Game: Bang Bang Racing
Developer: Playbox and Digital Reality.
Platform: Xbox 360
There is a hallmark of good racing games. It’s not something you find printed on the box. It’s not something you can even see within the first lap of a race. Most times, it creeps up on you as you’re playing until suddenly you’re screaming at your opponents, moving the controller violently to take a sharp turn, and then doing a dorky victory dance around the living room and looking like a dangerous, drunk chicken. For me, it’s happened in most of the Mario Kart games, the woefully underappreciated Split/Second, and the legendary Micro Machines V3 on the PSOne. Unfortunately, this hallmark moment didn’t happen when I played Bang Bang Racing.
Bang Bang Racing is a top-down racing game co-developed by Playbox and Digital Reality. The echoes of Micro Machines V3 can be heard strongly in the design of Bang Bang Racing. The cars are pint-sized versions of high performance racing vehicles and watching packs of miniature racers speed around has a certain charm to it. In Micro Machines V3, the racing tracks were threaded through real-life obstacles that you’d fine strewn about a living room or a breakfast table. This made the game lovely. In Bang Bang Racing, the tracks are…tracks. That’s about all that can be said of them. Oh wait! There are barrels placed on the track that will explode in either flames or oil if you run into them. I will freely admit that I never got good enough at racing to be able to strategically bump into the barrels so that they actually made a difference in my race.
There’s the usual panoply of cars, skins, and tracks to unlock as you progress through the game. There’s local 4 player split screen racing, but there’s also a rather conspicuous absence of online multiplayer. These bells and whistles do little to add to the core mechanic of the game – driving around in circles.
Bang Bang Racing doesn’t do anything offensive, but it also doesn’t do anything that makes it stand out. Split/Second made you feel like you were racing through every exciting movie driving scene, complete with explosions, falling buildings, and a giant aircraft carrier. Micro Machines V3 captured that child-like feeling of pushing your little toy cars around the room and making “Vroom-vroom!” noises. Mario Kart had…well, Mario. Bang Bang Racing? There are barrels.
I tried to get my wife to race against me. She routinely beats me at Mario Kart (pre-Wii version!) and we’re pretty competitive when it comes to games. She played one race, put down the controller and said, “No.” If you feel a hankering for racing around and screaming at your opponent and dancing like a drunken chicken then I have to highly recommend you pick up Split/Second. You can find it cheap these days and it’s sure to give you more thrills than Bang Bang Racing.