Part one of the craziest racing games: Shoot your opponents, strictly follow traffic rules or transform your character into a vehicle.
Photo credit: Hitmaker / Tamsoft / Artefacts Studio / Magic Bytes / Radical Entertainment
Sim racing games all aim to convey the most realistic experience and to come as close to traditional motorsport as possible. Laser-scanned tracks, cars performing like their real counter-part, detailed liveries and logos – its all about realism. But let’s take a break from simulations for once and race in the opposite directions: straight towards the craziest racing games where it seems like the developer’s fantasies had no limits.
From racing as an iconic orange cat to chasing robot wasps as a Simpsons characters, the market for racing games offers countless gems. Let’s start with the first part of our series on the craziest racing games.
Have a N.I.C.E Day
In 1997, the realm of video games created a special and slightly disturbing gem for PC: Have a N.I.C.E Day by Synetic. After every race, players earn money to upgrade their vehicle. But you cannot only save your cash for a better engine, you can also upgrade your car with an arsenal of weapons. What’s your preferred tool to overtake your opponents? A gatling gun, missiles or by throwing some nails on the track so their tires burst?
The circuits are just as adventurous as your journey leads you past pyramids or Aztec structures. On top of that, each circuit features ramps and loopings to further turn up the action. Once you complete a track, you will be greeted by the character Hellcat in his red protective suit. No matter your performance, he will roast you in the cut-scene with sarcastic but entertaining lines.
In 2013, the lazy cat Garfield conquered the racing scene with Garfield Kart for iOS which later got ported to PC and Nintendo 3DS. Initially, the game hit low numbers by video game critics and news portals. Garfield Kart got slammed for being an overall bland, imbalanced and a cheap copy of Mario Kart, as well as controls that are barely responsive.
But the power of the internet catapulted Garfield Kart to fame. The title became a meme, so every platform with user ratings is now spammed with five stars and praising reviews of Garfield. From being one of the greatest masterpieces ever, created by god himself to a hymn of praise for its deep lore which uncovers all mysteries of the universe, the internet most likely had more fun coming up with their reviews than playing the game.
Gubble Buggy Racer
The 2000 game Gubble Buggy Racer from developer Actual Entertainment might be quite unknown, but it is definitely crazy in every aspect. The protagonist is a purple alien which originates from an earlier title by the same publisher called Gubble. In that game, the alien had to jump on screwdrivers and complete levels in a deliriously looking universe. The next logical step appeared to put Gubble in a kart on a strange planet where he has to participate in a space race to escape, making use of various weapons.
Gubble Buggy Racer has an unusual graphic design with colors that are hard on the eye, as well as one of the most manical sound tracks you can imagine. The game is quite buggy indeed, but more in terms of cars being stuck in walls or opponent’s karts.
The PS Vita title Drive Girls is a special experience. Players can choose between five female characters in anime style to save the world from evil bugs. The game is not exclusively a racing game since you also have hack-and-slay sections where you fight with your character. But there are also parts where the giggly girls transform themselves into a car so you can race.
Yes, you read that correctly. Your character morphs into the vehicle herself. Unfortunately, the game’s weird premise cannot cover up its rather bland story and repetitive battles and races.
Pyongyang Racer by publisher Koryo Tours is the first and so far only video game that got developed in North Korea. Every beginning is difficult, and Fox News rated the game as “North Korea’s come up with a fascinatingly awful simulation of this mind-numbingly menial chore”.
Why did Pyongyang Racer receive such a harsh rating? Koryo Tours is a travel company who wanted to get more Western tourists to visit North Korea with this game. The goal is to drive through the city for sightseeing and follow all rules and regulations. For example, you are not allowed to hit other cars which is quite an easy task, since they don’t move. There is not much to explore or see, and even less action in the racing itself. But it is an interesting concept indeed.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
The Simpsons: Hit & Run by developer Radical Entertainment was an incredibly popular, yet still strange game that was published in 2003 for GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. The objective is to discover the secret behind a swarm of robot wasps that descended all over Springfield. The player has to complete missions and quests with the Simpson’s characters.
Each member of the yellow family could unlock special vehicles such as a fire truck, a witch broom, a ghost ship or Krusty’s Limo. As the title suggests, you have to be careful not to crash too much or drive too recklessly, or Wiggum and his fellow policemen will catch you.
A compilation list of crazy racing games cannot skip Crazy Taxi from SEGA. In 1999, it came to the arcades and quickly conquered the Dreamcast. Sequels for other platforms followed throughout the years, making it an incredibly popular franchise.
As you probably already guessed, you accept the job as a cab driver and have to drive passengers with your taxi to their desired destinations. To earn some extra money, you have to perform stunts like drifting or jumping, all while racing with high-speed through the pedestrian area. To hype you up for more dangerous stunts, the soundtrack blasts popular rock tracks from bands like Bad Religion and Offspring. Through the chaos, you can also hear weird voice-lines, including the iconic “Shut up and move your butt” from cab driver BD Joe.
Zombie Road Rider
Zombie apocalypse scenarios can usually be divided into two categories: One is dangerous and pessimistic, the other is just fun! Zombie Road Rider definitely belongs to the second one. Zombies are hardly dangerous here, but instead a resource to satisfy your rage. Unlock and hop into different vehicles which you may know from several zombie movies, such as muscle cars, pick-ups or (monster)trucks and push the pedal to the medal.
By driving over hundreds of undead, you gain boost, which lets you drive over more of them even faster. Booya! If you lose control over your verhicle: no problem. Just a short reset and here you go again. Zombie Road Rider surely can’t live up to high expectations and is a pure trashfest. For only €4.99, you can’t demand much more. But if you shut down your brain just like your braindead counterparts you might catch yourself having more fun than you would ever like to admit.