Cruis’n Blast Review – Arcade Racing with a Smile

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Know that I am a HUGE fan of arcade racing games and a long time Cruis’n Blast player. I was quite disappointed that the once dominant genre barely held up. Obviously the arcade scene in North America has been in decline for years, and the arcades that exist have gone to redemption machines, which makes me sick. So every time I see an arcade racing game coming out for home game consoles, I’m always excited. But when this version is of a game I spent more than a good chunk of quarters in before this rotten pandemic kept me from going to the only arcade that still has decent games, I jumped at the chance to play it.

Cruis’n Blast is now on Nintendo Switch, and despite what some had feared, the port is very arcade-faithful.

Game name: Cruis’n Blast
Platform (s): Nintendo Switch
Publisher (s): GameMill Entertainment
Developer (s): Raw Thrills
Release date: September 14, 2021
Price: $ 39.99

If you have ever played the game in the arcade then you know what to expect. But for the uninitiated, this game is all about speed, performing tricks, ramping up and having fun. And the fun is exactly what I got the moment I launched this game on the Switch. Also be aware that this is by far the most fun I’ve had with a Switch game in quite some time. I know a few people here at The Outerhaven will look at me sideways for that, but I don’t care.

Ok, I know the first thing you’ll want to know is how the gameplay works and how faithful the port is. In this regard, I am happy to say that the port is faithful to the arcade; the music is there, even though it seems downsampled and the frame rates are high. According to Raw Thrills, they were spinning for a 60fps experience when docked, and while I can’t be 100% sure I feel they are. That said, there are times when the frame rate drops, but it’s barely noticeable when the Switch is docked. The same can be said when playing the game offline and on the go thankfully. The game works great when you want to go shopping on the go; The game’s frame rate is stable and the game does not miss a beat.

Unfortunately, I was unable to try the multiplayer part, as the Switch port supports up to 4 players on a single console. Why? No one wanted to play it with me, and the lack of an online mode (we’ll get to that later) didn’t help matters.

The game is super simple; you run from point A to point B, and that’s it. There are no laps, and for this reason the tracks you run on are short and can be completed in under a minute. This is great for people who like bite-sized content, but it may not be enough for others. In an age when arcade racers, the ones out there, take a little longer to complete a track, it’s awkward – yet that’s what happens when you take an arcade game and wear it. Arcade games are developed to take your coins and get you started as quickly as possible; it is their nature. This doesn’t translate well when arcade games are ported to home consoles and the like.

On that note, Cruis’n Blast has a lot going for it. This doesn’t mean you won’t be bored; you won’t get bored that quickly. You’ll want to collect multiple keys scattered around each stage, and they’re not easy to grab. Entering them will allow you to add more cars to choose from. Outside of arcade mode, you can also participate in a round, and finishing in an elevated position will open up more laps for you to run. Then there are the multiplayer modes which work well if you can get 2-4 people in the same room as you. There is no online mode and the game’s biggest omission, in my honest opinion. An online mode would have been fantastic, especially during this pandemic we are all going through. A time trial mode has also been built into the game, which is great for people who want to get through these tracks faster than you can already.

I’m not the biggest Nintendo Switch fan, but I’m not one to shy away from a game just because it’s available on the Switch and it’s an underpowered system. That said, many of the elements that made the arcade game so good are intact here. The stages have a lot of things in the background and on the tracks that animate the races. The traffic that makes racing so painful is also coming back, as are the annoying police cars.

No challenge at all.

OK, now this is where Cruis’n Blast fans can end up hating me, and that’s perfectly fine, as it has to be said. There is literally no challenge in this game whatsoever. Due to the way the game treats you in kid gloves, you can hold the throttle down and win most races. I am not joking. The only real challenge is having enough boost to get there first, and that’s it. If you fall off the track or something, the game will reset you and get you back to the middle of the race.

There is no way to lose in this game unless you don’t try. You don’t even have to steer as the game will constantly reset you. It’s a holdover from the arcade and, again, one of the things that doesn’t translate well in homeports. To take it a step further, there’s even an auto-acceleration toggle option.

If you like challenges in your games, you won’t find them here; arcade games aren’t meant to be difficult.

Cruis'n Blast review screenshot-03

Almost perfect arcade

I figured making the jump to the Switch would require some tweaking here and there, so let’s talk about it. However, before I do, none of this harms the game, but it’s worth pointing out. Ahem, okay, why the hell is the announcer missing the game? I don’t get it, and even though it’s such a small omission, I miss him, damn it.

The vehicle models look great in action, however, when you see them standing still. As during the car selection screen, you can see that the models have been scaled down for the port to work on the Switch. Again, that’s okay because you’re going to be racing. There are several effects, such as breaking the glass when completing a race that is also missing, but again, that’s okay. There is also no online mode and that is the biggest omission from the game. An online mode would have been fantastic, especially during this pandemic we are all going through.

Globally

Raw Thrills did a great job with porting Cruis’n Blast to the Switch, and despite a few things left out and the obvious arcade footprints, it’s a fun game. With the lack of online play and the tracks being so short, I can’t see people returning to Cruis’n Blast once the initial thrill of having the arcade finally available is over. That said, if you are someone who has constantly visited the local (or distant) arcade to play this game, then you will enjoy this port. Others who want more substance in their arcade racing games, this might just be a tease for you.

Review the disclosure statement: Cruis’n Blast has been provided to us by Raw Thrills for our review. For more information on how we rate video games and other media / technology, please see our Review Guidelines / Rating Policy for more information.

Disclosure of Affiliate Links: One or more of the links above contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission if you click and purchase the item.

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Summary

Cruis’n Blast is a faithful port of the arcade classic, which suffers from the direct port of the same game. It’s fun, it’s fast, and will keep you entertained for hours. However, unless you are a big fan of arcade racing games, you might just drop it and never get it back. There is no substance and it hurts the game in the long run.

Advantages

  • True to the arcade
  • Lots of fun
  • Frame rate is excellent on the dock or on the go

The inconvenients

  • The steps are too short
  • Downgraded graphics

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