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Drome Racers
game: Drome Racers
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: THQ
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Aug 26th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Aug 26th, 2003

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By Eric Qualls

Drome Racers is a racing game that carries the LEGO license, but if it wasn't for the small logo on the back of the box you wouldn't even know it. It is almost as if THQ was trying to hide the fact that this was a LEGO game. That is understandable, though, as very few of the games based on this license have ever managed to be anything better than average. Sadly, Drome Racers follows this same pattern of mediocrity and all we are left with is an average racer with ugly graphics that most gamers would be better off avoiding.

Just what is a Drome Racer, you might ask? Drome Racers are a line of LEGO toys that consist of racecars enhanced with "pull back and go" motors and even radio controls. The draw here is that you can swap out engines and various other parts in order to improve your car. There are several teams and lots of unique cars on each team. This is all out there in the real world in the LEGO aisle at your nearest Toys R Us.

In the game, most of the things that made the toys interesting have made their way into the game. Fans of the toys will giggle with delight as they are able to choose their favorite teams and vehicles. The upgrading aspect is present in the game as well. You earn new parts based on how well you finish each race and earning these new parts is vital in progressing through the game. Fans of the toys will appreciate the details from the toys that appear in the game, but if you aren't familiar with the license, Drome Racers is just an average racer with a funky name.

All of the modes you would expect are included , quick race, time attack, etc.- but the meat of the gameplay is in the championship mode. Here, you'll take a team through several races and four different championship cups. The racing is split into two different types: road racing and drag racing. The championship races themselves are road races, but you can determine your starting position and also win extra money by running drag races.

Road racing is pretty standard, so don't expect much here. There are weapons and speed boosts strewn about the tracks and it is up to you to collect and use them on your way to the finish line. The computer controlled cars don't ever do anything all that aggressive to try and take the lead from you, so if you make good use of your powerups it is pretty easy to get in the lead and stay there. The easiest way to win is to not hit the walls, obviously, but due to the cruddy handling and so-so track design and poor graphics it is easier said than done.

The drag races take place from a first-person view from inside the cockpit. There isn't much to see, but listening to the whine of the engine or watching your RPMs and shifting at just the right moment is undeniably satisfying. It is really nothing more than slamming on the gas and shifting up through the gears at the optimum moment, but it is surprisingly fun and adds quite a bit to a game that is otherwise pretty boring.

Graphically, Drome Racers is hideous. The cars look pretty good and look enough like their real-life counterparts that you can recognize them, but the tracks are absolutely awful. The first thing that I thought of when I started a race was "Super FX chip". For you youngsters, the Super FX chip was a new technology used in a few SNES carts that utilized polygons to make games look more realistic, or something. Back then, games like Starfox and Stunt Race FX were impressive simply because they were different. Nowadays, however, the too-simple shaded polygons just look like a bunch of triangles and rectangles ran through a big blender full of crap. Because of the graphical style used, navigating the tracks in Drome Racers is made more difficult simply because the road and the walls and background all look pretty much the same so it is hard to tell just where the road is. The game also fails to offer any sense of speed because it looks and feels the same whether you are going 35mph or 350mph.

The sound is a lot better than the graphics, but that isn't saying much. The engine and crowd noises in the road races are pretty muddy, and the music will grate on you after a while. In the drag races, however, the sound of the engine is unexpectedly good. You can base your shifting entirely on the sound of the engine, and that is saying a lot for a GBA game.

Overall, Drome Racers is average in every respect. If you are a fan of the Drome Racers LEGO toys, you will probably find something to like about it and it may be worth a purchase just to be able to use your favorite cars somewhere other than the living room floor. For everyone else, Drome Racers is the same racer you have probably played a hundred times before, except this time it looks a lot worse than usual.