It's the only game where you can go from New York to San Francisco in under 10 minutes!
Ah, the open road. What better way is there to travel cross country than to hop into the cab of an 18-wheel rig loaded with cargo, plow your way through cars and roadblocks, sideswipe a rival rig, plunge off of a 20 story cliff, then find a parking spot at your destination? Well, you can do all that and more with Acclaim’s port of Sega’s arcade game, but much like the arcades, you can get full enjoyment from the game if you can manage to find one there.
Upon starting, your main gameplay options consist of Arcade, Parking, Score Attack, and Versus. The Arcade mode is the true-to-form port from the arcade, where you pick a rig based on its speed, torque, and toughness ratings, then race cross-country from New York to San Francisco as fast as possible. Scoring is based on how quickly you can carry your cargo to the goal line, and how much damage it’s taken en route. You’ll also be racing against a rival truck, and if you manage to beat it, you’ll score even more bonus money. After the first stage, you can choose what kind of cargo you want to carry: Long and heavy for more reward money, or shorter and lighter for less money. As you’ll soon discover, the bigger loads always yield the higher scores, so after you become accustomed to the game, you’ll always pick the more massive ones.
However, the major problem with the arcade mode is its length, or to be more precise, its lack thereof. It’ll literally take you 10 minutes to beat the game with a decent score. On top of that, the levels are setup so that you’ll barely make it to the end on time (many times you’ll coast across the finish line), but then again, most arcade games work like this, so it’s expected. Still, the aggravation you’ll get from just coming up short many times doesn’t seem to be justified by actually completing the level and moving on, as there are only four levels.
Score Attack and Versus work in similar ways. The goal in both is to finish a level with as much money as possible, except that the Versus mode takes place on different closed-circuit tracks (with two players), as Score Attack uses the main game’s point-to-point levels. Parking mode, if you can believe it, is actually the game’s most time-consuming mode, as you need to navigate your truck around various parking areas as quickly as possible, all without hitting anything. The mode’s first levels are easy, but as you move into the later levels, things get pretty challenging. Even if it is a fine balance between frustration and challenge, you’ll still grow tired of it after a few days. Not good for an asking price of $50.
Control is never a reason for frustration, though. The Analog R and L are gas and brake, while A and B are your gearbox (High/Low gears and Reverse). That’s all you need to play this game, although the horn does help to move cars out of your way on the road if you use it properly. The game does a fine job of mimicking the actual control a real rig needs to deal with, and as you’ll discover in the parking modes, there’s a reason why these types of trucks need to take wide right turns.
Everything else in the game is rather iffy. The game’s graphics look pretty nice for an arcade game, with good truck detail and above-average landscaping, but everything else is plain. Other cars and buildings look like N64 things rather than GameCube objects (then again, there are quite a few of them out there). The sound effects are spot-on, but your boss and rival blaring the same things over the radio to you every time you play is just not good. Music isn’t worth listening to, either.
Here we have another port where there’s simply not enough to do, even for a rental, let alone a purchase. The game does have its moments, and it always slightly more fun with another body, but there’s no reason for anyone to own this one unless there’s someone out there who needs to own every single GameCube game. You should try to play it, but don’t rent it unless you’ve got a rent one-get one free coupon around, because you’re better off plunking about $3 worth of quarters into the actual arcade unit rather than having had to pay for this disc to waste space in your GameCube for 5 days.