Beetle Buggin (PC) Review
Presentation/Graphics : 85
The cars are also very well done, covering the entire line of early VW products plus the new Beetle, all in bright paint schemes. My personal favorite was the Peace Machine used in the bonus race for vans – it looks like it would have been right at home at Woodstock.
Nighttime races have cars with headlights that do an okay job lighting up the road ahead though nothing spectacular. There are supposed to be different weather conditions as well though in quite a bit of game play, I did not run races in anything but dry weather.
The only view of the racing is a chase cam that sometimes suffers from being so low that the car obscures the track ahead. I prefer a bumpercam view, even in an arcade game such as this.
Presentation/Audio : 80
Interface/Options : 90
Options are very limited, again with the goal of keeping the game simple for a younger audience. The main menu consists of six selections:
Each option is illustrated with an animated graphic such as a Beetle jumping up and down on the top step of the podium for the records page or a building with a flashing neon sign for the game options.
Gameplay : 80
There are five types of competition in the game:
Speed – Beetles race around a paved track complete with walls, tunnels, grass and sandtraps. I was at a disadvantage here because I kept trying to drive like I was in a simulation. The trick is just to slam around as hard as you can, not worrying about the “proper racing line” and avoiding the brakes whenever possible because they are actually too effective – it's better to slow the car by downshifting. The AI cars have no hesitation at all to swap paint, so you need to be just as aggressive as they are.
Buggy – These races are held on mixed surfaces – sand, rough terrain or paved – in dune buggies. The best way to pass in this setting is to throw the equivalent of a hip check into your opponent in a turn, putting him into terrain that will slow him down.
Cross – This was my favorite scenario. It's a stadium race where all sorts of vehicles compete from VW Things to desert buggies and it's pure chaos from start to finish. No lead is ever safe, since it's easy to bog down in a turn and allow the AI to catch right up again. This mode is also the one that places the greatest emphasis on driver skill. You can't win by driving around the corners as in the speed event but rather must broadslide using the handbrake, often having to make adjustments to your line at the last moment because of other cars that will invariably block your path.
Jump – Not much to this one. You go straight down the track, enlivened only by a slight s-curve and then punch your “nitro” button – I think they really mean “nitrous” – button to provide extra acceleration onto the ramp. I met the required distance on my third try…
Monster – Crush cars, swerve around obstacles, jump over ramps. It sounds easier than it really is because going too fast means hitting obstacles and being assessed a time penalty. Also, as you might expect, a monster truck doesn't handle well so it's necessary to slow way down to manage the curves.
There are several different tracks for each type of race, and further variations by time of day and direction of travel.
In the quick race mode, the player chooses what type of event he wishes to run with any of the available cars including the default cars for each plus any cars the player has purchased in other modes of play. This is mainly used for practice.
In Beetle Challenge mode, the players have access to the five different race types, each at four levels of competition – rookie, semi-pro, pro and master. You start out with only one car in each mode but earn points – the equivalent of money – which is used to purchase better vehicles. At the lower levels of the Challenge, only lower-performance cars are available so you can't just trample the competition with a car inappropriate for that class.
After you've reached the master level in each of the five race types, you're eligible to participate in the World Beetle Cup. Finish that, and you gain access to the Super New Beetle Challenge. I didn't reach that point in the game, but I did get a chance to drive a new Beetle in a bonus race and they are easily the best cars in the game, handling and accelerating more like a Porsche GT3 than a Volkswagen.
Championship mode consists of three levels where the player competes for points in a series of events in the speed, buggy and cross modes. It's win and move on, or, if you don't win, you are gently encouraged to repeat the same series until you do. You can't lose in Beetle Buggin'…
Replay Value: 35
Overall : 65