Review: ATV Fever (Nintendo Wii)

ATV Fever
Publisher: Storm City Games
Developer: Storm City Games
Genre: Racing
Release Date: 10/01/2010

Not too long ago, I took a look at the latest racing title to come from Storm City Games: ATV Fever for the Nintendo DS. I felt it was a functional, if bland, ATV racer that wasn’t good enough to even justify a budget price. However, as is the case with a lot of titles that share a home on both consoles and portables, sometimes the experience is watered down to accommodate the less powerful hardware, and thus the console version is the ideal way to play. Is this the case with ATV Fever as well, or is it even more disappointing than its handheld counterpart?

Let’s Review

Story/Modes
As was the case with the DS version, there is a myriad of modes presented in the game, though they all play pretty much the same. Fortunately, there are a few more additions this time around. First of all, you have your Championship mode which is where the unlocking of new modes and ATV’s will take place. You will be required to use a particular class of ATV (though it can be of whatever color of your choosing) and must race against seven other participants in a series of at least three races. Some of the later championships will have more. Depending on how you place, you will earn a number of points. Whomever has the most points at the end of all of the races will be the champion. Luckily, as long as you place in the top three you will unlock new ATV’s and tracks.

There is also an Arcade mode which breaks down into three smaller modes. None of them are as cool as they sound. You’d think modes with names such as Supersonic and Rocket would provide some really intense, balls to the wall action, but they are just a naming convention for the different classes of ATV’s. Instead, you will race against seven participants as you had before, but you must clear a checkpoint within a certain amount of time in order to keep racing.

New to the Wii version is a mode called Slalom which is a tournament style variation of the traditional racing. You go head to head with one other racer and must drive through checkpoints that match whatever color is assigned to you (be it red or blue). If you miss any of these checkpoints, you are given a time penalty when the race finally concludes. You must race around the stage twice, and the times on both are combined together at the end of the round. Whomever has the shortest times gets to proceed to the next round. You do this until all the other racers are eliminated.

There is multiplayer this time around. Two players can participate in the Slalom mode as well as a multiplayer exclusive mode called Pursuit. Again, not as exciting as a game of tag or anything like that. Just a standard race between two friends with the winner being the one who completes the race in the fastest time.

You also have a Free Play mode that allows you to pick whatever track and ATV you want as well as weather conditions and race a few laps around with seven counterparts just like most of the other modes in this game. The game tricks you into thinking there is a variety of stuff to do, but there really isn’t. It’s all the same. Even the new multiplayer modes are so similar to each other, that to call each of them their own mode is a bit of a stretch.

Story/Modes Rating: Poor

Graphics

This is certainly one area that’s a huge improvement over the DS version at least. Rather than everything being drab backgrounds populated by dirt roads, there is actually a lot more variety and detail to the tracks, and it’s not just because of the various obstacles that litter the tracks now. This isn’t to say that the visuals are particularly stand out for a Wii title, however. Especially since the characters and their ATV’s are nothing special to look at. In fact, they are incredibly lacking in detail. At least the game’s performance doesn’t appear to sputter at all, as I never encountered any graphical glitches or frame rate drops.

Graphics Rating: Decent

Sounds

There is no voice work at all, just the simple sounds of engines for the most part. I was glad that the engine sounds were a bit more authentic than those in the portable rendition and the checkpoint sound doesn’t sound half as obnoxious either. This is not to say that the sound effects are suddenly good now, just less annoying than they once were.

There is a decent soundtrack that plays in the background of the various races, and it’s fairly serviceable. It’s also fairly limited, so you’ll be hearing the same, low rock soundtrack repeating over and over during your races, but what’s there accompanies the tense atmosphere of the races so it’s not likely to bother you too much. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like these were the same tracks that were used on the DS version. If not, they certainly sound similar.

Sound Rating: Decent

Control/Gameplay

As simplistic as the rest of the game is, it’s nice that the controls are easy to learn. You also have some options. You can opt for the Wiimote/nunchuk combo or you can use the racing wheel if you still have one (you know, that hunk of plastic that came with Mario Kart Wii that’s probably sitting in your closet somewhere). I tried out both, and I felt the nunchuk provided far better control than the racing wheel. There’s a lack of precision that comes with turning and it seems like even the slightest motion will send you veering off the track. If you choose this control scheme, your face buttons are delegated to acceleration and breaking and the B trigger acts as your power slide. You can also use the – button to boost temporarily if you so choose. On the Wiimote/nunchuk, the B button is your acceleration, A is brake, and your turbo and powersliding techniques have been moved to the nunchuk’s buttons. It’s a pretty standard affair, but that’s really all there is to it. Each track is one big circle that you must lap around ahead of your opponents in order to finish first. Repeat ad nauseum.

