There was a point in time in the gaming world when we weren’t concerned if a racing game had online connectivity or just how much it supported 4K in a 60 frames per second environment. Nope, we were concerned about winning. Granted, we still want Forza Horizon 5 like the rest of the Xbox crowd, but whatever happened to good ol’ arcade racing? Well, apparently Raw Thrills found it with a solid home port of Cruis’n Blast for the Nintendo Switch, fresh from its arcade release four years ago.
That’s right, Raw Thrills is doing home games now. That’s not to say we’ll see ports of Jurassic Park or Batman anytime soon – well, maybe – but this is a most excellent start. Cruis’n Blast drops at a time when we needed a thrilling arcade racer for the Switch, and despite a couple of shortcomings, it delivers where other games in the series have not. (Looking at you, beyond-disappointing Wii Cruis’n game. We’re still trying to figure out what the hell you are.)
Let’s Cruise Tonight!
The game is set up simply and effectively. You choose the way you want to race (a traditional racing mode, arcade mode, single races or even local multiplayer), choose from one of many “sporty” cars (or, hell, a unicorn on wheels once you unlock it), and then hit the track to get a first place victory, however you can. Along the way, you can run over boost pads, find shortcuts and even try to sideswipe the competition into oblivion.
The beauty of Cruis’n Blast lies in how the game plays. It handles smoothly when it comes to racing, and it also comes with an innovative drift system that provides both speed boosts and the ability to “wreck” other cars, a welcome addition to the formula. On top of that, you can perform a variety of stunts, making something as heavy as a Hummer flip around in the air as you fly off into a giant chasm filled with dinosaurs and/or yetis. It’s that wild. The game handles fine no matter what control method you use, even if there’s very little difference in actual steering. Whatever, it’s Cruis’n, not Gran Turismo Whatsit.
There’s a lot to unlock as well, including vehicles, decals and other great tracks. And the multiplayer is excellent, supporting up to four players in satisfying split-screen. Alas, no online stuff, and no ability to connect with the arcade game either. But you can’t have it all, and the local stuff is more than satisfying.
A Solid Showcase
As for the presentation, Raw Thrills delivers here as well. The visuals are stunning for an arcade racer. Even with somewhat shortened tracks, the game keeps up a consistent frame rate. It also delivers solid car models, fluid animations and even some great jumps that show tremendous height. Not since the likes of Pure have we jumped so high in a game. Good gravy.
The sound is good too, with roaring engines and lots of enjoyable rock tunes to choose from. That said, the theme music could use some retooling. It’s just some lady singing an enjoyable riff while mentioning “Cruis’n, let’s go cruis’n” about seventy times. At least you can switch it out in-race if it gets on your nerves.
Cruis’n Blast is a genuine surprise. Not your typical Cruis’n port, it packs all the wallop of the arcade game, including gameplay-wise, while also throwing in additional content to keep you entertained. And what it lacks in online multiplayer, it makes up for in great, howl-inducing local action. It’s a one-of-a-kind port that brings the arcade racer coming back – and opens the door for ports of H2Overdrive and Dirty Drivin’. What? A fan can dream.