Wha- wait! Where am I!?! Why is everything so polygonal? Oh dear it seems I’ve stepped away from the second generation of gaming consoles and made the leap to the fifth, bit rude though, such a massive generational shift without any warning. Yes, today we’re gonna review a game on the N64, and since I only have three I don’t have too many options, lemme see here… uh… Lego Racers? No, what about Mario Kart 64? No, that one’s been done to death, alright that just leaves one last game, so today let’s take a look at Extreme-G. Extreme-G was the first game in the Extreme-G series, it was later succeeded by Extreme-G XG2, also on the N64, Extreme-G 3 on the Gamecube, and finally Extreme-G Racing Association, also on Gamecube. As we all know many of these old three dimensional games tend to age poorly, so how does this one stack up? Let’s get on with it.
This game looks great, because it cheats. If one were to stop for a moment and look around they’d see a fairly low resolution and low poly affair, but again, this game cheats, because this is a racing game, and a fast one at that, you won’t have time to stop and sniff the flowers. The low poly trick works in the game’s favor, since less of the consoles memory is being used up with the graphics it can focus on the important things, like framerates. This game runs fairly smoothly considering how fast it’s moving at all times, the only time I had noticeable frame drops is when an one is trapped in ‘the pack’ and everybody is shooting away with their weapons. The main problem with most racing games are the tracks and how they tend to just look the same after a while, not with this game, every track has its own theme, one moment you’re racing through a junkyard, the next moment you’re whizzing through a volcano and not safe speeds. Some motifs are reused for the tracks but since each track is packed with different set pieces they never look the same.
I love this soundtrack! This old mid-90’s techno music is some of the best I’ve ever heard; in fact I liked it so much I went on Steam and bought Extreme-G 2 just so I could get the soundtrack for this game (add me on Steam if you want, same username.) A major complaint I have with most racing games are the obnoxious engine noises, but not so with this game, since you have the option to turn the engine volume down, but also the engine sounds aren’t at all annoying on their own.
This is a very fast racing game, what Sonic the Hedgehog did for platforming games Extreme-G did for racing games. The controls are rather strange, and are the biggest turn away for new players, since these are jet powered superbikes they’re very twitchy to control and must therefore be controlled in a very twitchy way, small movements are paramount for staying in a straight line. On the flipside though these bikes have a hard time turning so you must use the right shoulder button to powerslide which will make your bike turn much sharper, but you can’t hold down the button otherwise the bike moses slower and is even more twitchy. This game also has weapons much like a cart racer but I will not tell you what they do in this review since there are a lot of them and it’s more fun to experiment anyway, needless to say they add a lot of fun to the experience, your bike can also shoot opponents with a mounted machine gun, it shoots wherever you point and the damage it does depends on the bikes stats. There are seven initial bikes to choose from with an unlockable superbike as a reward for beating the game at a certain difficulty, each bike has its own unique stats, personally I choose Khan for the high acceleration (I hit walls a lot) and strong cannon. But what of the tracks? Well, they’re awesome! This is not a standard racer with flat tracks, this game has loops ‘n shit. Tracks are designed more like a rollercoaster than a racetrack, and the game is all the better for it since it injects even more variety into the game, and no track feels the same.
If it isn’t obvious already you should go and buy this game, loose copies are around 7-12 bucks, if not cheaper, on Ebay, also don’t buy the sequel, they screwed up the controls. This IS my favorite racing game of all time, nothing I’ve played so far can even compare to the raw speed and adrenaline pumping action this game can provide, and when coupled with the soundtrack, well, there’s nothing better.