While the Cruis’n franchise took the arcade experience of the home consoles had been a varying success. However, for the handheld consoles, few options could entertain the possibility of containing the franchise’s entertaining potential. Some tried, like Cruis’n Exotica on the Game Boy Color, but the limitations were there. In 2001, the Game Boy Advance offered a new opportunity for another less-restricted portable option, that reworked the formula, attempted to do more, and offered players another chance to feel the fun on the open road itself in Cruis’n Velocity.
When you start fresh in Cruis’n Velocity, you don’t have much to begin with; a few cars and about two tracks to play on. Much like the other Cruis’n games, you have to compete in cups to unlock both cars and other racetracks to play on. Released just two years after Exotica, a lot of the game’s levels and sounds have been reworked to fit the hardware.
If you want to think of the Game Boy Advance as a glorified (yet portable) Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The S.N.E.S. had some tricks up its sleeve to bring high-speed racing to the home, with Mario Kart and F-Zero using sprite-based deception of Mode 7, techniques that the G.B.A. also used. Here Velocity, repurposed an engine, to push the Game Boy to deliver full 3.D. graphics for the scenery. The look does evoke the Ecks Vs. Sever G.B.A. game, and there are some cases where I wish the console had more of a colour palette, but any attempts to evolve the racing genre should be championed. Some cars also return, and although they don’t look as realistic as their console counterparts, they still are distinctive and fun enough to want to try out.
With a couple of repeats, the courses you have access to are an assorted collection from some highlights of Exotica’s track library. From Holland to Mars, a lot of the tracks remain. While the music is another element that had been put on the back burner during this conversion. Surprisingly most of the sounds do return, and it is also impressive that the Game Boy Advance hardware can reproduce some iconic samples from the original, from the iconic announcer, and the checkpoint sound effect.
Velocity amazes the player with how much the comparatively underpowered Game Boy Advance can reproduce. From the enthusiastic announcer to the more outlandish locales are still retained on the cartridge. It is pretty much the same classic Cruis’n experience on the go… at least a couple of decades before the release of Cruis’n Blast on the Switch showed you could have it. With some interesting creative challenges that the developers overcame to reach countless players. Cruis’n Velocity remains an oddity in innovation, one that went beyond what the competition did to stand out. As a game, Velocity reminds the player, of what it means to be extreme.
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