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High Voltage Hot Rod Show - WiiWare Review

Game Info
High Voltage Hot Rod Show

WiiWare | High Voltage Software | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer)
Out Now (North America) | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Remote (sideways); Classic Controller; GameCube Controller; Wii Wheel
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12th March 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Earlier in 2009, High Voltage Software tried their hand at developing a racing game from the ground-up for the WiiWare service. After the likes of Gyrostarr, many were completely uncertain as to how this second WiiWare title would turn out. Fast-forward many months later following the game's release, and the game turned out to be a competent entry in the short list of WiiWare racers. High Voltage Hot Rod Show may not have had a big following on the service, but even 'till this day, the game serves as an excellent racing experience.

    The game contains 4 gameplay modes to choose from. Championship, the main single-player option, sees players competing in cups against the CPU. In Time Trial mode, players try to aim for the best overall single lap as opposed to the best record over three laps - an interesting choice to say the least. Then there's the Multiplayer mode where you can face your friends on any of the tracks from the single-player mode. And of course, you have an Options mode where you can control such things as Rumble and sound effects. Even just by looking at the mode selection alone, players can discern that the game contains a pick-up-and-play appeal, not offering too much for players to choose from.

    The single-player affair isn't exactly ground-breaking but that's to be expected from a game like this. Players have three difficulties to choose from: Easy, Medium, and Hard. You unlock the latter two difficulties by earning a Gold trophy on the option right before it. The Easy difficulty setting makes the computers a pushover and Hard makes it so that the AI actually puts up more of a fight so it's not too easy to earn the final trophy. Once you earn Gold on Hard mode, though, you've pretty much seen all there is to see from the simplistic Championship mode. Needless to say, the game definitely lacks a sense of extended replay value for solo players.

The game at least attempts to offer players some sense of variety. You're given a choice of six different characters that you really won't care much for. Each character has their own vehicle with one or two skins to choose from; generally, the car designs look like a cross between a Monster Truck game and Micro Machines. In the end, though, all of the cars control exactly the same which is a bit of a letdown. You also have 6 courses to choose from, each with different terrain and environments to get the hang of. Track designs are of decent quality, with a good use of hairpins, corners, ditches and more but it's nothing remarkable.

    The developers definitely took a lot of work to ensure that the game looked more than just a last-minute project. The game's graphics are really impressive and the framerate remains consistent through it all. Amazingly, despite playing with 4 other people in multiplayer, the framerate still sticks almost all the way through! This is an excellent accomplishment in itself as it makes for a multiplayer experience that's not boggled down by technical issues, like some other racing games are. The audio work isn't going to make you enjoy the game more, but it doesn't detract from the gameplay either. However, be warned that the Main Menu theme can get annoying after the fourth time you listen to it!

High Voltage Software didn't want to apply too many limits to the control scheme so they allowed for different customizations depending on your preferred style of choice. Players can control their cars with the Wii Remote on its side, with the Wii Wheel peripheral, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, and even the Gamecube controller. It's nice that they took a hint from Mario Kart Wii's control options as it allows players to experience the game to their personal preference of play.

    The actual racing aspect of the game is really well-handled thanks to various elements that the developers incorporated to make the game more enjoyable. As the timer counts down at the beginning of a race, players can (in the case of the Wii Remote, NES-style) press the 2 Button repeatedly to build up an early boost that will nab them an early head start. Players steer using the tilt mechanisms of the Wii Remote, and can use the D-Pad to powerslide around tight corners. Before you start worrying about the response of the motion controls, you'll be pleased to find that they are very precise. So much so, in fact, that most won't need to use the powersliding technique very often, opting to tilt around corners instead.

Now normally, racing just like this could be fine in itself, but the most enjoyable aspect about High Voltage Hot Rod Show is the trick system. You may not be doing anything terribly innovative by drawing shapes in the air a la SSX Blur, but executing tricks one after the other is still rather fun! You simply shake the Wii Remote whilst airborne to perform a spin in the air, and this will increase your speed once you land. If you jump right before a ramp by pressing the A or 1 Button, you can get even more air. You can do up to 3 or 4 tricks but if you don't time it properly, you'll crash and lose precious time as well as any sort of speed boost you would've gained from landing successfully.

    In certain areas on each track, you'll find airborne, luminescent Green stars that can only be reached if you time your jumps. These circus-like "hoops" (if you will) are not just for show: successfully passing through these will build up your Boost meter, located in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Players can earn up to 5 boost enhancements that will allow them to travel faster, and hold a significantly longer speed boost after successfully landing and/or sequencing tricks. The entire system is very addictive, it's easy to understand and best of all, it's really fun. The tricks may be simple in execution but that doesn't take away from their overall enjoyment and the developers should be applauded for being able to make this work.

Obviously, multiplayer is really where your focus should be when planning on purchasing the game. Sure the game is fun on your own but once you master the trick system and grow accustomed to each of the tracks, you'll find yourself wanting more with AI that can't keep up with you at times. This is where playing with friends comes in. The game can be played with up to 4 different people via split-screen, offering players the same level of control customization available to the single player. This makes this mode even more accessible, particularly to those who may have additional Gamecube controllers but only a small number of Wii Remotes. 

    Multiplayer sessions will be very skill-oriented in nature, meaning that if you're just learning the in's and out's of the game, you can probably expect people to overlap you over the course of a race. There are no power-ups to speak of beyond the boost/trick system, making for a racing game that has no shred of luck involved whatsoever! This will appeal to many, particularly those who are sick and tired of that darned Blue Shell from Mario Kart! Still, the game also requires newcomers to remain vigilant in trying to get used to the territory that comes with playing the new tracks. Thankfully, if it were not for the easy-to-grasp control scheme, then the game would've been all too frustrating for first-time players. 

    Unfortunately, even with the great multiplayer, the game still feels a bit lacking in some respects. The game may lack depth, but the gameplay does make up for it with its compelling trick system. Still, you can't help but feel that the game could've used a bit more development time to improve on such aspects as variety. Online play would've been a huge plus for a game like this, especially given that the game relies entirely on skill. It's a common complaint about some WiiWare games and although I personally don't share that same sentiment with most games, you really feel it here. There really is not much to go back to that would make one even feel satisfied about the 1,000 points required to purchase this game.

The game does include a Time Trial mode which, admittedly, is fun for a while. The developers did also incorporate online leaderboards, allowing you to compare times with others worldwide. But after some time, most will lose interest and move onto another game to get their time attack fix. Those that do make use of them will find that they could've been incorporated better, by having them easily accessible on the Main Menu. Even if you want to just view your local records for bragging rights, you have to go into a stage and this is unnecessarily tedious. The lack of extended replay value is what hurts the game the most and it simply can't be overlooked.

    For 1,000 Points, High Voltage Hot Rod Show contains little to come back to beyond the multiplayer experience and it ultimately falls short of the steep price tag. Still, the gameplay is addicting and it delivers an experience that's as easy to comprehend as it is fun to play. If someone offers you a gift on the Wii Shop, definitely keep this game in mind but for those that are looking to spend their points on this, just keep in mind that the game is lacking when it comes to replay value.

24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Tricks may be waggle-based but they're fun to execute, gameplay is skill-oriented, easy to master
Presentation 8/10 - Impressive graphics with an equally impressive framerate, forgettable characters and music
Enjoyment 4/5 - Fun multiplayer provided you know what you're doing, not much content for solo players
Extra Content 3/5 - Lacks replay value beyond multiplayer, online leaderboards for Time Trials but most will lose interest

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

High Voltage Hot Rod Show
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Review by KnucklesSonic8  |  How we rate games

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