Cruis’n (2007)

The inevitable march of time means that everything will eventually change. None more so than fashion trends, what was cool at the start of the decade, might be flipped on its head five years on. In 2007, after a short hiatus, the beloved arcade racing franchise, got a reboot, one to be grittier and grounded to embrace the changing trends of virtual street racing, in Cruis’n.

The graphics have had an overhaul, but some sprites remain!

You can either complete a circuit race, where you must place in the top three to unlock a new track, or you can play on any track unlocked in the arcade mode. These races are useful to earn the money needed to upgrade your selected car. The same rules still apply, of course, you build up a career of racing through locations like Times Square and the Golden Gate Bridge, dodging traffic and other obstacles that stand between you and first place.

Cruis’n returns to more grounded locaations, like Times Square.

The world of fictional street racing has certainly evolved since the console debut of the Cruis’n franchise over a decade prior. Fresh competition from the likes of Midnight Club and Need For Speed brought a more gritty and realistic tinge to the genre. It is in the face of this changing environment that Cruis’n does make some customisations to its formula. For a start, the cars are all licenced vehicles that you can buy in real life, as opposed to the inventive yet generic vehicles that have been a staple of the franchise. You can also improve and customise the cars in your collection, from a simple paint job to a lot more. Offering a great excuse to encourage continued racing and earning cash too. You can also inject some nitrous oxide to give you a boost, as you are awarded for any brief moments of airtime, rewarding you for pulling off stunts like wheelies, and the like.

You now drive real cars and customise them beyond recognition!

Obviously, in the two generations since the Nintendo 64, the turn of the century graphics have been vastly improved (although the crowd are still sprites). The game makes ample use of the Wii’s unique selling point; the Wii mote’s motion controls allow for some immersive driving, just one of the many games that tried to embrace the console’s gimmick for a breath of fresh air gameplay-wise. In a way, Cruis’n coming back to the Wii feels a lot like Rampage: Total Destruction. Another Midway classic that saw a revamped reboot, a property that has been on the sidelines, but has quickly picked up on the new home of the Nintendo Wii.

Cruis’n embraces some new ideas, like Airtime and the Wii’s motion controls.

While the motion controls of the Wii do add a new dimension to the classic arcade experience, the upgraded graphics and the slightly revamped gameplay do feel enough for players to get back behind the driving wheel. The focus on real cars, and earning dollars for upgrades, does feel more in step with the changing world. Before became the subject of ridiculous premises and ridicule that the titans of the genre attracted. Cruis’n makes a return to the joyride that is the series, one that isn’t afraid to get with the times.

Some things do remain the same!

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