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Cruis'n Blast Discussion (Nintendo Switch) [game]
Cruis'n Blast on the Switch
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05/28/23, 14:45  
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Almost 30 years ago, the first Cruis'n racing game, Cruis'n USA, hit the arcades and people...played it. I think? I honestly haven't kept up with this series at all, and my experience with it is very limited. I played Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n World on the N64 at a friend's house, like once. In light of this it's probably a bad idea for me to make the official Cruis'n Blast discussion thread, but there was noone here to stop me, and now we all have to live with it.

This is what the 90's was like, kids. Commuting was hell on account of all the goddamn dinosaurs.

In 2017, developer Raw Thrills and original series creator Eugene Jarvis made a brand new arcade title called Cruis'n Blast, and in 2021 they ported it to the Switch, with a bunch of new tracks, cars, features, bells and possibly also whistles. Instead of just the handful of tracks available in the arcades, the Switch version has 24 additional ones playable in four different difficulty settings, time trials, single races, four player split-screen multiplayer and LAN multi.

A pretty decent increase in value compared to the arcade version right there, but at the same time far below current industry standards, with no online component whatsoever. No online multiplayer or even online leaderboards for your best times. This is symptomatic of the game's underlying design philosophy; people who want to play arcade style racing the way it was made 20 years ago, with modern quality of life upgrades, but without modern ideas or gameplay features, are going to find exactly what they're looking for. Everyone else will have to figure out if they think that they can get enough enjoyment out of this game at the 20 bucks it's currently going for.

The game is fun enough, but it could use some extra polish in most areas. Case in point: Caught Jesus T-posing.

As a racing game, Cruis'n Blast is very straight forward. The game's standard mode consists of 24 levels divided into six different cups, all of which have different themes. For example, one is set entirely at night, one is set during various harsh weather conditions, and one is set during an alien invasion. The devs have basically just thrown in whatever they've felt was cool, without any regard for realism or consistency, much in the same way devs did back in the 90's. This is also evident looking at the vehicle roster, which has everything from Cadillac convertibles and Nissan sportscars to tanks, choppers and friggin' dinosaurs.

It's got all your favourites. Everything from Corvette Stingrays to actual, literal fish.

All of the cars...er, vehicles...er...things, can be customized using the experience points you earn for playing, and the cash you earn or find in bundles hidden throughout the tracks. New cars - I'm just gonna say cars, okay - can be unlocked by finding keys that are stashed away in the game's many hidden shortcuts and alternate paths. There are 23 cars in total, most of which are unlockables, which helps give the game some sort of feeling of progression that it's otherwise mostly lacking.

See, this is not a game you play for the progression, the completion or the community. If you're gonna play this, you're gonna have to play this for the sake of the arcade style racing, and when it comes the racing, Cruis'n Blast delivers an authentic turn of the millennium arcade experience, for better and for worse.

You've got your gas, you've got your breaks, you've got your drifting and your nitro blast, and that's about it. It's simple, but intuitive and responsive. The cars have an appropriate sense of weight and inertia for a game of this type, and it feels equally rewarding to tackle a car into the outdoor seating of a restaurant as it does to hit a jump and fly across blocks of houses while fireworks go off. It's not realistic in the slightest, but it's believable enough, if that makes sense. And it runs pretty well.

In England, they drive on the left hand side of the road. Also, when they hit a lamppost, they receive money. It's a fascinating place.

The game runs at a (mostly) stable 60 frames per second in both handheld and docked mode, and it looks good in an ugly way. Or maybe it looks ugly in a good way. It looks sharp and the action is easy to read, but at the same time Cruis'n Blast is an orgy of color, flashy effects and excessive set piece elements. It's as if Raw Thrills went back in time and handed a Dreamcast dev modern workstations, but didn't give them any modern day knowledge to use, so the devs just used the exact same type of graphical effects they were used to, and turned them up to eleven.

