The Cruis’n Series – The Definitive N64 Racing Experience / MY LIFE IN GAMING

The Cruis’n Series – The Definitive N64 Racing Experience / MY LIFE IN GAMING


– I really don’t care about cars. They take me me from point A to point B. ^ Now this hasn’t stopped me ^ from enjoying a racing game here and there in the past. ^ I actually used to rent stuff like Top Gear Rally back in the 90s but pretty much all I can bring myself to care about anymore is Mario Kart and F-Zero. But about a year ago I was in the arcade room at Magfest in Washington DC and a buddy and I played a bit of Cruis’n Exotica. This really brought back a rush of nostalgia for Cruis’n USA. Not from the arcade but the N64 version, which a good friend of mine bought during the game drought that followed the system’s release in 1996. This is a game that I always accepted as being kind of bad but we enjoyed playing it anyhow. I knew it would be a stupid decision but I actually came close to buying a copy for myself way back when. But nowadays when N64 racing games are worth about 5 bucks it seems pretty harmless to given to the guilty pleasure so over the past year not only if I revisited Cruis’n USA but I’ve also checked out the other games in the series that I’d missed. So is there really something there or was it better left as a fond memory? The hook of the series is that it’s a linear racing game through famous locations, no apps, just a straightforward tour of sorts or in the case of Cruis’n USA a tour of the United States from California, eastward to your destination in Washington DC. I think this is what appealed to me most back in the day especially because we were in the early days of 3d graphics. It really felt like going on a road trip across the country and getting to see some well-known sights. Oh in retrospect the representation leaves a little bit to be desired. – [Voice] So this is the Grand Canyon! – Uhhhh, not really. Scenery is very repetitive and scrolls past your vehicle in a distinctly choppy manner, and I have to say there is a bit of a California bias here don’t you think? Give the East Coast and Midwest some love too! But hey back then who wasn’t blown away but how realistic it was that bug splat on your windshield while driving through Iowa in first-person view? The game has a pretty darn good sense of speed and actually controls very easily. The only levels that have much in the way of tricky maneuvering our Chicago and Washington DC. Now the game does require that you get first place to advance to the next race but this is a breeze on lower difficulty levels. It would be a stretch to say that Cruis’n USA is much of a good game but if you have any love or tolerance left for the 3d graphics of 1996, cruising across the US is still a pretty fun and mindless way to kill about 20 or so minutes. So my friend that I was playing Cruis’n Exotica with back at the Magfest arcade room later found a cheap copy of Cruis’n World and gave it to me as a surprise. I’d never played Cruis’n World in the arcade or on the N64 and I was actually kind of immediately impressed. While I can’t compare it to the arcade version, I felt like I was playing a smartly optimized port. Similar to the first game the draw distance is not terribly far but the course scenery blends well with the backgrounds creating a colorful and appealing look and even if the draw distance is lacking it’s a necessary sacrifice for rock-solid 30 frames per second, which honestly feels like a bit of an accomplishment for the N64. So all in all it’s surprisingly technically sound for a series that I had written off as being kind of bad. As you might expect Cruis’n World takes you a world tour that begins in Hawaii, goes through Japan, Australia, Africa, all through Europe, and then ends in Florida where you catch a ride to the moon… Kind of cheating don’t you think? That’s not exactly in the world. Cruis’n World is far less demanding than USA in terms of advancement. Only third or higher is required but it’s also more challenging on default difficulty settings. Compared to the easy-breezy feel of the first game, World feels like it’s trying to ground itself very slightly in reality, very slightly. All I mean to say is that there is some feeling of weight to the vehicles and the crashes and bad turns feel more punishing. This takes a bit away from the feeling of constant and easy movement but does seem like a compromise that might have made the game appeal a bit more to racing fans. The developers also created a light trick system that adds a little bit to the gameplay. The most practical way to use tricks is to pop a wheelie by double tapping the gas which lets you vault over other cars as you approach them from the rear, or get over oncoming traffic without any penalty. it’s a pretty decent addition but they made the tricks way more fun and easy to use in the third game Cruis’n Exotica. I only just got this game and to be honest it’s the reason I wanted to make a video on the series. Cruis’n Exotica it turned out to be a lot harder than I expected it to be but also a lot more fun. Just like the first game you have to earn first place to advance but now there are limited continues. The more miles you drive while making attempts at cruis’n mode the more continues you’ll have for the next time. This was a nice addition that let me get acquainted with the feel of the game without making an eventual victory too difficult to achieve and made me spend a little more time with it than I probably would have otherwise, and I have to admit I didn’t really mind that. This is a dumb game and it knows it’s dumb and it’s all the better for it it takes the trick system from Cruis’n World and makes it far more entertaining. Check it out flipping all over the place, it’s hilarious! Similar to the first Cruis’n game, there’s not a whole lot that slows you down, in fact there’s even less in Exoctica. You’re moving forward and moving forward fast, hitting stuff, going off the road a bit, it doesn’t feel like any of that makes a huge difference compared to even slightly realistic racing games. Combining this light and easy feel with popping a wheelie results in something truly magical. You can flip over your opponent’s cars or flip over oncoming traffic and it looks kind of terrible but it’s so fun and lets you get ahead pretty easily. Not that the game is easy at all, it took some work to get through it but it was a fun little journey. It’s difficult for me to tell if all this flipping was technically all that beneficial and gaining ground and getting ahead but it really made the game for me. If you’re an N64 fan I’d say that Cruis’n Exotica is the Cruis’n game to get. So yeah these are all pretty dumb games but it’s also obvious to me that they were built with some love and an understanding of the limits of the console that they were ported to. And even if each course features a pretty simple track design and repeated visuals, you get to visit a ton of places throughout the series, 41 locations, across three games, check it out Even if the games aren’t that impressive they certainly have a ton of variety. I went into this journey with the Cruis’n series expecting it to be a terrible idea but you know I’m glad I did it. I had a lot more fun than I expected and I wouldn’t have bothered to waste my time making a video about it if I haven’t. I’m probably just crazy though so I’m certainly not giving these games a wholehearted recommendation but beneath all their layers of age and overtly dumb design I think there’s still something worthwhile here. So the next time you run across a 90s racing game for five or ten bucks that you used to enjoy well maybe it’s aged to an irredeemable pile of garbage but hey if you give it a chance maybe not ^ (Captions by Jordan “Link584”)

