Digimon Racing (Game Boy Advance) Review

By James Temperton 03.05.2004

Digimon is often referred to here at Cubed3 as the poor man’s Pokémon, and understandably so. Both franchises are worryingly similar to each other, but despite this have managed to grab the imaginations of millions in building up massive respective fan bases. Whereas Pokémon made its fame in videogames and card games, Digimon did everything a bit different, but finally the gaming side of things is starting to get a bit better. Digimon Racing represents part of this evolution as it endeavours to deliver a solid and enjoyable racing title, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint…

Personally we have always found the whole Digimon thing slightly disturbing. Pokémon we can cope with, but the way in which Digimon have these very macho, steroid-enhanced voices that really puts us off. There is something ever so slightly niche-camp about it, which is certainly not what you would expect to find in a racing game full of weapon-wielding monsters.

All of your favourite Digimon characters from the show are here (or so we are told) and they all have their disturbing voices and characteristics. The basic idea of the game is to race, win, unlock tracks, beat bosses, unlock Digimon and repeat. Much like every other racer out there it tries to be different here and innovative there, and despite some slight problems Digimon Racing comes out at the other end looking a very respectable title. Comparisons with a certain plumber based racing title on the GBA are hard to ignore. On face value (and when you start to play it), this title is basically a carbon copy of Nintendo’s infamous handheld racer, but if you spend some time with it there are many things that make this title both enjoyable and addictive.

Screenshot for Digimon Racing on Game Boy Advance

It all starts off in a very well presented manner, with some lovely menu animations and effects, and a decent sound track that tries to make the most from the GBA's abilities. There are four basic game modes: cup race, quick race, time trial and a multiplayer link up option. Your main time will be spent playing through the cup race mode, where you have to battle your way through 9 cup races a three boss battles. Each tournament has a selection of varying tracks to test you skills against, ranging from the sublime to the pure evil and nasty.

Whilst some tracks have all the perfect design and majesty of some of the best ever on a handheld, others are so badly thought out and confusing that you just feel as though you are being unfairly treated. There is one track that is so confusing and poorly thought through that you will constantly find yourself pelting straight into walls that should logically be a continuation of the track. Of course you have the usual little arrows to let you know what sort of a corner is coming up, but when some only appear when you are just about to go into the bend it renders the use of this often essential addition slightly useless.

Screenshot for Digimon Racing on Game Boy Advance

Even though some of the tracks may be bad others are simply excellent. With speed boosts, tricky corners, loads of chances to pick up weapons and plenty of fair challenge, these are the sort of tracks that you will come back to again and again to better your time. Now when we say weapons we are being a bit kind to Digimon Racing. The poor excuse for weapons on display is about as pathetic as a Channel 5 TV schedule, featuring such highlights as the Blue Bubble, Red Bubble, Bomb, Speed Boost, Ray Blast and Shield. Just about as boring as weapons in a racing game can get, and even the character specific specials are a bit of an anti-climax.

If you are a fan of Digimon (we know it's hard to admit to it, but try) then you will know that all Digimon can *ahem* Digivolve. The more you evolve the bigger, better and ultimately more camp you become. In the race you are able to do this by zipping over some special 'power-up' areas of the track, that look a bit like a static TV screen. The benefits? Well you will never get too far in this game unless you keep yourself at the highest form of evolution for your character.

Screenshot for Digimon Racing on Game Boy Advance

The controls of Digimon Racing let the title down ever so slightly. Whilst for the most part they server their purpose perfectly well, if you come across one of the more challenging tracks you can often just go sliding out of play at even the mere site of a corner. That aside the gameplay is generally quite good and enjoyable, although you will often feel a bit annoyed when the computer so obviously cheats. As is the curse with so many-a-racing games in the world today, even when you have managed to not make one mistake in the race you still fall foul to a mass of weapon attacks, opponents suddenly getting a lot faster than you and going past you and even getting stopped right on the line and passed by about six fellow racers. Whilst the latter is perhaps a slight exaggeration, things like this in a racing game ruin the enjoyment it offers.

Screenshot for Digimon Racing on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

A very solid and at times hugely enjoyable title, that is let down by problems that are becoming all too common in this genre. It looks better than most, sounds worst than most and is at times massively unfair. At the end of the day there is nothing original about Digimon Racing, and it certainly owes a lot to a certain plumber-based racer. Entertaining, but ultimately flawed; perhaps one to rent?

Developer

Bandai

Publisher

Atari

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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