A look back: Cruis’n USA
Cruis’n USA was the third Nintendo 64 game I got and the first game purchased for us after that Christmas if I remember. It starts to get a little sketchy as to the exact order after this.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a fan of racing games of almost any form. Cruis’n USA might have been the ONLY racing game available which made the choice easy. It was always pretty hit or miss back then because this was before our internet days. Back then you either rented a game, played it at a friends house to see if you like it, or buy it because the box is cool. Perhaps a good thing though, because even though this game got TERRIBLE reviews I played the heck out of this game.
Dad always enjoyed playing racing games or sports games to a certian extent, and I remember this as one of the games that we’d sit down and play together from time to time. He wasn’t the cleanest racer! Though it was always satisfying when one of his careless attempts to block my pass resulted in him running head on into a school bus full of kids! Some evenings we’d sit and just play the Cruis’n mode and race from San Francisco to Washington DC and see who won.
I really played quite a bit of this game. You got newer faster cars for beating the game at a higher difficulty setting. Had it not been for that a lot of the replay value would have been lost. I remember getting all three versions of each of the four cars plus the three hidden ones: Jeep, Police car the only outward difference was the color, but the new ones were slightly faster. The police car and the bus were always great fun because you could tap “brake, brake, gas” and it would turn the flashing lights on. Ahh, it was the simple things! Ha ha.
I picked it up the other day and maybe I’ve been tainted by reading all the bad reviews, but the game sure doesn’t seem to have aged well. Maybe it’s because back in the day, I had all the courses memorized and the painfully short draw distance wasn’t an issue, because I knew what corners were coming up before the magically popped up on the screen! Courses like Chicago were still as tough as I remember though, weaving through the pillars in the tunnels and under the L-train. Thank goodness after a few races the old “pity factor”, as Mom always put it, kicks in. And for some reason the old photographic memory kicked in when I got to the records screen, and put my initals in as BOG. Why? I don’t know for sure, but that always the initials I used. This was before my KartMaster days, you know!
Indeed the game brought back some nostalgic memories, but unfortunately they were marred by blurry textures on the already blurry N64 and blocky car models, even by 1996 standards. After a few races the flaws begin to fade away though, and you can enjoy the game for what it always was, simple silly fun.