If there's one genre the PSP does well, it’s the racing genre. No inherent control issues; no really bad graphical limitations; the system has the power to pull off a convincing sense of speed through decent enough environments. And it’s almost like the developers of Pocket Racers went out of their way to make sure their game suffered from all the problems mentioned above. This game is atrocious.
Since Codemasters has the lock on the Micro Machines license, Pocket Racers instead depends on an embarrassingly bad - as in, so embarrassingly bad it's actually fantastic - back-story to explain the situation. During a totally rockin' party, you and your friends are attacked by a dark stranger bent on stealing your souls. He does this by turning you all into tiny cars - yes, you read that correctly - which must then race each other through a series of mundane events if they ever hope to survive.
Wow. And you thought Katamari Damacy's plot setup was far-fetched.
OK, the story doesn’t really matter in a racing game - the racing does. And it’s just awful in Pocket Racers. What tries to come off as a poor-man’s Twisted Metal/Mario Kart/Burnout hybrid plays about as messy as it sounds. You’ll streak through various, ugly locales, attempting to pick up weapons and use them against your opponents - or for some strange reason, against your surroundings...
The control is awful and the collision is even worse, with the slightest knock usually sending your car careening every which way; often leaving you pointing your little headlights the opposite direction. And the difficulty curve is ratcheted way up right from the beginning. When the game is sub-standard to begin with, finding out you’ll have to run the first few races multiple times to get a single win is pretty much the nail in the coffin.
Online minigames and a decent selection of cars don’t save Pocket Racers from being one of the worst rubber-burners on Sony’s portable system. Which is too bad, actually, because we might have actually been able to get with the goofball story if it wasn't the only noteworthy element of the game.