Review: Build’N Race (Nintendo Wii)

Build’N Race
Genre: Racing
Developer: ICON
Publisher: ZOO
Release Date: 08/25/09

You know you should be suspicious of a game when local retailers have never even heard of the title. Such is the fate of the newest release from ZOO games, makers of such games like Calvin Tucker’s Redneck Jamboree and ATV Quad Kings. Build’N Race is a Wii racing game from little known developer ICON Entertainment. Everything about the game is essentially summarized within the title: You can build and you can race.

Because the title is Build’N Race, you’d expect that the only two things the game needs to get right is the building, and the racing…right?

Well I’ve got good news and bad news for you.

The Good news? The building portion of the game is fairly well done. Shortly after you go into the building aspect of the game, it takes about 15 minutes to really get a handle on the building system and start to get creative with making your own tracks. Once you get the hang of it, creating a track is pretty easy. There are a lot of options including backgrounds to place around the track so that it doesn’t look like you are racing in a wasteland, different stunt ramps, above and below ground racing, etc. As a simple 3D track editor, Build’N Race succeeds in making a simple, easy to use creation tool. You will not really be able to create anything completely outstanding, but there are a lot of options within the game to play around with.

The Bad news? Everything else kind of sucks.

You will be able to tell that it is a budget Wii game immediately. For some reason a lot of budget Wii games don’t use the Wii IR motion control for selecting menu options. In fact it’s almost completely ignored in the game. If you have a nunchuck plugged in, the default option will have you control steering with the joystick. The game doesn’t even ask if you’d like to race with the motion controls, although it is an option. This doesn’t make much sense as the only thing that separates a Wii game from, well in this case a Nintendo 64 game, are the motion controls. You know, the whole reason people actually spent money on the system.

While the building fundamentals are simple enough with the default control scheme, it would’ve been even easier if you could’ve used the Wii remote as sort of a mouse pointer to drag and drop different pieces of the track across the screen.

No matter what control scheme you use, the game doesn’t control very well. The nunchuck and remote controls are arguably the better control scheme but that’s not saying much. A to accelerate, B to brake, Joystick to steer, Z button to use a nitrous boost, and C to handbrake. There is a Simple method with just the remote where you hold the controller sideways. 2 to accelerate, 1 to brake, D-Pad to steer, A to handbrake and B to boost. This doesn’t work out so well because it’s uncomfortable to try and steer and choose when to press the B button to boost. Then there’s the tilt method.

Dear god, avoid the tilt method.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the sensation of driving drunk, check out the tilt method. It has all the discomfort of the simple method, but with the inaccuracies of tilting the controller to steer. It seems like it is impossible to not oversteer in one direction or the other. There are three different sensitivity settings for this and none of them make it any better. The sensitivity seems to range from incompetent to full blown DUI style of driving. It soon becomes clear why this wasn’t the suggested default method of racing as while you’re flailing all over the track the computer AI is running the track smoothly.

The heart of the game is an arcade racing experience. I have no problem with this and love arcade racing, but it’s just not fun in this game. The steering just feels off no matter what control method you choose. Boost is nearly unlimited, there’s a bar that refills when you do not use boost but it’s never a concern as using boost for more than a few seconds is a guaranteed way of crashing into a wall or sailing off of the course. Drifting and trading paint is encouraged, but the controls make it too easy to accidentally oversteer then accidentally overcorrect. It’s not fun.

There are all of the standard modes usually found in a budget racing game. Championship mode is the main single player mode where you are required to win races in order to unlock more racetracks. Then there are time trials modes, multiplayer modes, but nothing out of the ordinary aside from the track editor.

Of course the game isn’t any fun to play so even if the game had 100 unique modes it wouldn’t make a difference. Which in fact brings me back to the building mode…it might have a good track editor, but what is the point of creating a track when you will never want to race on it? Plus you can’t trade tracks online or download new tracks, something you can do with even downloadable games from the different console services such as WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade.

All the modes and the editor lengthen the game experience, but why would you ever want to lengthen the experience of this game?

Heck, I haven’t even had a chance to insult the graphics or sound yet! The car models are actually kind of good, and the game has some different custom options for spoilers, paint and rims. None of this matters however once you see the tracks. To say the tracks are ugly is an insult to the term ugly. If you take off your socks you can count the pixels in this game on your hands and feet. This game is fugly. The backgrounds are on par with something like M&M Beach Party and are amongst some of the worst graphics I’ve seen on the Wii system.

I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact that you can create your own tracks, including dropping in whole buildings as background. But there comes a point where if you are sacrificing so much graphical prowess in order to fit in another mode, that a decision should be made on whether it’s worth it.

What’s odd is the fact that the cars look so much better than the backgrounds. It’s like you are racing PS2 level cars on N64 level backgrounds. They don’t mesh well together and makes the whole experience seem even more disjointed.

The sound, from the background music to the sound effects, is bad. Not enough to make you shove a pencil in your ear, but close.

Honestly I thought the best part of the game is the manual. The game has short background on the AI drivers, including physical descriptions of characters YOU WILL NEVER, EVER SEE.

One of the AI drivers is a 19 year old entertainment lawyer. Another is an obnoxious man who wears a bowling shirt and sports stubble and a permanent snarl. Another is a cop with a wry grin. Remember, you never see these guys. For the finale one of them is a man named Rich…whose background is the fact that he is rich!

The guy who wrote the manual showed more creativity than anything within the actual game.

So the game is called Build’N Race, and it has a decent building system but that doesn’t matter since there’s no way to share the tracks online. Besides, the racing sucks so bad you’d be embarrassed to show the game off to a friend locally.

If you see this game in a store, get back and your car and race away from there as fast as possible.

The Scores
Modes: Decent
Graphics: Bad
Audio: Bad
Gameplay: Awful
Replayability: Awful
Balance: Awful
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Bad
Appeal Factor: Awful
Miscellaneous: Worthless
Final Score: Very Bad Game

Short Attention Span Summary:
Since I haven’t seen a store willing to admit in the existence of this game, it will likely be hard for anyone to accidentally purchase this game on a whim or for their grandkids. At least that’s one positive thing I can say.

3 Comments
  1. Matt Yeager

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