Review – Cruis’n Blast
I’ve been a fan of the Cruis’n franchise ever since they released Cruis’n USA on the Nintendo 64 back in 1996. Sure, it might not have been to the most glamorous game, or even have had great gameplay mechanics (they were atrocious), but something about its insane, high-speed action still enamored me and my friends alike. There was something so appealing about racing through various areas of the US at breakneck speeds, even if the San Francisco levels made me want to throw my controller across the room in frustration. Well after several other iterations and a long hiatus since Cruis’n in 2007, Raw Thrills has finally blessed us with Cruis’n Blast, arguably the best game in the series to date.
For the uninitiated, Cruis’n Blast is a racing game. However, it’s not your typical racer in the vein of Forza, WRC, or Gran Turismo. No, Cruis’n Blast is an arcade racing game, taken from its normal arcade version and finally released on the Nintendo Switch. Being an arcade racer, this means you won’t have to focus on the intricacies of properly handling your vehicle or even worry about environmental challenges all that much. In Cruis’n Blast your main focus is simply getting to the finish line as fast as you can while enjoying the outlandish sights all around you.
Thankfully, the Switch version of Cruis’n Blast handles much better than the arcade version. It makes sense when you think about it though, as the game is no longer trying to screw you over to get more quarters out of you. The vehicles are weighted appropriately, the controls are responsive, and drifting is very easy to get down. You can also do various tricks like timing a wheelie just right at the start of a jump to spin mid-air and gain a speed boost. Doing a wheelie when you’re coming up behind a competitor will allow you flip over them and also results in a speed boost upon landing. Drifting for an extended time will also grant you a speed boost once you release the brake. Basically, everything rewards you with more speed. Now I just need a Jeff Goldblum avatar to say, “must go faster!”
There’s not much penalty for crashing into objects or missing your jumps though. However, this is understandable considering this is taken from an arcade game where the usual goal was to get players through at least one race before they needed to hock up more money. That being said, in harder difficulties you’ll need to really focus on timing your jumps, hitting your tricks, and mastering drifting even on straight roads in order to get the coveted gold trophy.
All of the maps from Cruis’n Blast‘s arcade counterpart are present here and can be enjoyed in its Classic Arcade mode. Although, since only having five maps to play wouldn’t make for a terribly long game, Raw Thrills has added the Cruis’n Tour mode, which adds an extra twenty-four tracks to its repertoire. This mode is divided into six tours: Night Tour, Escape Tour, Storm Tour, Chopper Tour, Dino Tour, and UFO Tour. Each has four separate tracks to enjoy that are specifically designed for the tour they’re in.
They are all dynamic and drastically different in their aesthetics, so each one brings something fun and unique to the table. Whether you’re dodging tornadoes, trying not to lose control in a massive storm, evading the jaws of a hungry T-Rex, or swerving around the giant Yeti that was trying to grab me, each tour delivers something ridiculously bonkers. And I for one am all for it.
The hilarity doesn’t stop at the level design either. Cruis’n Blast has tons of things to unlock. I say “things” because for every typical vehicle you can unlock, such as a Nissan GTR or a Hummer, there’s some equally outrageous option, such as a unicorn or a Triceratops. Each “vehicle” has additional things you can unlock as well, like paint jobs and engine upgrades. You gain access to these upgrades by using them frequently and leveling them up. This gives players more incentive to use each one to max out their stats, instead of only relying on one or two of your normal favorites. After a while I was obliterating my competition with a double decker bus after flipping over each opponent in my path while successfully avoiding a giant doughnut that’s been lit on fire by a UFO’s blast. That’s not a sentence I thought I’d ever say, but here we are. Welcome to Cruis’n Blast.
There’s also a shocking amount of replayability in Cruis’n Blast. In addition to unlocking each tour and vehicle, there are also keys hidden in every track. Eighty-seven of them to be exact. Some are easy to spot, but some are more cleverly hidden, made even more difficult to spot due to flying through each course at breakneck speeds. Keys are necessary for unlocking all the vehicles, so if you want that shark or UFO, you’ll have to get busy hunting. You can also strive for obtaining a gold trophy in each of the six tours under all four difficulty levels, if you’re so inclined.
I do have a few small gripes though. The first is that there is still no online multiplayer mode. Yes, you can couch co-op with up to four players, which is still fun, but this game would be even more amazing if you could inflict absurd havoc upon strangers from all over the world. Then again, this is Nintendo we’re talking about, who are sorely behind the times in the online multiplayer scene.
My next issue is that there really aren’t any other fun modes to choose from. You have the Classic Arcade mode, the Cruis’n Tour mode, and the Time Trial mode, but that’s it. I know a lot has been added in the way of new tracks, which I love, but it still feels like it’s missing something, especially in the absence of an online multiplayer mode. I think some sort of Battle mode or Challenges mode would have perfectly rounded out the experience.
Even with those trivial gripes, there’s still a lot to love about Cruis’n Blast. This is without a doubt the best looking Cruis’n game to date. The level designs are extremely creative and the color palettes are dynamic. However, there are some pretty big differences in graphical quality at times. For example, in the course with the Yeti, there’s a moment where he reaches for you trying to grab your vehicle and its hand looks surprisingly detailed. Then just after comes a moment where the floor gives way and the animations look like something you’d see on the Gamecube, as do the fighting Yetis just past that. Most of the time you’re going so fast you won’t see those graphical inconsistencies, but when they’re a part of the set pieces they’re highly noticeable.
Thankfully Cruis’n Blast manages to keep a fairly solid framerate of 60fps most of the time. The only time I really noticed it dropping was either after taking out a competitor (and no, I’m not talking about the purposeful slow down animation) or when you perform a turbo boost. The latter is really the only time it became any kind of an issue. Most of the game runs very well.
The sound design is solid as well. All of the sound effects are effective, from the screeching of tires, to the sound of crunching metal when you crash into something, to the roars of various monsters you’ll encounter. The soundtrack is great too, with energetic beats to keep your heart pumping through each race. My only issue is that the songs can sound repetitive after playing the game for a while. The main theme will get stuck in your head for days though. Cruuuuuuuis’nnnnn!
Cruis’n Blast is a triumphant return to the franchise after a very long wait in between games. Raw Thrills has definitely taken the right approach by fully embracing the absurd nature the series has been steadily implementing with each new iteration. It might not have the technical precision and realism of other racing games, but that’s not what the Cruis’n franchise is all about. If you’re looking for a ridiculously over-the-top arcade racing game, then look no further.Cruis’n Blast has got you covered.
The graphics are bright and vibrant, but won’t blow your socks off in terms of realism. But that’s not the point of the Cruis’n franchise. It mostly maintains a stable 60 fps, but that can occasionally drop while boosting.
This has the same high octane racing as before, only it handles much better than the older versions. Basically every Cruis’n fan’s dream.
The sound effects of the cars revving and tires screeching on the pavement are all well done. The music is up-tempo and energetic, albeit slightly repetitive after playing it a while.
If you’re looking for a realistic racing games, like the Forza series, then this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, ridiculously over-the-top racing experience, then Cruis’n Blast is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Cruis’n Blast is available now on Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Cruis’n Blast was provided by the publisher.