The holiday season is finally upon us, which is excellent news for gamers. A number of high quality games with beautiful graphics, innovative gameplay, and lightning fast online play are hitting stores, all of which are just sitting on shelves, shrink wrapped and begging to be played. These brand new and remarkable titles, however, come at a hefty place, and for each of these pricey, but almost guaranteed to be fun games comes another slightly dicey looking title tossed into bargain bins. For gamers on a budget and non-gamers doing their holiday shopping, these inexpensive games are tempting propositions, but border on unplayable more often than not. Honda ATV Fever, however, is a somewhat pleasant surprise among the trash littering these permanent sale racks. It may be an average game at best, but you won’t hate yourself for playing it and people won’t hate you for giving it to them as a gift.
One of the most interesting things about Honda ATV Fever is that the gameplay is absolutely average. It’s a no-frills racing game with no aggression, no stunts, and absolutely nothing to do but drive around the track faster than the AI does. It doesn’t do this too badly, but it’s hard not to want something more from the game. The control is also perfectly adequate without ever getting beyond that level. Though the ATVs seem to move quickly enough, you don’t get a real sense of speed while playing, and even if the vehicles seem to handle a little on the bouncy side, this never interferes with your ability to play the game. Nothing in it is exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, and all of the details that are either okay or not that great perfectly balance each other.
The graphics in Honda ATV Fever are also absolutely unremarkable. There’s not a spot of fog anywhere on any of the tracks, and all of the races are free of pop up and fade in. It’s also easy to tell that when you switch to a different ATV, you’re actually driving a different vehicle rather than hopping on a pallet swap. All of the riders, however, are pallet swaps, and the landscapes aren’t much better. Though there are a few different backgrounds, including a forest area, a forest with windmills, and a snowy forest, they all sort of look alike and are reused several times over the course of the game. Also, although the ATVs are relatively distinctive, they lack detail, making this look like the game could be about any brand of ATVs rather than Honda ones in particular.
Where the game does fall below average, at least in my opinion, is the sound department. The constant and high pitched buzz of the engines, though it sounds enough like real ATVs to be passable, got annoying very quickly. Since I’m not an ATV enthusiast, I would be more than willing to forgive the game that irritation were it not for the music. Every song in the game is a tuneless and noisy faux metal atrocity, serving as a screeching, drum machine fueled backdrop to the already unpleasant roar of the engines. The genre chosen does fit the game fairly well, but just because metal is appropriate to zipping ATVs around a dirt track doesn’t mean that extremely bad examples of the genre will make the game better.
In terms of value, Honda ATV Fever wouldn’t be an incredibly well advised purchase. For twenty dollars, the 50+ events advertised on the box don’t make it sound like such a bad deal, but after playing the entire game, I’m not sure where they got that number. There are 14 tracks, three modes, and several championships, but they all seem the same, save for the way the game keeps track of your victories. Nothing gets any more difficult as you go, the new ATVs you unlock don’t seem to drive any differently, and the 14 tracks get awfully boring as often as you have to drive on them. I saw everything this game had to offer in less than an hour, and during that hour, I was also half watching sitcoms and trying to decide where to eat dinner the next night. The awards that the game offers could be construed as a way to add longevity to the game, but even those are very easy to win, since I got most of them without any active pursuit.
Even though Honda ATV Fever is a short and unremarkably presented game that’s completely bereft of originality, I can’t say that I really disliked it. Playing the game kept my attention fairly well, and it was interesting to try and win as many of the races as I could. Now that I’m done with it, however, I really don’t have any desire to pick it back up and relive the experience. Honda ATV Fever is perhaps the most average thing I have ever played, and as such, I can’t recommend it or say that it would be awful to have to play it. It’s an okay game for DS owners that really love ATVs, and if you want to rent it, it isn’t at all a bad way to waste a couple of hours.