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by Infogrames

Acme1-01.jpg (4037 bytes)Kart racers are neither the most elegant nor the most ambitious titles around. The concept is pretty transparent, and technologically we haven’t seen much improvement since Mario 64, save mildly improved graphics. So it’s somewhat surprising and more than a little bit pleasing that they are consistently some of the most enjoyable games around.

Nebula2-01.jpg (5150 bytes)There’s a simple formula here that ought to be noted. Whether you’re playing Crazy Taxi or Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions, or Looney Tunes: Space Race, or a multitude of other fantastic games, there is a quantifiable quality that makes them fun to play. You get to drive really fast, smack into things, and there isn’t really much to worry about. Beyond that, there are significant differences in how these different games pan out, but that one simple, elegant concept compels them all.

Acme2-01.jpg (5461 bytes)As with many such things, however, it’s all in the details. Looney Tune: Space Racer has the details. Most of them anyway—more than enough to make it work, and that’s not always the case. So with a really simple concept that’s awfully easy to see, how can you screw up a kart racer? Consider Mad Dash for a moment. The failure here is complexity. While a sales person might call this depth, complexity is a much better term. Complexity is not an inherently negative term. In a lot of senses it’s actually quite positive. Kart racers are not meant to be complex. They’re meant to be fast, easy to start, easy to finish, with ample opportunities for smack talking.

WildWest3-01.jpg (5599 bytes)So the point of that rather lengthy diversion was to tell you that Looney Tunes is not an especially complex game, and that’s a good thing. It is, however, a pretty cool game. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer Willie Coyote, Yosemite Sam, virtually the whole crew is here, nine in all, and they make splendid characters for a kart racer. The environments, all Looney Tune inspired, are excellent. Daring jumps, hairpin turns, and endlessly deep holes are some of the obstacles found in the fourteen different tracks—two more than the Dreamcast version.

Pyramids2-01.jpg (6209 bytes)Of course, this really isn’t what Space Race is about. The real kicker here is the gags. While all kart racers have weapons of some sort, the gags in Space Race are a cut above. (incidentally, gags is far more aesthetically pleasing word, even if the gags really are weapons). Some Space Racing fool gets uppity, drop a safe on ‘em. Or a pink elephant. They’re both really cool, so it’s a matter of choice really. Or perhaps you can throw a rain cloud at them and wait for the inevitable lightning bolt. Of course there really is something especially pleasing about the acme spring powered boxing glove, though the portable hole is absolutely the most creative, ingenious device to enter a kart racer. There are plenty more gags to find and use, all of them fun and all of which help this not only look like a Looney Tunes game but feel like one too. The gags are ample and make a serious flirt with excessive. Race coinsures will likely find frustration at the bottom of every acme safe—and every other gag for that matter. Space Race is a lot more like a good old fashioned whipping gauntlet then it is a speed race. Though the best strategy is to take the fastest racer you can find and go buck naked crazy for a lap to put a little distance between you and the competition. Assuming, of course, that your reflexes are up to the task.

North1-01.jpg (6332 bytes)Looney Tunes isn’t a flawless game. If you played the Dreamcast version, there really isn’t a reason to play this title. Two more tracks are a nice but negligible addition—not worth the price of admission if you’ve played it already. Some more extras, such as more characters, should have been added to the aging Dreamcast port. The control is good but had room for improvement. The shoulder buttons act as a strafe, which feels awkward and unnatural, and carries you much too far across the track.

WildWest1-01.jpg (7266 bytes)The already enjoyable single player game is aided by the addition of challenges—more than forty, which add a new challenge to the usual racing routine. The multiplayer game is excellent as well, and Space Race will find a lot more playtime if you have a friend or three to play against—and a multitap of course.

Pyramids3-01.jpg (7961 bytes)Space Race is still a fantastic game. Though it’s beginning to age, it still doesn’t have much competition on the PS2. It’s worth a purchase if you like kart games—especially if you’ll make use of the multiplayer aspect. Fans of the Dreamcast original, however, should dust off the DC and go a few rounds. You won’t find much new and should pass, even on the rental.

Jeff Luther   (07/26/2002)


Ups: Looney Tunes characters; cool graphics; hectic gameplay; fun weapons.

Downs: Not many changes from the original Dreamcast version.

Platform: PlayStation 2