Driving in circles. How has it become so popular? How did NASCAR, a pseudo-sport consisting of nothing more than steering a car left or right hundreds of times, end up capturing the hearts and mental stutters of hillbillies everywhere? I simply can’t see the appeal of it as a genuine sport. Sure, I enjoy myself a few rounds of Mario Kart. I have fun racing go-karts at the grossly overpriced local miniature golf course. But I never held up racing at the level of baseball, hockey or football. I’m sure that a large part of that is the reason I didn’t really like this game, but I don’t think many racing fans would enjoy Indianapolis 500 Legends, either.
The Indy 500, for those who don’t know, is the long-drive racing that preceded NASCAR. For further clarification, see the car piece in standard Monopoly board games. That’s an Indy racer. Racing those jalopies is the focus of Indianapolis 500 Legends, and it is just plain-and-simple boring. The game is just what you’d expect from Indy racing. It is funny-looking cars driving in a circle for a really long time. That’s it.
There are two modes, Classic Mode, which is a straight-forward two hundred lap race, where you go in a circle again and again and again and keep doing it until you either trade the game in to Gamestop, break it out of boredom or prove that you have saintly patience by actually completing a three-hour race. There is also a mildly unique Mission Mode, where you perform various race-related tasks like completing a leg of a race without damaging your vehicle or just pulling out a win. But no matter the race, and no matter the task, there is only one track (an oval) and no matter what; it’s boring.
The game handles like pretty much every other racing game. A is gas. B is brake. Control pad or a steering wheel on the touch screen steers. The game focuses heavily on the “slingshot” where a driver lines up directly behind the car in front of it, to lower air resistance, then after a small meter charges, pressing the R (or X) button gives a mild speed boost. There is also the pit stop element of racing, which comes into play as a few mini-games that involve going in a circle on the touch screen and moving things around (and that’s it). The game ultimately plays like a cart racer…a really bad cart racer. There is also a silly damage system, where if you smack into a wall, a wheel will be spinning off, causing the vehicle to veer to one side. But unlike better cart racers (like Mario Kart DS), this one doesn’t offer single-cartridge multiplayer! So all of your friends have to by this loathsome game in order to play it…Lord only knows why they would, though.
Graphically, the game is pretty mediocre, leaning towards bad. The cars don’t have a particularly great deal of detail or quality, and since there’s only one track, there aren’t really particularly impressive locales to check out. Music follows suit, but ends up even worse, with absolutely terrible midis trying to pose as music. The game is best played with the volume off.
I don’t know how to put this nicely…but Indianapolis 500 Legends is just a terrible game. Really, there’s just not much that it does right, and not even racing fans would find this especially fun. The gameplay is weighed down by crappy source material and a slope so slippery, you can tap the brakes once on lap one and never get a chance to catch up. Maybe if they took the game and tried to make it some sort of fun cart racer instead of an actual Indy 500-style racing game, it could’ve stood a slim chance at being a mediocre game. But it isn’t. It’s a game where you drive a crappy-looking car on the same track hundreds of times.