reviews\ Sep 25, 2002 at 8:00 pm

ATV Quad Power Racing - GBA - Review

Ever been riding on an ATV? It’s a blast. Hopping over hills, sharp cornering, flying through mud … it’s all part of the overall enjoyment. Akklaim has now attempted to capture the excitement and feel of ATV racing with it’s newest release into the GBA library, ATV : Quad Power Racing. This actually started off on the PSX, and now it has moved onto everyone’s favorite little hand held system.


The controls to ATV are simple. Use the A button for gas and B button for brake, while the control pad steers left and right. The first somewhat curious thing I found on this is the mention of “stunts” in the instruction manual, but there’s no stunt button used on the GBA. Lo and behold, there were no stunts in the game either other than leaping off hills even after I tried pressing shoulder buttons and the control pad up or down. Anyway … let’s move on.


There are two main play modes in ATV that you can select from. Challenge mode is the main point of the game, where you race opponents and unlock more ATV’s (9 total) and tracks (10 of those) to race on in the second mode, Arcade. The Challenge consists of three actual heats to run in, Stock (Easy), Pro (Medium) and Open (Hard). Each heat consists of 8 tracks to complete total, except the Open which contains a ninth. Along the way, power ups can be obtained such as speed boost or better grip to help you overtake your opponents and win. Each heat adds more laps, and has faster ATV’s to run with. This all sounds like the beginning of a good, solid title … but unfortunately there are a couple of reasons why that’s not the case here.


First off, ATV racing is still an off – road thing overall, even though it’s not through trees and through the mountains like commercials on TV. This doesn't feel like much more than street racing in an outdoor environment for the most part. You have the dirt flying from the tires and jumps to leap off here and there, but mostly the environment seems a little flat and uninspired  overall. There’s no obstacles anywhere unless you stray off the dirt roadway too far to cause a problem, so you just sort of cruise along stage by stage without much environmental challenge. Stray into the grass or off to the side of the road a little, and suddenly your “off road” vehicle slows to a standstill. Even creeping along at the almost stopped pace will cause your bike to flip if it touches anything else though, which can be annoying.


Secondly, there’s no one else there most of the time which makes you feel like it’s more of a free ride than a race. You are riding along on your own from the start, and suddenly another rider appears in the distance in front of you. Passing your opponent makes them apparently drop out of the race altogether after a number of seconds, since there were times where I would wreck about 8 seconds after passing someone and they never showed up to present another challenge to me. 


The last two things are the biggest issues that caused me to shake my head about ATV Quad Power Racing overall. The first was the overall challenge. Even with the faster ATV’s and the Open Challenge mode, I was still able to breeze through each track the first time without any problems. Midway through the Open challenge it got a little more difficult, but by that time I knew my way around since it was the same areas I’d seen before for the most part. The second one which ties into that is the length. I’m good at racing titles, and it took me about 2 hours including my own personal “pit stops” to go through the whole thing. Even if racing isn’t your main forte, you won’t have much of a problem getting through it in an afternoon as long as you stay on the road.


The graphics for ATV : Quad Power Racing look sharp. The 3-D textures, movement, and draw distance are more in the quality of a Playstation title. The tires throw mud, and the trees, rocks, and logs look really good. The racers themselves don’t look too bad either, but get a little pixeled unless they are close up.


Overall, I am sad to say that this game wasn’t more of what it definitely could have been. Even with the great graphics and all the fun of ATV racing, the overall gameplay and length cause it to run out of gas at the finish line. If you’re a fan of ATV racing or riding, you might get more enjoyment out of this title than others, but I would still recommend to buy with caution.


Gameplay: 6.0
The overall control of the ATV’s are simple to learn and get into, but the track design, game length, and lack of overall challenge hurt this title in the end. Things like flipping the ATV while almost standing still and getting bounced like a rubber ball off the track when you run into an opponent don’t help much either, nor does the uninspired track design. The last two in the challenge series were more fun than others, though.  


Graphics: 8.2
The graphics are really good for the most part, even for a GBA title, but opponents look somewhat pixeled if not close by. Environments look really good and contain mud, snow, dirt, and grass.


Sound: 7.5
The engine and the sounds of tires slipping on dirt sound decent, and powerups are accompanied by a voice yelling “You’re on fire!” or “Yeah!”. The music is a little generic sounding, but not too terribly bad since it only plays at the title screen and in between tracks.


Difficulty: Easy
Easy to pick up and get into, but too easy to beat as well. There is no adjustable difficulty here either to make it more challenging.  


Concept: 7.0
Racing titles have been done in numerous shapes and sizes. This one goes off the street and into the dirt, which is a neat switch from “the norm”. ATV racing has been done before in the past however, and this one doesn't do much more to make it different.


Overall: 6.2
This seems to be one of those “could have been” titles for the most part, but the overall issues far outweighed the good points. Racing or ATV fans will have more things to like about this game than others, but I would still see if you could check out a preowned open copy in the store before you make the final decision to buy it or not.  

Above Average

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