Original concept, yet the cars are revoltingly hard to control.

There’s no shortage of variety between racing concepts. We’ve driven monster trucks, rally cars, Formula 1 cars, motorbikes… hell, even tanks and turtles were up for grabs. Even with all this variety, Re-Volt finds yet one more unexplored venue of racing. Here you drive miniature remote-controlled cars around genuine life-sized levels in ways that conventional racers just can’t pull off.

You get an assortment of toy cars that differ in size, weight, speed and acceleration, which you must race through such curious locations as the toy shop, a cruise liner, suburban neighborhood, botanical garden or local supermarket. Every place has a distinctively cartoon-like vibe and they total some thirteen tracks in all. Several racing options are available, including your standard championship mode, time trial, stunt mode or just plain quick racing.

Spicing up gameplay are the odd power-ups scattered around everywhere, which, in true Mario Kart fashion, grant you one randomly nominated ability that you can activate at any time. These power-ups include the standard speed boost, homing missile (a firecracker in this case), oil slick or water balloons tossed haphazardly. Possibly the most interesting power-up is one that turns your car into a ticking time bomb, requiring that you bump into an opponent driver to ‘pass’ the bomb along before it explodes.

The game’s only real issue are the controls, which are far too sensitive regardless of what controller you use. Races unfold at breakneck speeds, making precise cornering obnoxious, and the twisty tracks don’t help much in this regard. The box claims that the driving physics attempt to replicate the feel of a real radio-controlled car, and this halfhearted attempt seems to have broken the gameplay somewhat. Still, we should be grateful the driving is as good as it is – the pre-release version had such sensitive controls that it made the game unplayable, but the final product isn’t off by much either.

1Fortunately, several included difficulty levels slow down the action considerably. You can tinker the overall opponent AI as well as the driving speed, and the additional support for joysticks, gamepads and steering wheels make Re-Volt’s clunky controls easier to grasp. One more minor issue is the lack of an automap, a simple oversight that can be partially overcome with the game’s built-in practice mode. Playing online is possible thanks to GameRanger and the added challenge definitely makes the game a bit more interesting. In the end it’s all a matter of getting past the awkwardly ultra-sensitive controls.

System Requirements: 200 Mhz CPU, 32 MB RAM, 25 MB Free Space, Win 95/98

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