Review: Lowrider (PS2)

Platform: PlayStation 2
Category: It’s beyond definition
Developer: PCCW Japan
Publisher: Jaleco Entertainment
The Down-Lo: Shoot me. Please. Just shoot me and get it over with.

There comes a time in a gamer’s life when they stumble across something so appallingly dreadful. Something so atrociously malignant. A videogame so ridiculously horrible it causes teenagers to hide in bomb shelters panicking to lose their virginity. A videogame so horrendous that you play elongated sessions of Bubsy 3D to take the edge off. Something so flat out bad not even Chris Pankonin will touch it.

Such a thing is Lowrider. The most pathetic attempt at a videogame I’ve ever seen in my life. I kid not people, this huge turd of a game Jaleco has allowed their name to be attached to is among the worst videogames of all time. Up there with E.T. for the 2600, Superman on the N64, and Final Fantasy VIII Bible Adventures for the NES. When something is THIS bad… well all you can do is laugh. That’s just exactly what my initial reaction was to do. Laugh. And laugh and laugh and laaaaugh.

But then the righteous indignation flared up. I started wondering where is this industry going? How can stuff like this be tolerated? What baffles me is how something this ridiculously bad was actually allowed by Sony for license on the PS2, whereas SNK’s games were REJECTED by SCEA. Amazing, quality assured, classic games turned away because Sony doesn’t like 2D. Rumor has it they’re even doing the same with some of Capcom’s titles. No King Of Fighters. No Metal Slug. No Viewtiful Joe. But Lowrider? Sure!! The PS2 can’t get enough of those crappy games as long they got boobies and that new fangled 3D!

Ugh. Why does anybody like Sony? Really.

Nope. I’m not going to get started. No soapbox today. For the love of god, let’s just hurry up and get this over with. Lunar Legends, Poke Col, and SW:KotOR, i.e. games that don’t suck, beckon me.



LET’S REVIEW
10-Point Reviewing Scale Technology: “It’s why we’re just better.”

CAREER MODE:

What’s a Lowrider you ask? No, it’s not a new amendment to the Karma Sutra. Car enthusiasts have taken the hobby of customizing to a whole new level, souping up their cars with ever more artistic designs, major hydraulics and ludicrously loud sound systems. These modified cars and the people who build and drive them, are known as Lowriders. Ever see a Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Master P, or just about any rapper’s video where the cars are bouncing around like they’re hopped up on Heroine and Speed? That should give you the idea.

Its popularity has grown outside rap videos though. Lowrider Shows are held the world over where participants use their cars to compete against other vehicles in car dancing, hopping, and cruise shows. That’s what this game is based on.

Lowrider’s career mode is called Golden Days. You live in South Cali near the Mexican border, own your own used Impala, like lowriding with your friends, and aspire to one day be good enough to lowride with the big boys at shows across the country. Starting out with your junk Impala, you do street cruises to gain fans and start entering competitions. Once you win some competitions, you have money to purchase various upgrades in the shop to make your car look like something other than a large grey box. Upgrades include 18 categories from wheels to batteries to the worst paint-customization tool ever implemented in a videogame. This is the main gravy of your quest; upgrading your ride to go back and do more competitions building your way up to the Super Show in Las Vegas.

Truthfully, the core story’s not that bad. The whole concept is kinda cool actually. But the career mode kills it. Consisting of nothing more than a world map, a fat bald Porte Rican guy barking orders, and some random icons representing events… it’s all pretty barren and weak. Your only interaction within the story is with the aforementioned fat bald guy as your competitors are faceless nobodies and you apparently have no other friends. Much more could have been done to draw you in, but it’s just as well. Why waste a good career mode on a bad game?

Career mode rating: 3/10

GRAPHICS:

OMG. What a huge steaming pile of crap. I’ve seen prettier sites inside colostomy bags. Everything from the ugly two frames of animation sprites pretending to be crowds, to the muddily textured repetitive looking vehicles, to the laziest box-shaped backgrounds ever programmed into a videogame, to loading screens that look like they came straight out of bad porno movies. Even the sky lacks any sort of detail, colored nothing more than a solid black or blue. It’s all sooo sooo appallingly bad that I had a hard time picking out something good about ANY of it. I mean it’s not like they had a whole lot to depict here, people! IT’S CARS HOPPING UP AND DOWN. Make the blasted cars look good and throw in some half decent backgrounds! Games with so much more have looked so much better on so many lesser systems that it’s embarrassing to watch this. This garbage is beneath the PSX, let alone the PS2. Made me long for the golden days of graphic brilliance emanating from my Commodore 64. No lie. I’m pretty sure what’s been accomplished here could be done a SNES, with way more impressive results.


And this is a GENEROUS picture…

Feh… I could continue on. You all KNOW I could, but I’m going to stop here and just say this is absolutely the worst looking game ever released for the PS2. Period. Nothing tops it. Nothing. I challenge you all to find something worse that’s not an emulated classic or on some kind of compilation disc. Just fugly.

Graphics rating (for a PlayStation 2 game): 1/10

SOUND:

You have GOT to be kidding me. Please somebody tell me they were kidding?? Out of all the aspects of Lowrider that I expected to be at least half decent, this had to be the WORST. I can understand why Jaleco licensed “Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, because that’s the only decent music in the game. The repetitive stock music left over from the Japanese version, played during competitions, is simply mind-numbing. The bouncy quasi-hip hop Japanese rock song is cute at first, but the fact it’s the same tune played nearly EVERY time you complete slowly drives you insane. And loading screen music, awkward and out of place, sounds like it was created using midis from Qbasic.

Announcer voiceover work is repetitive and obnoxious. Sound effects are just barely passable. And the only good song in the game-“Get Low”-is played so rarely you wonder why they bothered at all. For depicting a culture that’s so heavily immersed in its music and acoustic ambiance, they dropped the ball in every way possible. Pathetic.

