Oh, when will death come?
One of my friends asked me the other day why I review awful, horrible, cramp-inducing shovelware without pay. My knee-jerk answer was “free games in the mail,” but there’s a larger, nobler motivation at work here. In playing such dreck as Animates, Bee Movie Game, Rockstar Presents Table Tennis and most recently, Spitfire Heroes, there comes a responsibility to relay to the public just how terrible these games are. If just one kid reads my review and avoids playing Nitrobike, it’ll all be worth it. Also, I get lots of free store credit.
Homie Rollerz is one such example of a game with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The characters alone make me want to punch a squirrel. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, the “Homies” brand consists of a bunch of vending machine figurines which portray campy stereotypes of Mexican and Latino people. Basically, they’re all wearing bling and have sagging jeans. And the women are whores.
At any rate, Homie Rollerz drops these timeless characters into various vehicles (one guy is in a wheelchair) and forces them to race through awful, seizure-inducing racetracks. It’s not just that the racetracks are poorly designed; the fact that the camera is centered on the back of your car means that the slightest turn left or right rotates the entire landscape. With all the unnecessary twists and turns that the courses offer, you’ll get a headache pretty quickly.
The graphics range from terrible to Lovecraftian. The environments are so blocky, and the framerate and draw distance so inconsistent, you’ll swear you were playing a beta, or even an alpha (is there something earlier than alpha?). The sound is also terrible. You know how sometimes you’ll pull up to a truck at a red light, and they’ve got their bass beating away with only a faint suggestion of overlying music? That’s what you’ll find here. There’s no voicework or really even sound effects…only horrible, horrible music to go with terrible graphics and offensive characters. It’s the complete package of suck, really.
At least the controls are good, right? Well, no. Aside from the camera problems mentioned above, D-Pad movement is jerky and disorienting. You can use items, but they don’t seem to have much of an effect on your opponents. My favorite (read: least favorite) item is the one that switches you with the kart ahead of you. I imagine Nintendo would have handled this item wonderfully in Mario Kart, but in Homie Rollerz, it leads to crashing into things! You can do tricks involving hopping, leaning, and…hopping off of ramps. These altogether menial tricks award you NOS (nitro), which you can use to boost ahead. But you don’t really, because there’s no feeling of speed, and it’s not like you can ever pass anybody.
That’s another disappointing aspect of Homie Rollerz: its difficulty. It takes a significant amount of re-tries to make it out of last place during any given race. And even then, some courses seemingly cannot be won. For example, the haunted house course is rife with twists, turns, blind corners, and ill-placed ramps, yet your ‘bot opponents never have any trouble with the course design. They always go for the open lane, and know how to avoid trouble sections. But you? You’re only human. When controlled by human hands, your kart can only turn so sharply, and the draw distance only shows so much.
But wait! Perhaps things are only this difficult when you’re racing with a beginner’s kart. After all, you can…pimp your ride (my English degree just caught fire) by earning Respect, and spending that Respect on new gear for your vehicle such as better tires and engines. Sadly, these customizations have little positive effect on the performance of your kart. In some cases, improvements in one area actually decrease performance in another. The best (and most expensive) parts require an ungodly amount of Respect which would require you to continue playing Homie Rollerz past the five-minute mark, which is not a premise I can encourage.
Homie Rollerz offers up to eight-player single-card download play, but if you don’t have seven friends (like me), ‘bots fill in the blanks. These ‘bots will always win the race – a race that takes several minutes to load on multiple systems. There’s also multi-card play, but having such a feature implies that more than one person will accidentally get Homie Rollerz for their birthday, which, I pray to God in Heaven above, will not happen.