Among avid gamers, it’s commonly believed that Satan makes any game better. We shall now test this hypothesis with Pocket Racers. Can Satan’s presence (or in this case, the presence of a hooded facsimile) make this racing game stand out from such portable peers as Ridge Racer, Initial D: Street Stage, and Outrun 2006?
Review of Pocket Racers without Satan:
It’s a racing game where you play as a tiny toy car zipping around a messy house. Since the track walls are made up of differently-colored, oddly-shaped objects (like yellow jars and green books), it’s harder to make out the boundaries than it would be in games that use dashed road lines, such as Night Driver on the Atari 2600 or the 1982 arcade classic Pole Position. There are lots of ramps, which might be neat if the sensitive controls didn’t make you flip over and skid across the ground (forcing the game to reset your car’s position . . . often pointing you straight at a wall). The framerate is inconsistent, which is poison to a driving game. The weapons — for Pocket Racers aspires to be a combat racer, thus putting itself in a losing battle against the likes of Super Mario Kart . . . 1 — make roadside objects explode, but rarely have any visible effect on rivals.
Is Pocket Racers playable? Yeah. It is. And I regret the time spent playing it.
Review of Pocket Racers with Satan:
According to the instruction manual, you and your friends were having an awesomely wild party. Based on the cheesy in-game cinema, it was actually awesomely boring. No matter! While you were standing around talking to your alternative grunge buddies, a mysterious hooded intruder — undoubtedly a staunch servant of Satan — crashed the party! This diabolical demon cast a dark spell on everyone, transferring their souls into tiny, generic knock-offs of Hot Wheels cars. As a pawn in this wicked bastard’s scheme, you must now race around the house with your friends’ lives at stake. Should you lose a race, Satan (or in this case, a hooded facsimile) shall claim their eternal souls!
Doesn’t Pocket Racers sound so much better now?
This concept might have been kind of cool if you had to dodge fiery hellhounds or race across rickety bridges spanning chasms of flame, but no! Instead, the races take place in your extraordinarily messy house, where you have to avoid such hellish obstacles as cups, books, and pencils. Clearly, this game mocks the power of Satan. I must therefore deduct additional Hokuto stars from my final rating.
Although I approached Pocket Racers with an open mind — hell, I actually bothered to play the thing — I left with anything but. Aside from Satan (or in this case, a hooded facsimile), this is an ill-conceived, poorly-designed racer that constantly reminded me how much cooler Micro Machines was. This is the kind of game that jackasses beat up on to prove they’re “keepin’ reviews real”, but this one actually deserves it. Pocket Racers shames Konami and it shames Sony of America’s PSP quality control. You know, the quality control that rejected Sakura Taisen 1 & 2.
But hey, I’m sure Sony learned their lesson and the Vita will be different, right?