Review: ATV Quad Kings (Nintendo DS)

ATV Quad Kings
Publisher: Storm City Games
Developer: Beyond Reality Games
Genre: Racing
Release Date: 03/02/2010

I have always enjoyed the racing genre. It’s easy for just about anyone to get into, if they have the interest. The concept is simple to understand and most games now have many additional features for enhanced gameplay and realism. For me, there is just some sort of sick satisfaction I get out of driving backwards on a track in Gran Turismo, purposely going out of my way to hit cars head on, or playing Mario Kart and intentionally dropping to eighth place, just to land a blue turtle shell, then proceed to hog it the entire race, just to steal first place at the last second and feel some sense of importance. It’s the little things such as these that can really set a game apart from the pack. So now we will take a look at Storm City”Ëœs ATV Quad Kings for the Nintendo DS and see if this game manages to race past the finish line, or if it crashes and burns.

See what I did there?

1. Story/Modes

ATV Quad Kings features three different modes to choose from. Your options are World Tour, Arcade and Time Trial. Once you have selected your mode, you will select which four-wheeler you’ll be racing and the color of your vehicle for that mode. One obnoxious thing about this is that you are forced to select the color again at the beginning of every race. Is it a huge deal? No, but I don’t see why this has to be done, every single time. You can also choose your racer’s number and input your name prior to racing. As far as the modes go, World Tour is basically your career mode here. It consists of six different races with each taking place at different parts of the world (Hence the name!). You earn cash in this mode (by winning tournaments and by completing tricks on your ATV) to purchase new vehicles. World Tour also has four total divisions to play in. Each division consists of a different level of difficulty. The Arcade mode is essentially just a single quick race, rather than competing in the World Tour. The one nice thing about Arcade mode is that the winnings will combine with your overall winnings towards purchasing better vehicles. And lastly there is Time Trial. Just like the Arcade mode, you know what you’re getting here: race around the tracks in order to perfect them, while setting a new track record.

Story/Modes: Decent

2. Graphics

This is by far the weakest part of the game. You can’t help but get the feeling that at some point the designers discovered their ability to copy and paste. What I mean by this is that most character models are exact copies of each other. One of the most hilarious characteristics that they all possess is that the racer’s arms/hands make him look like some sort of praying mantis hybrid. The tracks, for all intents and purposes, could have taken place at the exact location, just during different seasons (grass turns white and now you’re in Russia!). The maps themselves are generally small, with each having no true distinction or uniqueness. Most of the courses like to toss in a random pool of water for your racer to either decide to drive through or move around (causing you to go through mud instead). The water is also pretty lackluster, or at least, I’m also making the assumption that it’s water. Most water I’ve seen in my life has made a “splash” sound when I’ve stepped in it, which would be followed by water… well, splashing. However, the water in game makes you feel like you just went through a Slip “Ëœn Slide filled with Jell-O.

I’d say the biggest slap in the face moment for me was when I completed World Tour mode for the first time and was greeted by two of the same female model clones holding up a “#1″ sign and a trophy that looked it had been super glued onto a cinderblock. On a side note, the game’s options actually provide you with the choice of lowering the graphics setting. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions to the logic in that.

Graphics: Bad

3. Sound

I don’t know if any of you have ever played Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for the Super NES, but if you have, I want you to try to remember the music from that game. The reason I’m asking you to do this is because that is how this entire game sounds. It’s just non-stop guitar riffs… for every track. I don’t who decided that racing games – guitar riffs – ??? = profit, but that individual should be locked away. As for the game’s sound effects, they consist of the standard engines roaring, tires going over bumps, and tires sloshing when going through Jell-O… err, water. Overall, pretty typical stuff, and the quality isn’t that bad, all things considered. I’d say if I had to point out any flaws, it would be that if you have three other racers in close proximity, the sheer noise of the engines sounds like a steady string of firecrackers going off. I was sure to hold my DS a good two feet away from face in case my speakers decided to explode during the process.

