Cars «

There was potential hiding in this little cartridge, but for whatever reason, Helixe and THQ decided that the GameBoy Advance version of Disney & Pixar’s Cars either wasn’t worth their time, or wasn’t worth ours. How else can we explain a little racing game that’s enjoyable while it lasts, but is over less than an hour after it begins? Cars for the GBA amounts to little more than the usual movie cash-in, thanks to its brevity. If there was more to it, we could actually see the value in picking up a copy, but as it is, there’s simply nothing to it — at least, not enough to warrant spending money.

Your goal as Lightning in Cars is to win the Piston Cup. Doing so requires unlocking subsequent racetracks by completing circuit races and qualifying events. These tracks are a combination of on-road and off-road terrain, and driving consists of holding down the A button to accelerate and using the control pad to steer right or left, drift around corners, and get a boost from the occasional green arrow on the road. You brake by pressing the B button, but we never had much occasion to use it. These episodes are incredibly easy but still reasonably entertaining, thanks to decent physics and some tight turns.


Completing these races rewards you with the next Piston Cup course, as well as new colors and vehicles from the film, although there are very few of them and none of them are appreciably different from Lightning. You also unlock “screenshots,” although these aren’t winning shots from the game, but stills from the film, and none of them are very enticing. Neither are the Piston Cup courses themselves for that matter, since they don’t feature the twisty curves of the circuit tracks. However, in a mechanic missing from the circuit events, you draft by following closely behind your opponents, and then use the R button to boost yourself past them.

The accompanying graphics are attractive, even if they don’t capture the charm of the film. Some effects, like the traffic cones you occasionally hit and send flying, are passable. The courses themselves all look much the same, though: gray pavement and brown dirt. The borrowed film tunes are fine but get monotonous since they don’t vary from race to race, and the sound effects are purely utilitarian.

And that’s all there is to Cars. The extra unlockable characters don’t make replaying races a worthy use of time, and the credits roll long before you expect them to, even for a GBA racer. It’s too bad, since it could have been a cute family-friendly title, but thirty bucks it’s a complete waste of money for an hour’s worth of gameplay.

 

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