Yesterday’s Nintendo Direct was all about the Switch having “something for everyone.” While my typical response to such a claim would be to call bullshit—at least until Nintendo buckles to pressure and gives everyone a new F-Zero, I’ve got to hand it to ’em — they managed to bring back an old-school arcade racer from the grave that even I forget about from time to time.
If you had a Nintendo 64, you likely remember Cruis’n USA, or its sequels, Cruis’n World and Cruis’n Exotica. These were absurdly cheesy, strange, over-the-top arcade racers with droning MIDI soundtracks, obnoxious vocal samples and gratuitous digitized sprites of women in bikinis holding trophies. Even compared to their ’90s contemporaries, they were a little much.
Well, Cruis’n is back, for better or worse. And look, it’s probably obvious I never liked these games, but after watching the trailer for Cruis’n Blast — the new installment ported to Switch after first hitting arcades a few years ago — I think I’m on board. It looks so ridiculous, so wrong in so many ways, it’ll probably loop back around and be incredible.
Take, for example, the selection of “vehicles” on offer in the game. I couch “vehicles” in quotes there because, in addition to the new Hummer EV, Corvette C8 and Nissan 370Z, there’s a fire truck, military tank, UFO, Pegasus and triceratops. They all shoot flames when you hit the nitrous, as they should, and offer fun upgrades, like gigantic engines bursting out of bodywork and underglow. I don’t believe these can be applied to the animals and mythical creatures in the roster, though fingers crossed I’m wrong on that one.
In true Cruis’n fashion, there are locales all around the world for you to race on, from snow-capped mountains to active volcanoes, cities under siege from extraterrestrial threat and mysterious tropical islands teeming with dinosaurs and large birds. Aliens and prehistoric creatures really are a theme in this game; I pray there’s a stage where they fight.
We have to recognize the music in the trailer too, which, if nothing else, rises to match the neon assault on your retinas. There’s a smooth-talking dude inexplicably low in the mix — maybe he’s the same guy from the unforgettable Cruis’n USA theme. If so, I’m glad he’s still finding work.
Raw Thrills, the studio behind Cruis’n Blast, was formed by folks who also used to work on the Rush series way back in the day. That game contained such dulcet melodies as “Rave Rush.” I was reminded of this song today and so now you must hear it, too.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes when Cruis’n Blast wound up in Direct; I was hopelessly pining for a Daytona USA remaster or a new Ridge Racer, but instead, here was goddamn Cruis’n. But you know what? After repeated viewings of that trailer left me dizzy and these dumb tunes have successfully wormed their way into my brain again, I think I’m on board. This is the Sharknado of racing games, and I’m kinda looking forward to checking it out when it drops in the fall.