Game Over Online ~ Woody Woodpecker Racing

GameOver Game Reviews - Woody Woodpecker Racing (c) Konami, Reviewed by - Cody Nicholson

Game & Publisher Woody Woodpecker Racing (c) Konami
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II-233, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 0%
Date Published Thursday, December 21st, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Divider Left By: Cody Nicholson Divider Right

And we were on such a role too. Heading into the holidays, the last eight games reviewed here at Game Over had all scored over 75%, that is until Woody Woodpecker and his pals zoomed out of Konami to ruin Christmas for everybody. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but this game is as bad as Woody Woodpecker's laugh is annoying. It's hard to believe that the creators of such highly acclaimed titles as Castlevania and Metal Gear Solid could come up with such dull and unimaginative games as The Grinch and Woody Woodpecker Racing, but here you have it. Amongst its numerous downfalls, Woody Woodpecker Racing's greatest flaw is the fact it misses its target audience completely due to the ridiculously difficult gameplay.

Woody Woodpecker Racing is the latest in a long line of franchise-based kart racing games, a genre that includes Acclaim's South Park Rally and Infogrames' Wacky Races, just to name a couple. Woody Woodpecker Racing features the usual assortment of kart racing goodies: a cast of familiar cartoon characters that includes the Sly Bird himself along with Winnie Woodpecker and Chilly Willy, an assortment of tracks to gear up for, a variety of items and power-ups, and of course a plethora of racing modes including Trial, Quest, Championship and Multi-player races. It's a formula that has hatched some very popular kart racing games over the years, but one that has also seen it's share of generic and uninspiring spawns. Unfortunately, Woody Woodpecker Racing falls into that second category.

Based on the Saturday morning cartoon, Woody Woodpecker Racing is clearly geared towards a younger audience. However, when you factor in how difficult this game actually is, it's hard to believe Konami had the youngsters in mind when they designed this title. Even on the easiest difficulty level, I had a hard time finishing first in many of the races. For starters, some of the turns are incredibly difficult to negotiate. It takes careful braking skills to master some of the corners in Woody Woodpecker Racing and I just can't see younger gamers managing them too well, let along using the brakes period. As if the turns weren't bad enough, the highly skilled computer opponents are worse. As with most kart racing games, Woody Woodpecker Racing is designed to make sure the trailing pack can always catch up to the leader. As an added bonus, Woody Woodpecker Racing also appears designed to make sure that you're one of those trailers. I ended up stealing many of my first place finishes with last-minute antics or power-ups, I was never able to hang onto the lead for very long myself. One of the reasons why is because I was constantly beat up on by fellow racers. Each racer, along with a variety of power-ups and weapons, is equipped with an attack button that allows them to lay the smackdown on a driver racing beside them. Getting hit with a side attack generally sends you flying and spinning straight up in the air, an event that happens far too often and becomes frustrating very quickly.

Difficulty level aside, Woody Woodpecker Racing is unappealing for a variety of other reasons as well. While the game offers a few unique twists on the genre, there's very little follow through on those ideas. An example is the ability to race vehicles other than just the regular karts. Players can race in karts, stock cars, all-terrain vehicles and jalopies, but the problem is that none of these different vehicles add new play mechanics, they all handle the same, which essentially voids it's unique quality. The only difference between driving a stock car and an all-terrain vehicle in Woody Woodpecker Racing is the visuals. The same can be said for the side attacks that each character possesses. Sure, you can peck fellow drivers with Woody's beak, or slap them upside the head with a fish from Chilly Willy, but it's not as neat as it sounds. The attacks all look the same, not to mention it's rather difficult to time a side attack. It's nice to see Konami attempt to bring a new dimension to the kart racing genre, but in this instance it just didn't pan out.

Graphically, Woody Woodpecker Racing has a definitive console look and feel to it. The track environments, while colourful, lack any kind of visual flare. The effects from the weapon and power-ups are bland and the character and vehicle animations are terrible. The tracks themselves are rather unimaginative. There are no hidden areas or shortcuts to pursue and while new tracks and characters unlock at certain points in the game, there's very little reason to keep playing Woody Woodpecker Racing due in large part to the incredibly frustrating gameplay. The only highpoint for the game lies in the audio department. It's nothing spectacular, but the game does have a collection of voice samples along with a solid soundtrack. Fans of the Woody Woodpecker cartoons will instantly recognize their favourite characters.

The power-ups in Woody Woodpecker Racing are rather uninventive. You can use rotten tomatoes, tire tacks, dynamite and a variety of other items, but their effects aren't particularly entertaining. Woody Woodpecker Racing also supports multi-player via a split screen, but the races are as difficult as they are in single player, not to mention as boring. Throw in a handful of visual glitches and a number of crashes and you've got Woody Woodpecker Racing in a nutshell. Oh, did I forget to mention that the only method of control available is the keyboard? That's right, put those steering wheels and gamepads aside, you won't be able to use them here.

When the checkered flag comes out and the champagne is poured, Woody Woodpecker Racing is as generic a kart racing game as they come. Those features that are unique to the title, like the vehicle variety and the side attack, aren't significant enough to overshadow the extremely poor and frustrating gameplay, the lackluster visuals and the limited controls. For a game intended for younger audiences, Woody Woodpecker Racing misses the boat completely. Bottom line, steer clear of Woody Woodpecker Racing.

[ 12/50 ] Gameplay
[ 04/10 ] Graphics
[ 06/10 ] Sound
[ 03/10 ] Multiplayer
[ 03/10 ] Controls
[ 02/10 ] Fun Factor


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