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Monster Racers - NDS - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

No matter what the future of our industry holds, it seems that 16-bit gaming will never fully die off. That’s great news for anyone who loved the Genesis or SNES. That’s even better for developers who still wish to explore the two-dimensional, graphically-simplistic side of gaming.

Monster Racers, a DS-exclusive racing game from KOEI, will instantly make you think of Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog. Though that may sound like a strange combination (especially when you consider that Pokemon never appeared on a 16-bit console), this is a game that uses miniature, semi-deformed monsters in a very Sonic-esque world. The “Racers” part of the title might have led you to believe this would be a Mario Kart clone, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, Monster Racers is a side-scrolling action game.

How is it a racer, then? Because the game never stops moving forward and you’re constantly fighting for first place. Monsters can jump pretty seamlessly, and the environments are overflowing with varying terrain and simple backgrounds that could’ve easily landed on the SNES (hence the instant Sonic comparisons). But this isn’t at all a Sonic clone – in fact, that may not even have been what the developers were shooting for. Intentional or not, the game is reminiscent of our favorite blue hedgehog, a fact that will pay off when kids get their hands on the game.

Monster Racers is primarily an action/racing game, but there is also a full-fledged story mode that delves into RPG territory. You’ll talk to NPCs (non-playable characters), collect and raise various monsters, and eventually take them to the racecourse for some real fun.

Multiplayer is going to be a big part of the experience as well. Best of all, you won’t have to make your friends buy the game just to enjoy it – single-card play is supported for three players (the fourth player must have the game, obviously). Game owners can also upload their best race times via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.

As the title suggests, each character comes in the monster-meets-animal variety. None of them are scary or violent since this game was developed for the family-friendly crowd. Their designs, which include characters that resemble apes, birds, dragons, rhinos and sea creatures, are youth-oriented without being too cutesy.

But just because it’s a family-friendly game doesn’t mean adults won’t be amused. Anyone who enjoys a fast-paced side-scroller is likely to be entertained. So this fall, when the hunt begins for retro gaming bliss, make sure that Monster Racer is on your list of games to check out.

 

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