Friday, 27 October 2017

Lethal Crash Race (Arcade)

Lethal Crash Race is a game that can pay testament to the incredible popularity and influence of Street Fighter II on the arcade scene of the early nineties, as though it's not a fighting game, it clearly takes a lot of influence from Capcom's epoch-defining game. That's not to say that it's one of those racing games that's heavy on the fantasy and violence: though a lot of effort has clearly gone into ensuring that ramming your opponent's car is fun and satisfying, it's not an essential part of winning, nor are there projectile weapons or other power ups to be collected on the track.

Instead the influence is more structural and stylistic. There are eight characters to choose from, each with their own cars (all of which are mis-spelled knock-offs of real cars), and their own stages. Their own stages because rather than being a game in which you race a whole load of cars round stadiums for several laps, Lethal Crash Race instead has short one-on-one races of about a minute in length, along various linear tracks all across the world. Not only that, but each character also has different quotes for the beginning and end of each race, my favourite being the rich old man who cheerily declares "this might be my last race."

It's got a really nice feel to it, it's fast and smooth, and as mentioned, bashing into your opponent is satisfying. You're not going to destroy them, but you can knock them off the road, and into rivers or other obstacles. It looks great, too: though the style of the time was all sprite scaling, moving into low poly models, Lethal Crash Race puts up a good fight with its top-down view, having great-looking cars and nicely detailed stages. It looks kind of like if Grand Theft Auto was fully 2D and a bit more detailed and zoomed in, and since it's set up so that your car is always driving up the screen, there's a really cool rotating camera effect on tracks with big round turns.

Lethal Crash Race is a fun game with a cool and interesting concept and lots of charm, and I recommend that you go and play it. It's also yet another game that could easily have been ported to consoles, but inexplicably never was, and probably never will be.

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