If I were a car maker that had the brilliant idea to slap the name of my car onto a racing game for the Nintendo DS, I think that the first thing I?d make sure was that this game was a high quality product. This would make sure that people would develop positive feelings about the car used in the game, remembering all of the fun they?d had virtually driving it when they saw one at a dealership. The game would then serve as the ultimate product in that it would be an advertisement for the car that people were actually paying for. When Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride was developed for the Nintendo DS, however, it seems that no one involved was thinking of any of these things, though it was, interestingly enough, successful in making me feel depressed and bored when I thought of Chevrolet Camaros.
The most noticeable problem with Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride is that the gameplay is really bad. It?s a fairly standard racing game, but does not emulate racing in a very successful fashion. Though the screen says that the cars are moving upwards of 160 MPH, it feels like they are moving a little less quickly than the hovercraft in Diddy Kong Racing, and rather than crashing, the game is so troubled by collision detection issues that the cars usually just drive through or on top of each other. Since there?s no speed and no crashes, the game gets boring quickly, particularly in the normal races, which regularly last upwards of five minutes.
There are steps taken to add variety to the gameplay, but none of them really work very well. Unlocking new cars does improve your speed and handling, but the difference between the best and worst car is sort of like the difference between walking through a pool full of Jell-O and a pool full of slightly less dense split pea soup. In order to make the Camaro Mode, which is sort of like the game?s career mode, more interesting, there are also a few extra styles of gameplay included. These involve knocking over cones, driving through checkpoints, and getting up to your car?s max speed. None of these things are that fun, either, though having them present and mandatory does distract from the mind-numbingly boring races.
Sometimes, in licensed games, the graphics and sound are good enough to justify the game?s existence in the face of abysmal gameplay. Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride does not even have this going for it. One might think that if a game is entirely based on the awesomeness of a certain type of car, the artists would try their best to make the cars look good in the game. If the visuals in this game are any indication, however, Camaro?s are blocky, inexplicably shiny, and plagued with a lack of detail, with back windows that permanently reflect bright blue skies even on cloudy days. These cloudy days, of course, are a constant presence in the game, since every course is lined with fog that conveniently hides the severity of the fade in as you drive around nondescript locales. The large font used is also a problem, as, in the traffic cone segments of the game, it actually covers parts of the screen necessary to play the game.
The sound isn?t quite as bad as the graphics, but it is a lot more inexplicable. All of the music is bouncy and cheerful synthesizer fare that sounds like it was ripped out of a quirky scene in a Playstation 1 Final Fantasy game. It isn?t really awful, but it?s wildly inappropriate for a racing game, especially one that bills itself as any sort of wild ride. Most of the time, however, the bizarre music is drowned out by the drone of the car engines, which despite not being the worst virtual car engines I?ve ever heard, bear very little resemblance to the sounds of a real car.
Since Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride is a budget priced title, some gamers might be willing to overlook the bad gameplay, terrible graphics, and weird music in order to take advantage of its value, but it doesn?t even do well in that regard. There?s only about two hours worth of content in this game, though an attempt to pad it out is made in the form of an exponential ratcheting of the difficulty in the later parts of Camaro Mode. Instead of successfully making the game enjoyable for a longer period of time, however, this cuts the amount of enjoyment that could be had with the final levels by imposing unreasonably difficult goals and AI that I?m pretty sure was constantly cheating. This lack of longevity is the final straw which renders Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride a nearly worthless game, one which should be avoided by even the most rabid Camaro enthusiasts.