Sound: Poor

4. Control/Gameplay

The overall control scheme for the game is very simple. You accelerate your ATV by pressing A, and you decelerate by pressing B. The X button allows you to perform “tricks”, and you determine which trick you want to do by pressing up or down on the d-pad (while holding down X). The Left Trigger allows you to use your turbo ability, which is obtained via a power up you acquire during races (think of the “?” boxes in Mario Kart). Finally, your Right Trigger allows for power-slides while turning. The basic movements of the quads work well enough. Acceleration is very responsive, as is braking. The only part of the game that takes any real mastering would be the power-slide. I have to say that the feel of the power-slide is very loose, almost too loose. It’s not too difficult to get the hang of, but one simple slip up can leave you crashing into a wall or spinning out. The most obnoxious part of the racing has to be the one thing that is supposed to “help” you. What I’m referring to is the turbo ability. You are pretty much forced to use the turbo ability when you are going straight, and only straight. Through trial and error, I came to realize if I attempted to turbo while making a turn or doing anything other than, well… going straight, I was going to collide with a wall or end up going incredibly off course. Another lackluster area of the game is the tricks. You don’t have much air time on most courses to do tricks. Most of the time I ended up settling for a simple right leg ninja kick, or doing a Jersey Shore fist pump. On the bright side, you earn about $200-$300 for each successful trick completed. I just wish this side of the game could have been fleshed out more. Instead it feels as though it was added just for the sake of adding it.

Control/Gameplay: Poor

5. Replayability

For all its short comings, ATV Quad Kings does offer a lot of content to complete. As mentioned before, World Tour mode has multiple levels of races to compete in. The interesting part about this is in order to unlock the different tiers, you must first purchase new quads. So in essence, the game forces you to play through the first mode of play a few times in order to get enough cash to progress to the next tier. You essentially repeat this process until you’ve unlocked the appropriate vehicles to then compete in said races. I was sort of annoyed by this because if you’re someone who has a background in racing games and is half decent, you will blow through the first tier of difficulty with ease. It would have been nice to just jump right in to the next level of difficulty right after completing its precursor.

Replayability: Bad

6. Balance

In my opinion, racing games have always had an issue balancing their experience. This is no different for ATV Quad Kings. Easy mode is like racing against senior citizens in golf karts, while the further you progress up the difficulty ladder, the more supernatural the AI becomes. You could be a good ten seconds ahead of a racer, then for no apparent reason the AI decides to tap into its own rage (probably for being stuck with praying mantis arms). When the AI taps into these powers, you can surely expect it to go flying past you with little to no warning. This can make for some frustrating game play.

Balance: Mediocre

7. Originality

ATV Quad Kings doesn’t try anything different, and you get the impression that it’s proud of that. Somehow, the game manages to capture most of the stereotypical ingredients that make up a racing game. It then, in return, does nothing to make the game stand on its own, nor does it attempt to improve upon what already exists. The power boost is sloppy at best, and the trigger-slide is almost unnecessary due to how loose turning is already. Everything has been done before, and it’s been done better.

Originality: Bad

8. Addictiveness

The main way that ATV Quad Kings attempts to keep you playing and engaged is with the unlockable content, and while the game does offer bonus content to unlock, it is all so generic that I didn’t even see a point to keep going. I mean, I guess if you’re a HUGE fan of the color green and feel the need to play a few hours to have a green quad, then by all means, you’ll love this game. Or perhaps you would rather unlock one of the bonus quad models? Well then, you are in luck, because if you invest just an hour or two of your life (which you’ll never get back by the way), you will be the proud owner of a quad with two tail pipes instead of one.










Addictiveness: Bad

9. Appeal Factor

The whole purpose of an alternative racing game is for it to be exciting and cutting edge. I can almost promise you that as you’re cruising down the mud brick lane, you will not feel excited or immersed in the game. You will only feel deep sadness for what you’re currently experiencing. The entire racing experience is lackluster and fails to deliver the goods.

Appeal Factor: Bad

10. Miscellaneous

What makes ATV Quad Kings so frustrating is the simple fact that a little extra effort would have made all the difference. Between the underwhelming trick system, to the “oh look another perfect oval shaped track” designs, and the legion cloned riders that made me feel like I was in an episode of Power Rangers, every twist and turn I made in game reminded me of just how much of a let down the entire experience is. I will keep this simple: I’ve driven around shirtless on a Power Wheel version of a Kawasaki Ninja, and I felt more of an adrenaline rush from that than I ever did playing this.

Miscellaneous: Very Bad

The Scores:
Story/Modes: Decent
Graphics: Bad
Sound: Poor
Control and Gameplay: Poor
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Bad
Appeal Factor: Bad
Miscellaneous: Very Bad
FINAL SCORE: PRETTY POOR GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary:

ATV Quad Kings is the fast food of racing games. What you are ultimately getting is a low quality game for a cheaper price tag. Please note that I was somewhat hesitant to make a comparison to fast food, because at least fast food tastes good, so it has some redeeming qualities. Well, ATV Quad Kings does not. My hope is that the developers will realize that you can make a quality, fun game without needing to have a huge budget. However, cutting corners and relying on the fact that your target audience will be young males who just want speed around on ATVs and won’t catch on to how they are being shafted just isn’t the best way to go about it. Selling a game for less than the market standard isn’t an excuse to create a poor product.

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