Crazy Frog Racer 2 PS2 Review
Y’know, I actually missed out on the whole Crazy Frog thing. Well, not so much ‘missed out on’, as ‘successfully avoided’ – largely because you have to be an arsehole to actually watch MTV for long enough that you’ll see a Jamster advert (mind you, last time I checked, that only took about twenty seconds). Point is, I want it to be made clear that I approached Crazy Frog Racer 2 with an open mind, despite the general awfulness that apparently surrounds its main character, and the fact that it’s basically aimed at kids.
A quick look through the instruction booklet set a few alarm bells ringing, though. Right after the obligatory health warnings and stuff on the inside front cover, you’re presented with “ALSO AVAILABLE: CRAZY FROG ‘MORE CRAZY HITS’ – THE ALBUM (CD + BONUS DVD)”. Yes, apparently the booklet’s aim of instructing the player is secondary to the objective of selling you the latest Crazy Frog album. Good start. A couple of pages on, you’re told that you can “try to beat your records in the time trails”. And don’t forget that “The Shied will protect you for a short while. You can use it for example when your about to win”. Who the hell was paid to proof-read this crap? I’ll tell you: no-one bloody was. Considering the target audience, they might as well have gone all the way and just written the whole thing in txt spk instead.
Still, is the game any good? D’you want the long answer, or the short one?
Oh. Well, tough.
You’ve played Mario Kart, right? Good. Everyone and their mother has played Mario Kart, and there’s a good reason for that – it’s fantastic in just about all of its incarnations. It’s a solid racing game with an incredibly well-balanced weapons system (so well-balanced, in fact, that it merits a battle mode that’s set apart from the regular races). Now, imagine a racing game starring a cast of entirely charmless characters that takes all the good ideas from Mario Kart, misunderstands them entirely, then tries to re-create them. That’s right – you’re thinking of Crazy Frog Racer 2.
If there was any justice in the world, that’d be the press quote on the box. Still, I’d better back it up with a few examples.
In Mario Kart, you pick up items on the track, and are given ‘better’ items (say, a lightning bolt that shrinks all your opponents) if you appear to be losing. Staying in first place for any length of time, on the other hand, will get you much less impressive toys to play with (a banana skin, for example). If you want to impress your friends, you can point out that this is called a negative feedback system. It acts as an automatically-adjusting handicap, so that inexperienced players can hold their own against veterans. It gets more complicated when you bare in mind that skilled use of the banana skin allows a player to block incoming attacks, but you get the idea. It’s designed so that all the players stay close together, leading to much more interesting races. Crazy Frog Racer 2 takes this idea and messes it up completely. You can tell they’ve gone for a similar system – performing badly gets you good weapons, and vice-versa. But it doesn’t work. Almost every race sees you either sitting in last place, completely unable to attack any of your opponents due to the short range of the weapons you’re given, or you’re constantly in the lead, picking up a load of items that are basically useless because your opponents are too far behind to attack you anyway. The result of each race seems to be decided within the first thirty seconds or so – after that, the racers become separated, and you spend the next few minutes just going through the motions, effectively doing the course on your own despite knowing the inevitable outcome. Games are meant to engage their players, not have them staring slack-jawed at the TV while their brains occasionally chip in with “Christ, I have to do another lap?”.
Then there’s battle mode. God, what a waste of time. Two people clumsily flying around a tiny, cramped arena, trying desperately to shoot each other until one of them gives up and just flies down the nearest pitfall enough times to make the game end.
And don’t even get me started on the mini-games. Don’t.
But, hey – let’s talk aesthetics! On the whole, the game doesn’t look astonishingly bad. Just a bit dull, really. The only notable moment of levity being the course that sees you travelling between two cities – one medieval, one futuristic. That was nice. Other than that, it’s all pretty plain.
Then there’s the music. Oh God, the music. Mostly dreadful re-hashes of well-known pop songs with Crazy Frog samples thrown in for good measure. One of the music tracks in the game is a totally re-recorded version of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”. Now, the permission to use the original song and add a few Crazy Frog samples over the top can’t have cost more than about 6p, so we can only assume that the reason for the game using a re-recorded version is more to do with your average Daily Mail reader not wanting their impressionable young children to turn gay.
I could go on, but summing up Crazy Frog Racer 2 is easy. It is every bit the lazy cash-in that everyone expected it to be. Released just in time both for Christmas and the release of a new Crazy Frog album, it’s broken in the most important places and just plain dull or irritating in the rest. You want to buy something nice for your kids to play on their PS2? Get them a copy of We Love Katamari, and help stave off the apocalypse for just a few more seconds, aye?
Don’t insult your kids’ intelligence with this crap. They deserve better.