The people at Raw Thrills have brought back a piece of my adolescence. In 1994, Game designer Eugene Jarvis released the classic driving arcade game Cruis’n USA. Over the next five years, they released sequels Cruis’n World and Cruis’n Exotica. Jarvis, the designer behind Defender, Narc and SmashTV and Andrew Elof founded Raw Thrills in 2001.
Raw thrills are behind popular video games like the Fast and Furious Series, Superbikes Series, Big Buck Hunter and Jurassic Park Arcade. In 2017, they released their fourth Cruis’n title in the arcades, Cruis’n Blast. Now you can experience the fun on the Nintendo Switch.
Cruis’n Blast brings back all the experience of the original games. Fast-paced racing, wild tracks, boosts and so much more. The console version brings a number of extra features for that replayability factor, including multiplayer and the ability to upgrade, unlock and customize your vehicles.
“Cruis’n Blast brings back all the experience of the original games. “
The game features 29 tracks split into six tours and the original five arcade tracks, starting with the Night Tour. Playing in Tour Mode, you can race a circuit of four tracks to unlock the remaining five tours. The Classic Arcade Mode allows you to play the original arcade tracks as they were released in 2017. Also available are Time Trials and Single Race modes.
You also start with several real-life cars, including a Corvette Stingray, the Nissan 370Z, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado and more, with the ability to unlock another eighteen vehicles. Each vehicle has its own attributes for Speed, Acceleration, Blast (That’s your nitro boost), Weight and Off Road Capability. Choose your ride wisely to get through the tracks.
Each vehicle can be customized by changing the paint colour, adding neon effects, decals, changing the body kit and upgrading the engine as well as adding additional Nitro Blasts. You can earn upgrades by gaining XP, earning money by winning races or finding cash or keys on the tracks.
All of these additions to the original five-track game add a ton of replay value to the game as there are goals to achieve, unlike the arcade version where the only real goal is to win the race.
The multiplayer also adds a huge value to the game. You can play the local multiplayer among other connected Nintendo Switch Units or on the same screen. The game is playable on the individual joycons thanks to the simplified controls in the game. I can say as a kid, multiplayer racing games filled hours upon hours of our evenings with fun.
“Detailed enough to distinguish them as accurate depictions of their real-life counterparts “
The graphics are not a huge jump from their earlier iterations in this reviewer’s opinion, but that doesn’t really matter to me in a game like this. There is a lot of extra detail in the environments so you will definitely have to race each track a number of times before you see everything they have to offer.
The cars themselves in Cruis’n Blast look fairly basic. Detailed enough to distinguish them as accurate depictions of their real-life counterparts, but they feel very arcade-like. This is not a bad thing as the whole point is to play the arcade experience on your console. Don’t expect Forza or Need for Speed-level vehicle detail, though.
The biggest improvements in graphics in the game, however, are in the lighting, shading and reflection. While not as high detail as we have seen in late generation consoles or on PC, it is a noticeable improvement from the early games and, frankly, the environment is the bulk of the experience when playing the Cruis’n games, because they put a lot of work into it.
The gameplay is simple, which is incredibly important for a game like this. You want to be able to bring people into the game and to have them be able to pick up a controller and hit the ground running, or I guess rolling in this case.
The sound and music are very reminiscent of the original games. A little cleaned up, but very much with that arcade feel. One of my favourite moments with the old games was that opening song, setting the tone for the game and this game starts the same way. The music is loud and energetic and the environmental sounds are immersive, but not distracting.
Most important to me, though, as someone who grew up in the 90’s, is that Raw Thrills managed to recreate the feeling I had playing those old arcade games. They were loud, colourful, a little corny (in the best way) and just a lot of fun.