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Just not enough

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Chrysler Classic Racing details the adventures of one boy as he tries to make his way to the top of the 1950’s social ladder, a street racing champ.  While this does happen in an overall dated world that is rather poorly detailed and uninspired, it does have a nice layer of charm stacked on top of it.  This isn’t to say that the charm gets it through some of the more heinous downfalls, but it does a pretty good job of making the game playable.

The most impressive thing about Chrysler is that all of the graphics have a layer of nostalgia plastered over their outward awkwardness.  This ties the entire world together in a coherent chunk that is easily accepted.  While it seems odd that all of the roads are giant circles that go nowhere and there are no cops to be seen even though large groups of teens are dangerously racing through the town’s only road, it seems like that might just be the found memory of boring times past.

That isn’t to say that the graphics are great, just that it is clear that enough effort when into making them all watchable without the need to burn out your own eyes.  Although some of the choices do seem odd, like how the avatar can be customized in a series of “cooler” clothing that is never displayed, the entire game does manage to hold the entire design together surprising well.

The car controls are almost entirely based off the nunchuck, which has the distinct advantage of making the game playable.  The problem is that the car seems to either be overly responsive at all times, taking 90 degree corners at full speed and turning on a dime. Other times, when driving off some dirt parts of the road and back onto pavement, the car randomly decides to steer sharply left.  It seems odd, also, that a car in the game handles entirely better before it is upgraded than how it drives after.

Sadly, this is also not the end of the problems with the gameplay either. The game’s pacing is a problem with sudden difficulty jumps.  At certain points, new cars tend to cost way more than is reasonable to earn at that point, meaning that the only real answer is to grind for more money.  Sadly, the game’s difficulty makes grinding more than a chore.

Difficulty jumps aside, the game does have an interesting mini-game type mechanic that happens every time after a race is won (the game will not progress if a race is not finished in first place).  Normally these take the form of another race, but only against one other car, but sometimes they mix things up a bit.  The first case of this was to win a girl over.  It was required to collect a set number of stuffed bears at a carnival.  The camera for the game pulls back and turns into more of a top down collection game, which is strangely better than the racing part of the game.  These are different enough to mix things up, but sadly there aren’t enough of them throughout the course of the game.

 The music that is blasted throughout is distinct enough to be clearly placed in the 50’s, but vague and just different enough to avoid lawsuits from the Beach Boys.  This works to the games nostalgia effect, but isn’t really different enough in the grand scope of things to really warrant repeated listening.  The rest of the game’s sounds are passable, but entirely unimpressive compared to more in-depth and non-budget based racing games.

Probably one of the best things that Chrysler Racing has going for it is that it is a budget game, and as such there isn’t a bunch to lose.  The problem is that the people that might be interested in this type of dated look back to a time when cars where shaped like square boats and people walked around looking like Fonzy probably aren’t looking to pick up a game of this type at any price, regardless.

Chrysler Classic Racing manages to do several things right, from a well placed style bring out nostalgia to mixing the play style just enough to continue to be interesting.  The problem is that with a misguided sense of who would be interested in this type of game, and uneven controls the game ends up falling apart, before it can be recommended.  For anyone looking for a racing game on the Wii there are better games out there, but for the kids that get given this by a grandmother looking to recapture her youth could have done a whole lot worse.

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