Review: Bigfoot: Collision Course (Nintendo Wii)

Bigfoot: Collision Course
Developer: DSI Games
Publisher: Destination Software
Genre: Racing
Release Date: 12/5/08


Man has always been fascinated with monsters. To that end, you will take on the role of Dirk Manstrong. Armed only with your camera and your wits, you will venture deep into the Everglades in search of the most elusive monster ever-Bigfoot!

Hold on, my editor is screaming something at me….Oh…Okay. Wrong Bigfoot. Let’s start over.

Man has always been fascinated with…monster trucks. In celebration of all that is excessive, massive, loud, and macho, DSI Games brings us Bigfoot: Collision Course so that we too can revel in the power of six-foot tall tires and trucks that live by crushing and destroying lesser vehicles. This promises to be a bumpy ride, but that’s a good thing, right?

Story/Modes
The main story for Bigfoot: Collision Course features a series of racing circuits where you must earn enough points to advance to the next tier of events. You will choose a monster truck based on weight, horsepower, and handling, and jump in to the game. Your ultimate goal here is to earn enough points and win enough races to finally compete against the legendary Bigfoot itself, and earn a spot on the Bigfoot Racing Team. Other modes include practice and head to head, where you can have a friend pick up a Wiimote and race against you.

Sadly, that’s it. All you can do is race in a linear fashion. There are no Demolition Derby modes, no Crash Courses, no Last Truck Standing, nothing. Maybe the Burnout series has spoiled me, but I expect more from an arcade racer these days. I’ll actually refer back to Burnout again, because to me, it was one of the first console games to fully embrace the arcade, crash-em-up feel that this game should have had. B:CC could have shown off these vehicles in a bunch of different modes, and featured tuning and customization so that we can try to create our own monster truck to rumble off into the sunset with. The amount of modes or features missing really stands out next to some of the other games out there today. No one is asking for a monster truck version of Gran Turismo, but being able to swap paint jobs or engine sizes shouldn’t be asking too much.

Story/Modes: Dreadful

Graphics
Well, the frame rate is solid. I wish I could say something more that is positive, but that’s it. The game runs smoothly. The graphics would have been adequate to good for a Nintendo 64 title. Two systems later, the graphics are closer to insulting. All of the trucks are little more than a rectangle sitting atop four circles. The tires themselves are a series of alternating gray and black lines. As you change from vehicle to vehicle, there are slight graphical touches like flames and teeth that will show up on the sides of the trucks, but the resolution is so poor that it is hard to tell what is actually being displayed. The only sharp graphics come in the form of load screens, where you will be shown the developers vacation slides to the Bigfoot company headquarters. Example? One of the screens is a picture of a truck outside a building, with B I G F O showing. The rest of the sign has been cropped out. What the heck?

Then there is the tracks themselves. You will enjoy the most generic levels possible. There is snow level, desert level, jungle level, and rural level. The courses change to become more complicated as you go, but the visuals are bland. Aside from the giant, blank walls all around you, there are small obstacles. Being that you’re in a monster truck, you tend to go right through them. Most of them are orange traffic cones, tree trunks, and strangely enough, red exploding barrels of the type found in almost every first person shooter out there. There are also little car chassis littered about the tracks that you can, in the purest monster truck tradition, smash. However, you will somehow either bounce 100 feet straight up, or launch forward by a few hundred yards. Inexplicable! The only way you can really tell what these things are is to stop next to them, get up close to the screen, and squint. It’s almost like they left the speed blur effects running even if you are sitting still. Nope, just bad graphics.

Graphics: Pretty Poor

Sound
Much like the graphics, this sounds like a 10+ year old game. The engines of these massive machines, possibly the most impressive engineering feat in these vehicles, have three levels of sound-slow, medium, and fast. Or, if you want a description: soft roar, medium roar, slightly-louder-than-medium roar. Impact of objects along the side of the road and in your path will produce canned sound effects that aren’t completely dissimilar to what you would expect. Barrels go boom when they explode, piles of logs go crunch when they are hit. Slamming into another vehicle will cause a slightly metallic ding as well. The soundtrack is pretty much as expected. Rock guitar and synth anthems drive you to excel in each level…or something. Really you’d be better off with turning on the stereo an listening to actual music.

Sound: Pretty Poor

Control/Gameplay
Still, we could certainly ignore a few shortcomings in the graphics and sound categories if we had a compelling, smooth, and fun game on our hands, right? Well, let’s look at how you play. You will hold the Wiimote sideways, and use the tilt function to turn left or right. The 1 button speeds up, and the 2 button brakes and reverses. You also have a couple of power-ups to collect as you race. Green plus signs will repair your monster truck, giving you more consistent speed. Purple gears will allow you to activate a traction buff that will keep you in better control on icy or muddy stretches of the highway. Finally, yellow lightning bolts will allow you to build up and use a turbo boost that will send your chosen monster truck rocketing forward, ignoring all physics as you go. And in fact, most of the debris on the track is actually designed to boost you as well-running over cars, barrels, logs, and even the occasional house with a white picket fence will all fill your turbo gauge.

