Despite dubious origins, Cruis'n is more or less the same loose racer that rocked arcades and the Nintendo 64 in the mid-90s. Except that it's now 2007, and nobody apparently bothered to tell the folks at Midway and Just Games Interactive. To say Cruis'n looks like a higher-resolution N64 game at times is neither hyperbole nor as ironically entertaining as you might expect - and that says nothing for the wonky controls, inconsistent gameplay, and generally horrifying presentation.
As expected, Cruis'n is pure arcade cheese: 12 total tracks, 12 licensed vehicles, drab menu screens, and video clips of vaguely interested, half-naked women prior to every race. A simple upgrade system and the ability to perform wheelies and back flips embellish the racing experience a bit, but when we say 12 tracks, we mean it - once you finish in the top three in each race, the credits roll. And aside from serviceable two-player split-screen action, there's just nothing else to the game. We're talking about an hour and a half of unique gameplay, tops.
But the actual race experience is an unmitigated mess, the likes of which we have not seen in quite some time. Until you fully upgrade the traction of your vehicle, even a light nudge of the Wii Remote or d-pad may cause your car to oversteer into the nearest invisible barrier. However, the bulk of complaints come from glitches - seeing through walls, driving halfway through them, and floating on invisible mid-air platforms - and woefully inconsistent vehicle reactions. Your car can easily bash through massive concrete pillars and metal train platform supports, but lightly clipping an oncoming vehicle may force your car to perform several agonizing barrel rolls before landing. Where's the logic?
Cruis'n was pegged by the blogosphere before release as a visual abomination, and despite the appreciated widescreen support, the game lives up to its initial billing with chunky modeling, rough texture work, frequent pop-in of track pieces, and a fidgety frame rate. Generic techno and rock loops populate each short point-to-point race, but the main offender is the menu music: an homage to early 90s hip-hop flanked by deep, ominous chortling. We're already stuck playing this hot mess, and now the game is laughing at us? That's just cruel.