79 Replies to “The Cruis’n Series – The Definitive N64 Racing Experience / MY LIFE IN GAMING”

  1. Cruisin has always been a guilty pleasure if mine. Even when it came out I knew or wasn't great but it still had charm and was fun in short play settings.

  2. the music. that house special song. that is the TITS! loved this game as a kid and still when i see it in arcade i play it for quite a while.

  3. As an arcade rat myself, I really enjoy these N64 ports of the coin-op originals. While there's unquestionably some sacrifices/compromises that were made to get the games running, they still feel close enough to the arcade to make them playable.

    Exotica is a tough nut to crack, even on Easy settings. I do like the progression system, unlocking rewards based on how many miles you've driven. It increases replay value over many other coin-op ports.

  4. I thought I was the only one who actually likes these games. I used to play these in the arcades in the 90's and while the N64 versions aren't quite as good they still trigger that nostalgia that makes me want to keep playing. I really enjoyed the car green screen visuals. Good work.

  5. If you're ever in an arcade make sure you check out the Fast and The Furious games from Raw Thrills. Some of the guys who made the first three Crusin' games work there now and their a lot like the originals. They made a "kinda" port on the Wii just titled, "Crusin" which got destroyed by the critics but it's still a dumb, fun racer.

  6. I used to play Cruis´n World a lot in the arcades, the lack of realism made me love the game, I hate driving simulators. The n64 version suffers from some framerate problems, but it´s fun too.

  7. Have you ever tried California Speed? Is another really crazy arcade racer like the Cruis'n series for the N64. Check it out. 🙂

  8. The arcade of the first game was at the local bowling alley in my teens. I played it and used a cheat code I found in a cheat magazine which was imported from USA by the local mag store. The cheat code let you use different vehicles by pressing a camera button while selecting. I picked the school bus.

  9. I remember when Crusin World was about to come out. I pre-ordered it and marked down the days till it came out on my calendar in the 6th grade. Still probably my favorite racing game of all time. I played Cruisin USA first and then Crusin World in the arcade originally and loved it. It seemed like the best game ever for the cars and the fact you can run over kangaroos (yeah for some reason that really appealed to me.) I was obsessed with cars and especially Hummers at the time as well.

  10. You should really keep your eyes on the road while driving. At 1:11 you take a turn with out even looking to your left to see if there is on coming traffic. NOT A BLOOPER!

  11. Oh wow, that was Burnout Paradise in the beginning! I love that game, but you have to bind the higher up view, to the same button as the gas, so that you can see more than 2 feet in front of you.

  12. i absolutely love the cruis'n series and think they're completely timeless. i think the only reason they suffered by many critics' standards is that they came out of the time when games – particularly arcade games – still weren't afraid to just be unabashed arcade games without trying to go for zomg photorealism, but all critics wanted in the n64/psx era was zomg moar realism. really, as arcade ports, they're outstanding, and for the most part completely faithful to the original arcade versions. and despite the draw distance, the colorful graphical style and many of the textures are actually quite good.

