups. There's no button to use power-ups like in Mario Kart 64 or Re-Volt; they're just used automatically. For example, a hammer icon called "Car of Steel" temporarily gives your car maximum durability. So you just can run into other cars to blow them up. A tire icon called "Sticky Tires" improves the grip of your vehicle. A rubber ball-like icon called "Rubber Car" causes other cars that bash into you to bounce away. More power-ups like these that help braking, control, turbo, and stunts are available, too.

Graphics & Sound

Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is a little disappointing in the graphics department. The one-player races move very quickly and quite smoothly, but it's not too impressive. Why? Well, only six cars are on the track at once. Another problem is that a lot of the graphics are shaded polygons with a limited amount of texturing. The worlds do have some familiar Hot Wheels graphical elements, though, such as track pieces that are barely one car wide and track design that has loops, twists and turns. On the other hand, these worlds have a lot more attitude and a darker design than any Hot Wheels environments I remember. A positive is that the game includes large-scale cars that are bigger than your typical racing game.


Even more disappointing is the audio. With an artist list in the N64 version that includes Mix Master Mike, Primus, and The Reverend Horton Heat, one would hope that the sound would be riveting. Not quite. The seven licensed songs are very limited and repetitive. Moreover, if fuel and fire are what you desire, you won't find it in the N64 version. For some reason, Metallica's song "Fuel," which is in the PSX version, has been omitted. Additionally, the sound quality is poor—it almost sounds like the songs were recorded from a cheap tape player. Sound effects aren't anything more than average, with standard engine, crash, grind, and squeal sounds. Finally, some enthusiastic voice samples have been included to encourage, praise, or mock you. If a guy screaming "Big air!" or "Crashing and Trashing" or "Chew on this!" doesn't get your adrenaline pumping, then, well, don't be surprised.


The N64 version of Hot Wheels Turbo Racing seems like a CD-ROM game that was ported to the cartridge format quickly and cheaply. It's noticeable because of the limited, muffled sound, the lackluster graphics, and the lack of a four-player mode. Nintendo 64 players know that CD-ROM games can be ported to their system with excellent results if enough effort is put into them. Just look at Mortal Kombat 4, Vigilante 8, Resident Evil 2, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.


As such, Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is disappointingly aesthetically, but it's somewhat fun and original to play. You won't become engrossed in the racing experience, even if you're a Hot Wheels freak, but it's an entertaining ride when you feel the need for speed and daredevil maneuvers. Give it a shot if you're a solo gamer looking for a new arcade-style racing game.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 24, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




>> PennOaks.net > Archive 64 > Review House