Seaside Racing

Compete with your friends in this multiplayer kart racer! Play 1-4 players splitscreen either locally, over system link or on Xbox Live for a total of 8 players. Use your own Xbox Avatar and race through 3 different seaside courses!

It is often said that some games are designed primarily for multi-player with a single player campaign tacked onto it. Generally, this is said of many FPS games as multi-player is their bread and butter, but it's unusual to find myself thinking the same of a racing game. Gustav Olsson's Seaside Racing is just such a title, a racing game with a bevy of multi-player options but no love at all for the single player. Of course, perhaps this is intentional as I tend to believe these sorts of kart racers are geared first and foremost to families and party gaming all the same, so why waste time and resources bothering appealing to hermits?

Seaside Racing is an avatar kart racer in which up to eight people via system link or over Xbox Live can compete on any of three courses: Islands, Cliffs, and Hills. The trial demo locks out the latter two tracks, so I am basing this on my experience with Islands alone, a twisting track of islands and bridges which had me careening around palm trees and dodging barrels and signs along the way. Players begin by choosing any of six colors for their shoe-like kart and then race a couple of laps around the given track. Islands features a couple of jumps which could be exciting, particularly I would imagine while playing with a crowd jostling for position, and a brief forked path gives the course some variety. Players don't seem to be able to improvise their own shortcuts however as I found cutting across the ending spiral to the finish line, bypassing the spiraling mountain section and shaving a few seconds off my time, did not register as a completed lap in the game. While that would be acceptable, it would also be nice if the game included checkpoints along the way to ensure all drivers knew what the game wanted out of them from the get-go.

The race track graphics are fairly good. The scenery is well modeled and react to the drivers running into them with the smaller items falling over or getting knocked away. The sand texturing could be better but looks okay, but the ramps and twisting "mountain" look oddly Gouraud shaded and do not match the rest of the visuals at all. The vehicles themselves are also too simplistic for my taste with just a single body type available and axel-less tires gripping the ground. "Gripping" is a bit of an overstatement as well as the karts are prone to flipping out all over the place. They feel too springy, lacking weight and feeling somewhat disconnected from the track in the way they react to pretty much anything, from simple turning to crashing and jumping from ramps. Landing a jump is tricky and not something the game will allow a player to do at full speed, and though it initially can be annoying, practice and learning how the wonky physics will react will improve one's driving ability.

The big draw I find in Seaside Racing is in the split screen options. Too many games utilize on-line multi-player in place of local, and while that is definitely desirable, it shouldn't be at the expense of the other. Seaside Racing offers up to four-player split-screen racing, making it ideal for families and any others looking to enjoy a kart racer with their avatars. While I don't think the gameplay and limited track variety will satisfy them, I believe it's a decent amount of content for the price. On the other hand, I cannot understand why Olsson released a game without music, especially a fun-themed kart racer. The only sounds to be heard during play are a couple of weak sound effects. There is absolutely no music whatsoever. While the developer may have anticipated that most people would be talking amongst themselves to care much about what music was playing in the background, it still leaves the game eerily quiet and feeling incomplete. Likewise, the lack of AI drivers to race against kill any single player appeal Seaside Racing may have had, and the inability to escape out of a race at any point -- the game immediately starts ticking down until the next race starts -- also gives it a half finished feeling.

Seaside Racing is a somewhat decent racing game which may hold some appeal for its indie game multi-player prowess but offers little else to pull people away from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (which already has avatar support) and the other racing games available for the system, even at its bargain price of 80 points. Seaside Racing may be worth checking out, but I don't see many pulling the trigger given how it brings nothing new to the table and has too many issues and omissions which has the game struggling to justify its cost.

★★★☆☆
July 27, 2010
July 25, 2010 | 80 points
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