So, seems like a normal, adequate control system. Are we happy? No. First off, the turning control is loose. You aren’t turning, so much as deciding what relative direction you’re going in. Also, there is practically no incentive to slow down during a turn. You don’t need to worry about cornering as long as you just point yourself forward and keep the accelerator hammered down. And all of those objects that you can hit to boost your turbo? No drop in speed for doing so. In fact, I never once lost a vehicle to damage either to myself or from other truckers.

Okay, that’s kinda screwy, but also? Your speedometer has no unit of measurement. It’s just a number up in the top right of the screen that says 34 or 42 or however fast you are going. Now, I get that this is a multi-region release, so we can’t have mp/h or kp/h because that might confuse whoever is playing if they are in the opposite region. But maybe you could program your game to check the time zone you are in and make an educated guess? Doesn’t the Wii have a setting to tell it where it is? I think so. The game should be smarter than that.

Control/Gameplay: Poor

Replayability
Following just about every other racer out there, you start with a couple of stock vehicles, and unlock more and more as you play. That is the only reason you’ll have to come back to this game. And even that is marred by one huge bug. You only unlock new trucks in Career Mode, okay? And the game does save itself as you go. However, if you leave the Career Mode, you lose all your progress. Not your unlocked vehicles, but all the points and circuit victories you have won. That’s a huge issue, and I can’t believe it left the developer with this problem. Of course, you can actually beat the game in a sitting, as we’ll discuss in Balance. For now though, be aware that there are no online options, no multiple paths, no joy in Mudville. And there really is no difference in the handling from one vehicle to the next. Feel free to beat the whole game with the first truck you select, or pick multiple ones to expand your joy.

Replayability: Dreadful

Balance
I’m not a huge racing gamer, but as I mentioned, I love a few arcade-style racers. However, as the courses become less of a circle or straightaway and more of a Goldbergian pretzel, I tend to lose interest as I don’t have the patience to memorize and plan routes, perfect my brakes, and etc. However, Bigfoot: Collision Course might be the perfect game for me. I can’t lose. It’s like racing on God Mode. In fact, as I mentioned up in graphics, hitting a car hulk won’t always crush it. Sometimes you’ll pop up in the air. This is actually a blessing, as if you hit turbo while in the sky, you’ll rocket along with nothing to stop you. This is a great way to win races: Fill your turbo, get a bounce or catch a ramp, and hit boost. You’ll cover about a quarter of the track in that single jolt. Even on the more advanced circuits, I was close to lapping the competition. It is the opposite of a poorly balanced game that is too hard-this one is too easy.

Balance: Bad

Originality
As a racer, this isn’t that new. But as a game where you are only supposed to be racing in monster trucks, that is cool. There is nothing that makes this concept work here though. What do you think of when you think “Monster Truck?” I think of smashing row after row of cars, massive jumps, and insane stunts. Here, you’ll hit the occasional car, and make one or two jumps per race. There is just no real use here of the concept and setting of a monster truck racer. For all intents and purposes, this is just a re-skinned racing game.

Originality: Below Average

Addictiveness
If the game was better, it would be easier to keep playing. This game is a chore after the first couple of races, as you will quickly see all the courses and won’t have a huge need to go back. Likewise, once you’ve run over your first couple of cars, there’s no need to run over any more. It’s sad, really, because this could have been so much more.

Addictiveness: Very Bad

Appeal Factor
As I mentioned, the concept of Bigfoot: Collision Course is strong. There’s nothing at all wrong with the idea of a monster truck racing game, as long as it is done right. However, nothing at all is done well here. I should be crushing other vehicles, seeing their battered forms driven behind me, and hearing the lamentations of their drivers. Instead, the only laments are coming from me having to boot this up one more time.

Appeal Factor: Bad

Miscellaneous
When I was a kid, I had a toy of Bigfoot. Running on the power of two double A batteries and a forward/reverse/neutral drive system, I spent hours sitting in a sand box and putting little army men into positions, building ramps, and making twig bridges over pits. Once everything was set up, I would unleash the power of that little toy, and see how far it could get and how many soldiers it could bury before it would be stopped. Doing that again in video game form would be awesome. What we have here is instead a failure to capture the child-like joy in taking control of a ten-foot tall, eleven-THOUSAND pound vehicle destroying whatever is in its path. Sure, you run some stuff over, and even can bounce into and past your opposition, but it just lacks that visceral fun factor.

Miscellaneous: Poor

The Scores
Story/Modes: Dreadful
Graphics: Pretty Poor
Sound: Pretty Poor
Control/Gameplay: Poor
Replayability: Dreadful
Balance: Bad
Originality: Below Average
Addictiveness: Very Bad
Appeal: Bad
Miscellaneous: Poor

Final Score: Bad Game

Short Attention Span Summary
Bigfoot: Collision Course is a title that needed a lot more time in the mechanic’s office before it was deemed street worthy. Despite having a very niche market pretty well cornered in this console generation, you can find more fun and variety in a lot of other arcade racing games out there. Steer clear of this one, the exhaust fumes can be killer.

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