Another improvement over the DS game is the fact that all your information can fit onscreen rather than having to cycle between what is on the bottom screen. Your lap times and speedometer are all visible on the corners of the screen, though it is sadly lacking a minimap this time around. Having the option to change from your speedometer to your minimap would’ve been nice here, even though it was inconvenient on the DS. At the very least they could have mapped this to the unused d-pad.

One unique feature, if you can even call it that, is the ability to convert air time into more boost. Every time you go off a jump or spent a considerable amount of time in the air, the game will tell you how much distance you got after you land. This then translates into more boost for you to use at your leisure. While it does encourage you to hit all the jumps rather than simply making it from point A to point B ahead of everyone else, it lacks any sort of style. Racing would feel less bland if I at least had the ability to do some tricks or even kick some of the other racers. Having obstacles to run your opposition into is nice, but can hardly be considered a substitute.

Control/Gameplay Rating: Mediocre

Replayability
You can finish the championships and pretty much unlock everything within an hour or two. Beyond that, you’re looking at either trying to beat your previous times on each track or attempt to unlock some of the in game achievements. Considering the Wii doesn’t currently have its own achievement/trophy/reward system, it’s kinda neat that the developers took the time to implement one into this game. However, there aren’t very many of them and you will likely conquer those with minimal effort as well.

Replayability Rating: Bad

Balance
The computer A.I. Is still pretty braindead, and only slightly more challenging than its DS counterpart. The biggest obstacle you will face is… well, the obstacles themselves. There are tires, barrels, and other random crap that litter the track just waiting for you to plow headlong into them. The racers themselves don’t present any sort of challenge whatsoever, although they do have the tendency to get in your way when you are trying to avoid things. The achievements they give you aren’t very taxing at all, consisting mostly of getting first place in said championships and completing laps without running into the wall.

Balance Rating: Below Average

Originality
ATV games are a dime a dozen and there isn’t anything separating this game from the rest of the pack, even with its budget price. There doesn’t seem to be quite as many titles featuring ATV’s on the Wii as there were on the DS, but without anything to hook the player and keep them there, what does it matter? Nintendo’s console is a home to what many would consider to be shovelware, so without a compelling gimmick to make it stand out from the crowd, ATV Fever will likely get tossed aside in favor of a much more worthwhile experience.

Originality Rating: Awful

Addictiveness
I’m going to give slight props for the addition of the mini achievement system that was put into place. In a way, it plays off of the obsessive compulsive gaming nature that comes out in all of us from time to time. However, had there been more to do with these achievements (or even more to do period) perhaps I could have been a little more generous in this department. If you like ATV racing games you may find yourself entertained for the couple of hours it will take you to clear all of the championships, but beyond that, there isn’t much here to keep you hooked.

Addictiveness Rating: Bad

Appeal Factor
As I mentioned above, there is a definite market for ATV racing games and as such, fans of those titles will likely express interest in this one. Not only that, but due to the compatibility of the racing wheel, I’m betting those same people will be looking for an excuse to plunk down twenty bucks for a new game to use them with. Considering the wheel makes this game even less playable, even those gamers will realize how foolish it is to bank on this game for their racing kicks (though, come to think of it, I can’t think of one game that utilizes the wheel in a positive manner). All that’s left are the gift givers, and although you could do much worse than this, I’m sure there are better choices waiting for new homes among the end caps of the checkout line.

Appeal Rating: Dreadful

Miscellaneous
This game is much cheaper than other new Wii titles, releasing at the low price of $19.99. A budget price is a great selling point for any game, regardless of what kind it is. Unfortunately, the age old expression of you get what you pay for rings true here, making the $49.99 and up titles that much more appealing when you look at it from that perspective. Then there’s the simple fact that there are a number of old titles that can be acquired for less than that and are of much higher quality. It has been enough years into the Wii’s life cycle where even some of Nintendo’s first party offerings have started dropping their price tags.

Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre

The Scores
Story/Modes: Poor
Graphics: Decent
Sounds: Decent
Controls/Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Below Average
Originality: Awful
Addictiveness: Bad
Appeal Factor: Dreadful
Miscellaneous: Mediocre

Final Score: Poor Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
As was the case with the DS version, the Wii edition of ATV Fever is a functional racer that fails to provide more than a few hours of longevity, even with the addition of a multiplayer component. There are a few more modes present here than what were available on the DS, but they vary so little that they can hardly be considered more than a very slight deviation of what was already available. Unless you are a hardcore Honda or ATV devotee, I would suggest passing this up and holding out for something a little more unique. Or fun.

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