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The World's Wackiest Racers Racing!
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About the Game
Minor Character Spoilers
Character
Contraptions.
Wacky Races is one of the those games which you would of discounted immediately because it looked like one of the those cheap karting games. Which is ironic that this was one of the first PS2 games I got with the console, and remains one of my favourites. But Wacky Races isn't one of those cheap small budget games, far from it. It proves that you can make a good kart racer that isn't like that other series that I will not mention the name due to copyright reasons, but of course you know it’s Mario Kart I’m talking about.
Quote You may have deducted using your amazing detective skills that this is based off the 1960's TV series. If you are unfamiliar with the 60’s show, it’s a series that had a number of the wackiest racers across the planet, racing to become the world's wackiest racer. There were eleven different cars competing and all of the characters are playable – including the most famous of them all, Dastardly and Muttley. (Weirdly, there's been other Wacky Races games that you couldn’t play as him.)

Now here they are! The drivers competing for the title of worlds wackiest racer. Lining up on the starting grid: the Mean Machine, Boulder Mobile, Creepy Coupe, Convert-a-Car, Crimson Haybaler, Compact Pussycat, Army Surplus Special, Bulletproof Bomb, Arkansas Chuggabug, Turbo Terrific and the Buzzwagon. Just judging solely on those names, you can tell that each character and their vehicle are as wacky as each other. Although the only voice actor from the original series is Penelope Pitstop, the new voice actors feel like they come straight out of the show, with their trademark catchphrases and accents. This also includes the narrator, who can be quite funny in his own right.

Traditional kart racers tend to have similar handling and feel between the karts, with minor differences. Wacky Races does things differently, with each character has varying differences in driving characteristics and handling. Take the Army Surplus Special. It's quite a tall vehicle, which means it has bad grip, but on the other hand it has a good top speed. Knowing which vehicle is good on certain tracks is the key to win races, especially in the latter difficulty levels, where races get really... erm... wacky.

There's also something you should consider when picking a racer. Weapons are provided to spice up the action. It wouldn't be very wacky without weapons would it? Unlike the usual random picked weapons, each character has their own unique weapons and gadgets. To use them, the player must collect purple tokens scattered without the track. The number of tokens needed depends on the contraption in question.

These gadgets are split into a number of types. Most characters have a choice of two weapons, a flying ability, a shield, a boost and something to drop as a hazard on track. Only three of these gadgets can be used per race, so you need to decide what gadgets you need before starting. Do you need weapons? A boost? A shield?
[Wacky Races]See those gadgets on the left hand side? The bubblegum shield is especially awesome. Yep, some of the gadgets are that wacky.
These things make it feel the game a little more strategic as your choice differs from track to track. For example, the Bulletproof Bomb has a great boost and weapons, but their hazard and flying abilities aren't very good. The Creepy Coupe on the other hand has great hazards but only one attack. And then the Crimson Haybaler has an excellent boost, but a weak weapon. Sometimes you need a boost, whereas weapons are the priority. Choices, choices, choices…

So what are the tracks like? All 25 tracks are grouped together in particular themes, with each track offering something different. Lakes, sandy dunes, snowy mansions, sewers, football stadiums, mines, lumber yards and more awaits you. Each of the five types of race tracks also has a battle arena, so you need different skills to win in those...

I haven't even mentioned the game's trump card yet – the adventure mode. Like Crash Team Racing, you have different game modes to race through. This gives some depth, and means you are not just playing the same tracks over and over again. This is one major way that Wacky Races is not a “copy”.

Track challenges, Wacky cups, Golden Muttley challenges (collect 10 trophies scattered without the track and come in 1st place), Battle modes and the team 00 KO challenge (race to stay from last place, otherwise you get knocked out) are the modes on offer, and lengthen the game considerably. Once you have enough stars and clocks (won by winning events), you also have boss races, where you unlock new gadgets for all the other racers by beating them or have the chance to unlock and drive them.

Let's face it, the characters in the original TV show didn't exactly play by the rules, so shortcuts in Wacky Races have almost unlimited possibilities. Proper shortcuts do exist, but because of the wackiness of the gadgets, vehicles and tracks, players can plan their own, without fear of a penalty, invisible walls or out of bounds alerts. On one of the snow tracks for example, the player can use the helicopter gadget to fly over a lake, cutting the corner of the circuit, racing ahead of the competition. You need to learn all the “shortcuts” you can to beat all the challenges in adventure mode.


Closing Thoughts
Excellent Excellent
The wackiness of the tracks and characters. The unique gadget system. An entertaining battle mode. A fun adventure mode. These are the things that defines Wacky Races starring Dastardly and Muttley. It's one of the most underrated games I've ever come across, as the new and fresh ideas make this a unique experience, and I still enjoy playing even to this day. If you want a different take on the Kart racer and an alternative to CTR and Mario Kart, this is it.

My One Big Highlight
Spiderman By beating every challenge and collecting every Star and Clock, you unlock the Dastardly and Muttley challenge. Once you manage to beat them, you finally are able to play as the Dastardly Duo! They are the strongest character and rightly so. With shrink rays, sticky glue and a helicopter, it's a great end of game bonus, and makes it worthwhile to hunt down everything. No cheating you here me?
Elephant In the Room
elephant The only thing that you could say was a “bad” thing about this particular version of Wacky Races, is it isn't as faithful to the original TV show as some of the other games. That may be true in a way, but don’t forget that these other Wacky Races games: the 1991 game, Mad Motors and Crash and Dash turned out to be awful. So it's definitively a trade-off – but worth it in the long run, wouldn’t you say?