    the series just came out at a time when the whole fully over-the-top dumb fun arcade experience was losing its luster with the crotchety critic crowd, i think. i've rarely met someone who isn't a video game critic who doesn't still love this series. the games are just fun to play, and graphically, for any flaws they may have, they're still far more interesting and fun to look at than many of the other generic car carers that graced that era of console. cruis'n usa was the first game i bought for my n64 and i didn't care what any of the critics were saying – for me it was just awesome to have such a properly represented 3d arcade experience – one i'd been loving for a few years already wherever i could find the arcade machine – on a home console. it felt like my long wait for the "ultra 64" advertised in the arcade version was finally over and totally worth it, and i played the shit out of that game for months, leveling up all my cars and beating it on every difficulty. it's just classic fun and, imho, holds up better from a pure gameplay standpoint than almost any other racer of that era or prior.

    but of course the critics still just want every car racing game to be like gran turismo or else it sucks. d-:

  13. For my "stupid racing game" money, none beats Rush 2049. A game where your car has retractable wings? Hell yes.

    I remember my friends and I played that one summer from when we woke up until our parents came home from work. Everyday. For a whole week.

    It can be harder to find now, I don't think it was very popular. Still worth $10 bucks just for the stunt arena modes.

  14. I loved playing this game (Cruis'n World) as a kid! Didn't expect to a video of it, I have almost never seen discussion of the series online. Is i So that was a pleasant surprise. Is it true you have to earn 9999 points in order to go to the moon?

  15. I loved the Cruis'n games back in the N64 games, and I even picked up the Wii one, which is surprisingly fun, (though the graphics are terrible). Apparently the development team made an arcade game of the Fast & Furious franchise based on the Cruis'n engine, then later ported that game to the Wii, removed the F&F license and reverted it to a Cruis'n game. As a result it's complete with all the classic Cruis'n features (the exact same set of tricks from Cruis'n Exotica and the same presentation, right down to the flat sprites of humans at the start and finish lines, and the bikini girl with the trophy), along with some new Fast & Furious inspired 'street racing' stuff, such as nitrous boosting and vehicle modding. If you're a fan of the Cruis'n series on N64 and can live with (surprisingly good, very twitchy, high sensitivity) Wii style tilt controls, I'd highly recommend it! Just be aware of the low budget, it's very obvious.

  16. I just finished Exotica 100%, and it was I pretty fun experience. The game is way better than what I saw on reviews over the internet.

  17. am I the only person who misses FUN games? I mean racing on mars, dodging dinosaurs etc… it's amazing!

    The whole industry today takes itself waaaaaay too seriously.

  18. You should do a video on the Rush series. Especially Rush 2049 because that has to be my favorite 64 game of all time! I would love to get you take on it. Thanks!

  19. 3:20 Wow. He is really skilled at turning his car. He doesn't even need to use the steering wheel!

  20. You guys should consider covering Daytona USA! AM2 Sega games were quality, and Daytona really rocked the arcades with those stunning, smooth 3D graphics on that too-powerful-for-home-consoles Model 2 board.

  21. I spent so much money in the arcade on Cruis'n USA. I loved how holding down the view change button gave you secret vehicles such as the school bus.

  22. Thanks to late night laundromat runs for like 15+ years, the demo that the sit-in arcade machine of Cruisin' USA runs loudly on a loop is forever etched in my mind. The funny part of this story is when eventually found an N64 for my collection, Cruisin' USA was right there in the box with a few other games.

  23. I always liked the Cruis'n series. I just recently saw Cruis'n blast the newest game in the series at a arcade, the cabinet looks bad ass but I didn't have any money at the time to play it. Next time I'll give it a shot.

  24. If you think the Crusin' series was insanity in a cartridge, wait until you get a load of Beetle Adventure Racing! 😛 That being said, both series were very fun in my opinion and I wouldn't hesitate to play them again.

  25. The just bought the whole trilogy Box and box mint for all 3 😉
    Thanks for this video 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5KHywSdQB8

  26. Recently I was in a Arcade and played the newest game…Good but London though… I clipped out of bounds 2-3 times.

  27. You guys should do a video with Arcade to home console connectivity like they did with some n64 games and at least one gamecube game. If I remember right I think you could bring your memory card to the arcade and connect to Cruisn Usa, Nfl Blitz, one other game and then later Fzero AX. There might be others but it's hard finding much info on the subject.

  28. I beg to differ on definitive N64 racing experience imo those are
    -Diddy Kong Racing
    -Waverace 64
    -Mario Kart 64

  29. These games got very poor reviews back in the day. However, I played them years later and found them to be fun.

  30. That's a good lookback at the Cruis'n series. I used to rent these games any chance I got. Would love to play these games again. BUT DAMMIT TRY! EYES ON THE ROAD!

  31. Fun Fact: Toaster Strudels instantly remind me of playing Cruisin' USA. That was my favorite snack and I must have been playing a ton of N64, specifically Cruisin' USA. One of the most strongest smell to memory links I have, I think. lol

  32. Boxy cars with crap soapy textures. Big sprites do unrealistic surroundings. Design with bright colors. For kids – yes, but these titty girls… all is for fun. As 39 yo I see too many cons. But your vids are awesome.

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