Heracles Chariot Racing Wii Review

May 29, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Reviews

Imitation in gaming is not always a bad thing and some times, by learning from the mistakes of their inspirations, they can even be bettered. On the other hand, being brave enough to copy a well regarded game is asking for trouble, particularly if the results are undesirable.

Heracles Chariot Racing is obviously inspired by Mario Kart and is a cheaper WiiWare alternative, with characters from Greek mythology replacing Nintendo‘s famous cast. The Racing is enjoyable, casual fun, with powerups that make for races that are every bit as unpredictable as Nintendo‘s game. Even if you’ve got a decent lead towards the end of a race, you can still fall prey to a strategically used powerup and can end up finishing up at the back of the pack, which like Mario Kart can be infuriating beyond belief, though both games shouldn’t be considered as serious racers where every victory is won through hard earned skill alone.

Something that Heracles Chariot Racing is lacking in that Mario Kart has in spades is personality. Mario’s enthusiastic shouts and even Bullet Bill all do their part in adding something special to the ingredients that Heracles Chariot Racing quite simply lacks. It isn’t as if it’s a bland game, the graphical style has a certain level of cartoonish charm, but the characters just don’t manage to compete with the lovable fun of Mario and company.

The nine characters have their own strengths and weaknesses to take into consideration. For example, Heracles himself is unsurprisingly the most balanced of the bunch, not particularly excelling in any one area, but having no real shortcomings either, whilst the hulking Minotaur has good grip, but his chariot is heavy and a bit lacking when it comes to speed.

Another thing lacking that Mario Kart offers is customisation. There’s only one control scheme (perhaps due to its roots as a PS2 game) and it doesn’t involve holding the Wii Remote on its side, which means the Wii Wheel is out of the question, disappointing, as it’s surprising the sense of immersion that the bit of plastic granted to Mario Kart. The frequency of powerups can’t be changed or knocked off entirely, either.

Tracks are largely well designed, with plenty in the way of jumps and hazards to make for a madcap, enjoyable time. The tougher tracks can take some time to learn to navigate but are satisfying to do so. As well designed as they are, they sadly don’t manage to better or even equal the best that Mario Kart has to offer.

The single player championship mode is reasonably big, with three cups, each with six races. There’s also a time trial mode, which is just you against the clock and also a bit more skill reliant than the core racing, with no powerups threatening to leave you angry and nothing but your own inadequate skills to blame for a poor run. It’s the betterment of your time that is most likely to have you coming back in regards to the single player, as there’s little in the way of rewards elsewhere in what is primarily designed to be played as a multiplayer game.

Indeed, the primary focus is obviously the local four player multiplayer. Single races can be played and there’s a points based championship mode. There’s also a battle mode, which places you and your opponents in an arena and has you battling with powerups until only one is left standing, which isn‘t as good as the racing, but is still a decent mode to mix things up a bit. The multiplayer runs smoothly and has a generous amount of options for the asking price, though the omission of online multiplayer is likely to come as a disappointment for many.

The track design and lack of personality of Heracles Chariot Racing sees that it isn’t as strong a game as Mario Kart is. But the two points are in no way weak, they’re just weaker than Nintendo’s game and do little to get in the way of the casual enjoyment that the game has to offer. In short, it’s an enjoyable and cheaper Greek mythology themed alternative to Mario Kart that shouldn’t be ignored by fans of the genre.

7/10

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