previews\ Jan 18, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Digimon Racing - GBA - Preview

At a time when the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! hoopla is just beginning to die down, you'd think that the next great kart racer would be released on the GameCube.  Much to my surprise, that is not the case.  This April Bandai will release a cute and cuddly racer that will make you think, "Licensed property, corporate decision," at first glance.  After playing the game you'll be saying, "Excellent racer, give me more!"


Although it's a small feature, I want to start by noting something really cool about this game: jumping.  The old, 2D Mario Kart games had a power-slide feature that lifted the racers slightly off the track.  This was okay, but nothing special.  The power-sliding in Double Dash!! was far superior.  In Digimon Racing, your power-slide is a full-fledged jump.  Not only can you jump over the many holes and gaps that appear in some of the levels, you can also use it to hop over and jump on enemies!  Jumping on them will stun them, allowing you to zoom past them and earn the first place win that you so desperately want.  Not only is this feature fun to use, but it was something I was just thinking about.  I asked my cousin, "Wouldn't it be cool if the next Mario Kart incorporated Mario's classic jumping?"  Little did I know that one developer was already doing that.


Being a game in the Digimon series, Digimon Racing has its share of cutesy-ness.  Included on the preview build were Agumon, Gabumon, Palmon, Patamon, Tentomon, Biyomon, Salamon, and Gomamon.  Three characters were locked at the start but could be selected after completing three trials.  The trials include winning all of the time trial races; winning all of the quick races; and winning all of the cup races.


That's an interesting way to get players to use all of the game modes.  Generally the quick race is nothing more than exhibition; choose an unlocked course and race it one time.  In Digimon Racing, however, you have a reason to beat each cup and then go back and beat each race individually via the quick race mode.  Then you have a reason to take it even further and complete each race with the best times in time trial mode.


I only had one copy, but this near-complete version of Digimon Racing indicated that the multiplayer feature was already intact.  Up to four players can race simultaneously, giving you and your friends a great kart racer to play besides Mario Kart.


The controls are a tad slippery at this point, but only with some of the characters, which could be the intention.  The slippery characters have other advantages, like an increased amount of speed.  Power-sliding (or jumping) isn't always easy but is not a nuisance as it in some games.  Overall I was really impressed with how the game played, and look forward to seeing how it all comes together in the final version.


I don't watch the show so I don't know if this game uses old or new music.  Either way, Digimon Racing sounds better than most monster-raising game spin-offs.  The music is fairly deep and very likable.  Very easy to listen to and not at all a distraction.  It's not annoying either, which is usually what accompanies the music of a game targeted at children.  This is a kid's game, but if you like kart racers your age will not prevent you from enjoying it.


Look for Digimon Racing to be entertaining kids everywhere this April.  And kids, take note: your older siblings will want to get their hands on this one, so unless you like sharing, guard this one with your life.

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