A question that often arises around these parts is where do all the arcade racers go, and one answer, it turns out, is pretty obvious. You can find them under the arcade. Cruis ‘n Blast, which just launched this week, is part of an otherwise seemingly endangered species, an arcade port that squeezes 2017’s over-the-top racers onto the Switch, offering the kind of fancy, Ridiculously outrageous entertainment benefit from our racing games.
It may be a little surprising to find that real arcade games even exist in this day and age, but if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one yourself, you’ll find that they’re largely backed by a single company: Raw Thrills, Illinois A small company in Key City, operating under the watchful eye of a certain Eugene Jarvis. That would be Eugene Jarvis, creator of Defender and Robotron and other classics, because Eugene decided to make it his lifelong home as the video game world moved on from the smog of arcade machines.
I’m going to tell you all this before getting into the outrageous arcade action of Cruis’n Blast, whose tracks are chock-full of Fast & Furious blushing bits and slapped by pairs of 50 ft. snowmen ripped off each other because it seemed important to understand what the hell it was. It’s arcade racing that emerged from the Galapagos island of the arcade itself, the result of 30 years of isolated evolution, a game that’s gotten louder, crasser, and scarier. What a miracle!
Like the original Cruis ‘n USA, the Blast is a point-to-point racer with a simple focus on having fun. Go over a corner and you’ll scrape the end of the track gracefully; divert to an enemy and you’ll likely knock them out in satisfying, spark-filled slow-motion, burnout style. There’s no real punishment for a mistake in Cruis’n Blast – it just pushes you forward and throws at you as hard as you can in an attempt to cause a smile.
Gosh, it works. I’d love to tell you about these tracks, but I’m afraid I’ll be like an 8-year-old talking about their parents keeping them up late to watch last night’s action movie. But either way, here it goes – you go to London and go through the spokes of the London Eye before the top of one tube train collides with another, and its pods snap themselves as it zips through the city Free from the wheels and bounce along the track. Head to Los Angeles and an oversized doughnut will run out of a cafe, criss-crossing as you run from the city to the dock, inviting you to jump through its hole. Stomp through jungle tracks that usually give way to death jumps beneath you just to make your stomach spin a little faster.
It’s not subtle, it’s served in a style you might call pleasantly disgusting, with all the eye-catching neon and shiny metal swirling together until it feels like you’re playing a deep dream filter racer. That style extends to every part of Cruis’n Blast, a racing game where you can paint your car any color you like, as long as it’s a two-tone chrome package, its unlockable vehicles Including fire trucks, UFOs and unicorns.
It’s also a trivial thing by its very nature – the 5 tracks of the arcade original, backed by their variants, make up a series of 6 four circuits that gradually unlock as you earn a medal each time. Each car also has its own upgrade system, unlocking upgraded and expansive body kits, while new cars are unlocked by collecting keys around each level. It’s a reassuringly old-fashioned thing.
While bustling always trumps elegance in Cruis ‘n Blast, it’s beauty at its core – the delightful springiness of the drift mechanics, allowing you to cash in a little extra boost, a sense of speed and even a sense of speed on long lazy slides. Electric’s more pedestrian moments and collisions in an event, of which there are many, are proper meat.
You might argue that the asking price should offer more and that the lack of online multiplayer feels a bit odd (although split screen and local multiplayer are available if you want to set up something a little more intimate), but I never It feels particularly short-lived. Cruis’n Blast delivers 90 seconds of killing and joy, delivering the infectious energy that underpins Jarvis’ work. It’s an arcade racer that could only be born in the arcade itself, and on the Switch, it’s one of the most entertaining forms to date.