Midnight Club GBA Review

The Midnight Club series launched with Playstation 2 back in 2001. Around the same time, a version for the Game Boy Advance surfaced under the radar, for obvious reasons. The initial version on the PS2 wasn't exactly a classic, but the portable rendition fails on nearly every level.
The premise sounds entertaining enough for a solid GBA racer. Players make their bid to join the Midnight Club, a group of underground racers battling it out every night for cash on city streets. Earning enough money allows you to buy more advanced cars and challenge the higher-ranked opponents. Presented in an inadequate overhead view, the developers obviously spent more time making the cars rotate in spectacular fashion than with the gameplay engine. Challenging either a "realistically rendered" New York or London, players constantly careen into unseen corners or walls. The guide arrow at the top of the screen doesn't tell you where to go, but sends players in the relative direction of their opponents. This admittedly allows the player to choose their own routes to beat their usually faster opponents, but without knowing where the finish line is, what's the point? Worse, when the game begins, players can choose from ONE car, a slow moving taxi. This is the only car you can take into any mode the game offers, whether it is a free ride or the career mode. Once entering into any of the gameplay modes, you'll then have to contend with slippery controls that make it impossible to straighten out your car. The lack of any backup methods mean you'll be writing down passwords after every race. The two cities are created using dull, flat colors, mostly to simulate the feeling of racing at nighttime. Instead, everything just looks archaic, lacking in any fine detail. The back of the game box states that you'll be terrorizing pedestrians, but you'll never see anyone walking the streets. The vehicles are the games only visual highlight, with working blinkers and well-presented mode-7 style rotation. The games engine can also handle quite a few cars on screen at once without any problem. The maddening soundtrack is only suppressed by well sampled voice taunts from other driver. It's bad enough that the game plays so poorly, but it's even more disappointing that it presents itself almost as bad. Fast-paced overhead racers are tough to get right. The controls and graphics engine needs to be tuned to perfection in order for the game to work. Here, they obviously failed miserably. Winning a race relies more on luck than any actual skill. The GBA offers far better racing experiences than this.

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