Cruis'n Blast looks - and I mean this in the best possible way - like someone threw up a bag of radioactive skittles all over your screen.

For example: Reflective surfaces are everywhere. The chrome on the cars reflects the sky and the wet cobble stones on the road reflect the neon signs, but it's all canned reflections. It's all clearly fake in a way that doesn't hold up against modern games, even those without ray tracing, but it's also flashy in all the ways we wanted games to be, a couple of decades ago. It's not impressive, it's not aesthetically pleasing, it's not...good... but it still feels good to look at, somehow.

If you're looking for the type of old school racing experience, where it's perfectly normal to drive a shark across a bridge that crumbles and has you fall down into a forgotten underworld, moments before you speed through the streets of London as the London Eye rolls back and forth across your path, and you're prepared to pay 20 bucks for it, this is for you. If you're feeling even the slightest sense of hesitation, you're probably better off just moving on with your life and playing Mario Kart or Forza Horizon or something. The world has moved on, and it's up to us if we want to join it. Raw Thrills have made their choice.
05/28/23, 14:46   
Edited: 05/29/23, 00:45
I bought this game shortly before going on a month-long vacation where I brought the 3DS and the Switch stayed home, but you've inspired me to finally give it a spin. It's basically everything I expected: a loud, over-the-top arcade racer with lots of "oh shit" moments (the ground sure breaks a lot, leading me to believe the game takes place on a hollow Earth). It's fun!

I will need to spend some time and figure out how exactly I can use the wheelie to my advantage.

I'm also surprised how sturdy the bike is. I'm taking down other racers left and right.
05/30/23, 23:03   
I know I harped on about it being dated in many ways, but yeah, it is fun!

I should probably know how the wheelie works, given that I have spent a few hours with the game, but I just use it as the last act of a desperate man when I'm out of nitro and need to come in first. Not sure if the wheelie actually makes me go faster by that much, if at all, though. It also lets you do tricks, but I'm not sure if they do anything either. Maybe there's a hidden depth to all of this that is worth looking into. A rabbit hole, into the hollow Earth, if you will.

Speaking of depth: Eugene Jarvis talked about DLC and online multi being added, but that was almost two years ago, and I guess that fell through. Shame. I might have paid a couple of bucks for a few extra levels.
05/31/23, 00:03   
Edited: 05/31/23, 00:04
r_hjort said:
I played Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n World on the N64 at a friend's house, like once.

05/31/23, 20:22   
I finally picked this up not too long ago. I loved Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n World back in the day. The theme songs still pop into my head from time to time.

I only ended up breaking this new edition out when I was with some friends. We had a lot of fun for that hour or so but then Zelda came out. I'd like to go back in and unlock everything, or at least experience everything. I feel like this series holds a lot less of my attention and interest than it used to, BUT, that's probably because of the caliber of games and my free time, not so much the series itself straying from what made it great before.
06/19/23, 17:13   
Nice writeup!

I guess they weren't popular because I remember buying all three Cruis'n cartridges used for super cheap back in the day. Pretty sure we rented Cruis'n USA shortly after we received our N64 as I have a very early memory of it. While they were certainly never a fave of mine, I did enjoy the ardcadey gameplay that forgoes any sort of realism to focus on the speed and thrill of racing. Popping a wheelie over oncoming traffic is always fun! The third game, Exotica, is when the series started getting weird, featuring tracks like an alien base on Mars and vehicles like a fork lift; sounds like Blast takes that even further.

I haven't played Cruis'n Blast, but I own it. Glad to see it captures the spirit of the series.
06/23/23, 19:01   
I recently played this game again for the first time in a long time. It really is absolutely a...blast.

It feels almost like a roller coaster ride than a racing game, at least sometimes. It's pretty wild.

Wish we got online multiplayer added or at least leaderboards. Oh well.
07/23/23, 17:49   
Edited: 07/23/23, 17:50
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