Drome Racers is
a racing game that carries the LEGO license, but if it wasnt for the
small logo on the back of the box you wouldnt 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 arent 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, youll 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.
is pretty standard, so dont 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
dont 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 isnt 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
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 isnt 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.