Spirit of Speed 1937 Reviews

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“Its always nice to see a game developer try something...”


written by TOMLEECEE on 05/06/2006

Its always nice to see a game developer try something new - to break the mould and investigate other avenues of gaming. Generally the types of game I'm talking about tend to be exceptional examples of creativity - Rez, NiGHTS and Vib Ribbon are great showcases for this ethos. As such, any game that dares to be slightly different gets an instant thumbs up from me. On the other hand, sometimes no amount of originality can save a game that is just plan awful - no matter how good the intentions were. Ladies and Gents, allow me to introduce Spirit of Speed 1937.

Now, it's safe to say that the Dreamcast, if nothing else, has more that it's fair share of racing games. There's the sublime MSR, Vanishing Point and Daytona; then there's Wacky Races, Rush 2049, V Rally 2 and Sega GT...the list goes on and on and the quality is undeniable. But then there's complete and utter tripe like Spirit of Speed 1937.

Where to begin though? The loading times would be as good a place as any, I suppose. In this age of disc-based consoles, loading screens have become an integral part of any gamer's life and as such I have no problem with the odd 10 second wait here and there as a game does it's thing. Nevertheless, when a game introduces itself with a two minute long loading screen - just to cater for the main menu - you know something's up. When said main menu is as rudimentary and downright threadbare as Spirit of Speed's, you have to wonder what the CPU was doing with all that time.

The whole originality thing I was talking about earlier comes, generally, from the way the game is based around the thrilling world of classic motor racing, and to be more precise, the world of motor racing in 1937.

Therefore the whole style of the menus and music, the tracks and (obviously) the cars are suitably vintage.

The thing is that once you've trawled through the eye-watering menus, actually chosen you car and track and then endured another ridiculous loading screen, you are punished even further by having to play one of the most painful racers ever to see the light of day.

And, by painful I actually mean it - the game engine is so juddery it made my head hurt just from doing one lap of Donnington. I still commend the release of such an unorthodox racing title on a console that is otherwise pretty much solely dedicated to arcade games, but Spirit of Speed just plays like a dog. The cars all handle the same in that they simply do not steer and all go at the same speed - slow. Fair enough, they're 1930s vehicles, but surely that doesn't mean that every tap of the analogue stick should make them careen uncontrollably with the same 'skid' sound effect every single time...even on grass?!

There are so many things wrong with Spirit of Speed I can't even touch the surface without sending you into a boredom induced coma, but just rest assured that this game is bad. Choppy frame rate, no vehicle handling whatsoever, unfair AI (who you'll see once in a race - on the starting grid) and heinous loading times. Fortunately, you have the choice to the one thing it's impossible to do in Spirit of Speed 1937: steer well clear!

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