Game Reviews

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Wacky Races Dreamcast ****

Wacky Races Dreamcast ****

I've been aching for someone to make the fabulously camp Hanna Barbera cartoon into a game for ages. So bid a fond hello to Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, Dick Dastardly and the rest of the motley Wacky Races crew. Cast your mind back to its TV heyday and you might remember that the competitors would employ filthy plots and ridiculous cheating strategies in order to cross that line first; nothing's changed here. Penelope races round with a powered hairdryer implement for an extra boost and the fiendish Dick Dastardly thinks nothing of getting out his extend-o-magnet to slow the competition down.

The cartoon transfers to game as effortlessly as Penelope applies lippy in her rear-view mirror. Each character is as perfectly defined as it was in the cartoon and the graphics are crystal clear: Peter Perfect will overtake in an embarrassment of effusive apologies, Professor Pat Pending's inventions are as bonkers as ever and Mutley still sounds like a choking chain-smoker.

The structure of the game is more amorphous than is usual for a racer: explore three worlds and win golden stars by winning on their tracks. An impressive collection of stars will open up new tracks and new challenges - therein lies the secret of the game's longevity. It's tricky to get the hang of initially, but once you realise that the way to win is to cheat, you'll be leaving the others standing. The incarnation for the Dreamcast in no way disappoints and its cheeky personality means shared pole position with Mario's - until now unchallenged - seminal kart racer.

(Infogrames, £39.99)

Need For Speed Porsche 2000 PlayStation *

This is a boys' toys "cars that look like real cars" racer and the latest in an overly extensive series. The selling point is the Porsche licence. Buy Porsches, sell Porsches, race Porsches and smash Porsches to your dull heart's content.

Central to the game is the Evolution mode. Start off in the Fifties with Roy Orbison and follow the car's incarnations through the years by winning games and buying new models with the prize money. Only problem is that since the cars weren't as speedy back then, nor are the races; you end up trundling round the Riviera for what seems a very long weekend.

The graphics fail to impress, too: they're low-resolution and badly defined. The game's one almost-but-not-quite redeeming feature is the Factory mode in which you take the car through its paces on a variety of test-driving missions. If you're a Porsche obsessive, you'll probably quite like it. If you're not, avoid it.

(Electronic Arts, £29.99)

Tony Hawk's Skateboarding Dreamcast ****

And now for something way cool - a skateboarding game. Tony Hawk is to skateboarding what Michael Fish is to weather-forecasting: the king. Grab your board and take to the streets to perform twists, twirls and back flips for points. A high score will take you to new levels with bigger ramps, trickier obstacles and steeper rails to grind down. Initially, attempting to execute one move without bailing in a spray of blood is frustrating. But stick with it and you'll be swooping round the levels with the rest of the air-heads.

Tony Hawk's is different from the crowd and is extremely satisfying once you can turn tricks with a semblance of elegance. Rather radical.