- NA release: 18th March 1999
- PAL: release: N/A
- JP release: N/A
- Developer: Midway, Atari
- Publisher: Midway
- N64 Magazine Score: 36%
California Speed seems like what the Cruis’n games would be like if they were competently made. California Speed is the same style of arcade racer (it even has the same useless radar), yet feels much more stable. That said, it has its own set of ups and downs.
The tracks in California Speed are a great spectacle. In the first track alone you’ll drive through a city, across a beach, through an aquarium and over a gold course. Others have you driving through the inside of a computer, through a volcano, riding a rollercoaster track, navigating a mall, visiting some aliens and over the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the tracks is a miniature California (a bit like the USA map in Pilotwings), where you plough through skyscrapers.
While the tracks look nice and keep you wandering what will crop up nice, they’re really, really boring when it comes to actually driving on them. Most are wide, straight and with very few turns (not that the cars can manage sharp turns), so once you’ve played it once, you’ll have no interest in trying again. For a few races I even held the controller awkwardly in one hand, with the accelerator held town and using the tip of my thumb to steer, while drinking a cup of tea with my mind on something else. And still won.
As an arcade game, working your way though the game to see what crazy thing comes next is something that might be appealing. But as you’ll never want to play any of the tracks a second time, it doesn’t translate well to a home console. It’s sad as there are some imaginative ideas, they just don’t play well.
Califonia Speed, then, is driving horse manure of the highest order. Not perhaps quite in the same league as Cruis’n USA but definitely well on the way to getting there. It’s a boring N64 game derived from a boring arcade game derived from an idea sketched on the back of a napkin in MacDonalds by not-very-talented programmers. Bit harsh? Wait till you plat it.Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #28
Remake or Remaster?
A Midway Racer collection would be nice. Perhaps even allow to mix racing styles, tracks and vehicles from different games.
Official Ways to get the game
There’s no official way to play California Speed.
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