Speed Racer‘s main selling point is hills. Instead of flatness, there are hills. But, of course, the hills have no impact on gameplay at all, except to make it more difficult to tell what’s going on. Speed Racer ultimately falls short in every way, besides being hillly. For fans of the television series, it’s barely relevant. The game chugs along at a healthy four frames per second, which, while arguably enough to steer by, doesn’t really cut it for most organisms with ocular organs. There’s absolutely no fun to be had here. The car does two things: boost and jump. The only reason to boost is if you feel like advancing exactly one position forward in the racing order. There is no reason to jump, unless you didn’t see a garbage can coming, which is possible since the game only draws the road a second in advance.
All this, the poor framerate, the bad draw distance, the similar tracks, could have been fixed if only the engine wasn’t spending all of its time rendering hills. I don’t like hills! Seems like the designers could have at least put together an AI that doesn’t just wait until you’ve moved out of third position, then promptly put you right back there. The game is designed so that you have to boost at the last minute to win. Otherwise, they will catch you.
The biggest problem with this game, by far, is the unforgiving nature of the damage system. If you get hit four or five times, your car is wrecked. For this reason, it was nearly impossible to move past the first lap. According to the Wiki, there’s some sort of platforming element to this game. Well, I can’t verify that, because the first lap was a doozy. I’m sure it’s right shit though. I did manage to take a pit stop, once. But it was unsatisfying; it consisted entirely of a little boy crawling underneath my car and then giving me the thumbs up sign. He never got out from under there, so I assume he used his body to brace the broken parts of the car. Poor kid.
I’ve never seen a Speed Racer cartoon, nor have I seen the movie. If you like either of those things, I doubt you’d like this. It’s just awful. It wouldn’t stand up as a cellphone game for a cellphone with a black and white display.