Cruis’n Blast review (Switch)

Fans of arcade racing will have been looking forward to the release of Cruis’n Blast for the Nintendo Switch. The Raw Thrills-developed racer has just launched, so we wanted to check it out as soon as we could.

Older gamers probably remember when videogame arcades were a fairly common sight in the first half of the 1990s, before consoles like the first PlayStation brought more and better arcade-like experiences to homes. They’ll probably also remember the many racing games that came out in that era, from Ridge Racer to Daytona USA. Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World were staples at many arcades as well, but subsequent releases in the series aren’t as well-known. Cruis’n Blast was the last one to launch back in 2017, but with a relative lack of arcades the Switch version is the first chance that many have to play it.

Cruis’n Blast doesn’t waste any time letting you know it’s all about fun and not realism, with over the top gameplay we mostly see in kart racers these days. Rather than just having cars that battle each other to the finish line, you’ll see all kinds of obstacles, you’ll hammer the nitro button and you’ll drift and jump past and over all kinds of crazy stuff in the environment.

As an arcade racer Cruis’n Blast features linear tracks, but as in most modern arcade racers you’ll also have the opportunity to take side roads to try and see if you can use it as a shortcut to get past your opponents. You’ll do all with an eclectic mix of vehicles, as the game features everything from licensed cars to a helicopter or even sharks. This is a game that doesn’t want to take itself too seriously, which is also expressed by the on-screen insanity of powerful storms and earthquakes that happen in the middle of a race.

Like a good popcorn movie, it’s all been designed for quick thrills, but that also means that Cruis’n Blast lacks some of the subtle nuances and content people expect from home console releases. Designed as a game that new players should be able to quickly get into, drift-boosting is very easy to pull off, and the racing engine is built around a model where it’s easy to crash and catch up again.

That’s no big surprise and makes sense when you consider the quarter-based nature of the arcade version, but it’s something you want to build your expectations around before you play. The same goes for content, which has been expanded upon for the Switch release but still isn’t as rich as regular console racers. You’ve still got the handful of tracks from the arcade version, but on top of that there’s also the Tour mode that offers new tracks/variations. It definitely helps, but don’t expect to see any new track content after your first evening of playing.

There’s other content to unlock though, and you can gain access to more cars by collecting keys on each track in addition to spending your race winnings on more content. When it comes to stretching out a content-limited arcade game, Cruis’n Blast does a more than decent job at giving people some additional value for money even if the end result isn’t Forza Horizon or Burnout Paradise.

If you don’t have access to the arcade version, then Cruis’n Blast for the Nintendo Switch is a solid home port that’s fun to play for those nostalgic for some 1990s arcade racing. Visuals really pop in both handheld and TV mode, but take a hit when you go for the split screen mode so that it runs well.

Score: 7.4/10

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