Cruis'n Blast, read'n fast
Raw Thrills' arcade racing throwback delivers exactly what it says on the chassis
Who cares about realism? If driving games were realistic they'd just be me trundling up to Tescos on a Sunday morning for a disappointing coffee and overcooked eggs to weep over. And nobody wants to play that. I've pitched it repeatedly to no avail. May I take this opportunity, then, to fawn over Cruis'n Blast, the absolute epitome of a Secret Banger available right now on your (your!!) Nintendo Switch hybrid console. It's quite brilliant, you see; an adaptation of the honking great arcade machine with tons of new content - tracks, vehicles, secrets. It's got Eugene Jarvis in its DNA and comes along with all the insanity you'd expect from the guy responsible for NARC.
Look, how else can I describe it? You blast around at a million miles per hour, car doing flips through the jaws of a rampaging dinosaur, collecting difficult-to-reach tokens so you can unlock bigger, better cars and eventually zoo animals. Tracks collapse around you, hazards fly towards your face and you drift more than the Switch's very own Joy-Cons. Look, this one is a blinder with an absolute ton of content and that genuine, visceral old-school feel that we chase like the next hit of the purest mind-enhancing drugs. Except it's not drugs, it's a game. Feel free to pull that quote for use in your PR, Raw Thrills. This is a joyous experience entirely predicated around having fun, with a robust challenge that's high enough to feel satisfying when you clutch a victory but forgiving enough that you won't feel completely left in the dust. It even has that Super Off-Road/Rock 'N Roll Racing thing of collecting cash to upgrade your vehicles. Just absolutely ace.
It's two fingers up to sanity, with a pure adrenaline factor that brings the arcade home in a way I've never experienced so faithfully. This reads like PR; it's not. The game is absurdly, ridiculously good and the fact that it only costs twenty quid now is, frankly, a steal. There's just so much here to enjoy - the tracks are tightly designed rollercoasters laced with shortcuts, collectables, insane setpieces and tons of scope for improvement. The difficulty is pitched brilliantly with every race challenging and rewarding, while the upgrades and new vehicles you can access will give you a tangible edge until things really ramp up. A ramp, like what you would drive a big car over so it could do a jump. Yeah?
It sort of gives me a Jeff Minter vibe in how clearly little it cares about making any sense. That is to say, the gameplay is absolutely coherent, even traditional. Everything surrounding that is so off-the-chain crazy that you've just got to sit back and appreciate how unashamedly gamey it all is. How can I praise it more? Er, OK. I think even people who don't like driving games will like this. It is my favourite car-'em-up since Burnout 3: Takedown. It is better, in fact, than Burnout 3: Takedown. And you should play it immediately.