Sound rating: 2/10

CONTROL:

Comb overs. Fried Twinkies. The French. All bad ideas. But centering gameplay solely on bouncing cars ranks right up there.

I could elaborate for miles on the specifics of the controls but I’m going to make it real simple for everyone. Whether you’re competing against a rival vehicle in a hop/dancing sequence or “profiling” down the strip, it’s all the same thing. A button symbol or technique flashes on the screen and you push the corresponding controller input over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Sure the techniques all have names and make your car bounce differently depending on which button you push and what not, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all basically the same. Just a bunch of semi-timed button mashing.

How do you win? Notice I said, “timed”. For the majority of the game the object is to make your vehicle bounce the highest. Again, this is accomplished by pressing the same button several times in succession. But to get the highest bounce you need to time your button presses with when the car hits the ground. Easy, right? WRONG. To call button response spotty would be polite. It’s a total crapshoot if when you press down on the controller is equivalent to the “right” moment for this game’s fleeting button input recognition fancy. It’s the worst kind of Control neglect I’ve ever seen, because this is the ONLY gameplay device implemented in the game and it’s sloppy and imprecise. They couldn’t even get rhythmic button mashing right people! They couldn’t even… I mean… ugh… I don’t even know what to say…

So the LITTLE amount of gameplay we do have here is flawed and shoddy. Add in that it’s not that much fun or intellectually stimulating to begin with and you have all the makings for one crappy experience.

Control Rating: 2/10

REPLAYABILITY:

Besides Golden Days there’s only one other mode of play: Arcade Kings. In Arcade Kings, you compete against either the computer or another player. You can choose from Hop, Dance and Unlimited competitions. That’s about it.

Not that you’d want to keep playing, but even if you did there’s not much to keep you coming back. Arcade Kings gets old REAL quick. And upgrading and fine-tuning your car in Golden Days only lasts so long before you’ve completed it with nothing else left to do. You’re not even able to take your upgraded car into Arcade Kings once you’ve spent all that time on it. So to put is simply, when you’re done you’re done. And you’re probably thankful for it at that.

Replayability rating: 3/10

BALANCE:

Spotty controls don’t help anything here. While you’re struggling to even get your inputs to respond properly, the computer-controlled competitors have no such problem. They’ll wipe the floor with you before long in Arcade Kings.

Same thing goes for Golden Days. Worse yet, there’s no way you can be competitive with the broke down car you start out with. Sure the point is to upgrade, but you need to win to get the money to upgrade your ride. It’s a catch-22. You need money to win, and you need to win to get money. The game actually KNOWS this, and realizes there’s no way for you to win at certain events, so it lets you “borrow” someone else’s car at random, after you inevitably lose, as part of the “storyline”. What a crappy way to compensate for lack of balance or steadily increasing challenge. One of the worst balanced games I’ve ever played.

Balance rating: 2/10

ORIGINALITY:

Hmm. It’s… different. I’ll give it that. Only one Lowriding game on Earth exists and this is it. Sure button mashing has been around since the early NES days with Track N’ Field, which is what this game essentially is, a button masher, but to focus that mashing on an American underground pop-culture phenomena such as this is again… different. And honestly, games this bad are a rarity in of itself. Mediocre games are all over the place. Bad games are a plenty too. But games THIS bad? The worst of the worst? A rare, rare find indeed.

Originality rating: 9/10

ADDICTIVENESS:

Funny. I was strangely drawn to this game at first. No really! Ever drive by an accident on a highway and out of morbid curiosity slow down to see if any limbs were torn off or heads decapitated? Sure you have; it’s our fascination with disaster. Welp, that’s the deal with Lowrider. It’s such a freak show you can’t help but stop, point, and gape at it.

Of course as you’d imagine THAT doesn’t last long and what you’re left with is an abomination of a game that you’d never play again except for showing your friends how bad it is when they come over for a good laugh. And it IS good for a good laugh.

Addictiveness rating: 2/10

APPEAL FACTOR:

Riiight… “Appeal”. Well let’s see. This should appeal to the brain-dead, the clinically insane, the retarded, Widro, and… that’s about it. The blasted thing sucks people. SUCKS REEEEAL BAD. What the blood clot else do I need to say? No one is going to want to play this except for the sheer novelty of playing something this awful.

The audience it was targeted towards, the niche Lowrider crowd, isn’t going to stand for this craptastic of a game. Yeah, Jaleco went the semi-distance by licensing Lowrider Magazine’s recognizable logo for the game, and even went to Lowrider events to show it off. But it’s all for naught because unlike the people and culture that spawned it, this game isn’t remotely cool. I would think those caught playing it would be beaten up, wedgied, and stuffed into gym lockers for even thinking of touching the thing. But that’s just me. That’s what I’d do anyway.

Appeal Factor rating: 2/10

MISCELLANEOUS:

The only thing Lowrider truly succeeded at was making me giggle and that lasted only for a few moments. It’s not like there were some truly redeeming qualities that made me sad this wasn’t a better game. I could say that about Kirby Air Ride. I could say that about Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Those games at least had something, SOMETHING, that I could look at and say, “Now if only they had improved this, or expanded on that…” Not the case here. From the second you press start it sucks and keeps on sucking the longer you keep torturing your television with it. Sad and embarrassing for all involved.

Miscellaneous rating: 1/10


Short Attention Span Summary
Read the writing on the walls people and realize that buying this game would be akin to making one of the biggest mistakes of your life, right up there with using homemade condoms. Crappy graphics. Terrible sound. Horrid controls. They took a cool concept, shot it, buried it, and pissed on it. Stay away at all costs.