“Man, I sure wish somebody would revive the much loved Runabout series and rename it Crash City Mayhem!”
Just to be clear, nobody has ever said that…..ever! And with good reason; the Runabout series was never much good in the first place, and believe it or not, after a few years in the wilderness, hasn’t improved one iota. Even if it was a passable, budget racer back in the PS2 / Dreamcast era, Runabout, or Crash City Mayhem as it is now known in Europe, now feels outrageously outdated and, despite its arcade handling and chunky visuals, is completely lacking in the kind of simple aesthetic charm that made so many Dreamcast era games quite so much fun and often surprisingly easy on the eyes. Also, and perhaps more damagingly, unlike the arcade racers of yesteryear, Crash City Mayhem is totally lacking the finesse and hook required to make the minute to minute gameplay enjoyable in a game of this ilk.
It’s a terrible thing to say, but one of Rocket Company and Ghostlight’s greatest achievements in the creation of the dismally poor, Crash City Mayhem on 3DS is that it is mercifully short. With only a handful of missions to get through and a Free Mode that few will bother with, Crash City Mayhem is a game that is over before you know it, offering up very little in the way of incentive to return and very little fun along the way. In terms of content, this feels like an old game. In terms of visuals and gameplay, this feels like an old game. I know, some old game are good, right? Well, yes. Sadly, this isn’t one of them.
The gameplay is, at its best passable, and there are arguably worse racers out there (although that is up to debate), but everything here is so bland, so uninspiring and so completely lacking in appeal that it is almost impossible to recommend. I am actually a huge fan of arcade racers, and on paper at least, this game should be right up my alley, but unlike the Ridge Racer’s, OutRun’s, Daytona’s and Sega Rally’s of this world, Crash City Mayhem feels stilted, uninspired and completely without joy. Even the relatively weak Crash Time series (one which immediately came to mind upon picking this up) feels both technically and artistically superior in just about every way.
With missions offering little more than a simple A to B to C chase through a graphically limited (both technically and artistically) city, Crash City Mayhem does little to keep you hooked into its systems with little sense of progression and very little in the way of reward. There is a story attached in which you play an ex-spy who now completes pick-ups and getaways for undesirable types (not as fun as its sounds), but the story, presentation and writing is so consistently terrible as to be borderline embarrassing. Perhaps they were going for that old school OutRun visual style (your spy come delivery man does share a resemblance with the OutRun racer) and purposefully going for cheesy dialogue, but again, due to the game lacking the kind of charm that ran so effortlessly through Sega’s finest arcade racers, it instead comes across as lazy, incompetent and technically ugly.
The actual racing itself, is, well, ok I suppose, but it’s certainly not entertaining enough to get you through the games’ myriad of poor design choices and technical limitations. The drift mechanic works fine and the different vehicles do offer distinctive handling, but the fact of the matter is, the game never feels fun – a truly unforgiveable omission for an arcade racer.
Crash City Mayhem may be criminally short of content, but saying that, two of my favourite racers from last gen (the Daytona and Sega Rally Online revamps) had very little in the way of content. The difference is, those games made up for it with pitch perfect gameplay that kept me coming back to the same tracks time and time again – Crash City Mayhem does not have that hook. The missions are uninspired, the visuals, writing and audio uninspired and technically poor and the gameplay, while competent on a purely base level, is completely lacking in the kind of finesse and polish that make the best arcade racers stand out from the crowd. The 3DS is hardly renowned for its array of first rate racers, but do yourself a favour a buy Ridge Racer 3D instead.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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