Cruis’n Blast Review: Living Up to the Name

Cruis’n Blast is an absurd, bombastic, and fun trip through the Wayback Machine to the days of quarter-munching arcade racers.

There was a time, gentle readers, when the arcade racer was king. Virtua Racing, Daytona, Ridge Racer… bringing these high-profile coin-op racers home was one of the quintessential killer-app experiences for 90s console systems up through the early 2000s. Games like Cruis’n were short, quick, and (for the most part) thoroughly unrealistic racing games focused on flash and competition. 

With gorgeously bright and colorful graphics, a physics engine that bore almost no resemblance to anything in reality, and tracks that seemed obsessed with heaping on one insane situation after another, Cruis’n wasn’t deep or refined, but it sure was fun. Cruis’n Blast does not deviate from this classic template.

Cruis’n Blast Review: Living Up to the Name

If you've played a Cruis’n game before, that’s probably all the description you’ll need to make a purchasing choice here. Cruis’n Blast has so double-downed on the absurd nature of its forebearers that it reaches new levels of sheer, blinding, neon-coated chaos.

This is a racing game that asks the question of what if instead of worrying about anything close to a realistic driving simulation or sensible AI, we just literally smeared everything in glitter and added dinosaurs, aliens, and explosions to everything for no reason whatsoever except we might be 12-year-olds!

If this hook sounds like a great damn idea to you, we are aligned. Cruis’n Blast is a racing game that is not, strictly speaking, good at the actual driving part of this equation. AI cars race ahead in waves instantly at the start of a race merely to provide clumps of competition to pass and rampantly cheat. In multiplayer races, the game intentionally tries to force players together just to make sure they keep getting in each other’s way. 

At one point, during a three-player split-screen match, on a hunch, I literally just held down the gas and nothing else. Yet, the game still just plowed me forward through the track like a sporty glowing pinball that somehow never had any meaningful crashes or deterrents from reaching the finish line.

As if the developers randomly decided to include a spasm of Burnout, you can crash the AI cars but it doesn’t actually affect much, and you can’t blow up other human players. 

Two white unicorns, one with a blue tail and another pink, race against cars in split screen.

Some tracks just throw in cop chases as well. Why? Who knows. This is like the Michael Bay of racing games, where things just happen because someone thought it looked cool. Why is this city track suddenly filled with rampaging T-Rexes and stegosauruses? Who cares! Just roll with it!

Flying saucers and helicopter gunships fly by blowing up the environment all around you. Tankers pass by on the road purely to blow up just ahead of you. Each race is a sledgehammered choreography of destruction purely for destruction’s sake where none of it actually affects you. Every collapsing structure impacts just outside your reach. You can’t even miss the insane jumps the game throws out with regularity.

Generally, all this would be, you know, bad. Honestly, refined driving mechanics would have helped Cruis’n Blast a lot, but the fact remains there was never a point when playing the game (either alone or in its split-screen multiplayer) where it was anything other than insanely hilarious to play. 

There’s a weird cosmetic leveling system for each of the many potential vehicles, where you’ll earn experience points with each race up to level five. This gives you a series of superfluous and tacky visual upgrades. You can also freely change the color of your ride before a race or tournament and buy new nitros for the upcoming race with the gobs of money earned each race. 

A ton of unlockable vehicles are amassed as you progress, usually by collecting the three keys on each track. Here, things get even weirder. Sure, it’s cool to unlock an ATV or classic Corvette (all the cars are actually licensed!), but then suddenly you’re faced with the decision to use your keys to — and I’m not kidding — unlock an attack chopper, a hammerhead shark, and a frickin’ unicorn. 

You haven’t virtually lived until you’ve raced a gunship against a shark against a unicorn. It’s beautiful. Just beautiful.

Cruis’n Blast Review — The Bottom Line

Two sharks racing a red car on a bridge in the oxford circuit.

Pros

  • Unicorns! Sharks! Choppers! Buses! Oh My!
  • Gorgeous, insane, mindless racing
  • Great split-screen multiplayer
  • Tons to unlock

Cons

  • My eyes! The neon, the pink, the glitter, the chrome!
  • The driving mechanics are less about actual driving and more about making you question your life decisions
  • Only local play and only on Switch

Cruis’n Blast shoves players kicking and screaming to the time when the Dreamcast was king, racing was purely about things blowing up for no reason, and unicorns had great engine noises. And I love it for that.

[Note: Raw Thrills provided the copy of Cruis'n Blast used for this review.]

Our Rating
7
Cruis’n Blast is an absurd, bombastic, and fun trip through the Wayback Machine to the days of quarter-munching arcade racers.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Jason D'Aprile has been writing about games and technology for a very long time. His bylines have appeared on and in countless sites and magazines over the years, including Paste Magazine, Playboy, G4TV, Indie Game Website, UploadVR, Techhive, Lifewire, the Brick Moon Fiction podcast, United Front Gaming, and others he's mostly forgotten about. Jason lives in a house in the woods and does not twit.

Games Cruis'n Blast Genres Racing Platforms Nintendo Switch Tags racing games 
Published Oct. 12th 2021

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