Speed Racer

Review: The Wachowski's do Mario Kart?

Speed Racer: The Film? Pretty good. A chimp does kung-fu. John Goodman throws a ninja out of a window.

And some hammy actor talks about pancakes in German. More importantly, the race scenes pack a vibrant visual punch - think F-Zero on a diet of e-numbers.

Speed Racer: The Videogame? No chimps. No ninjas. No pancakes. And a limp F-Zero clone to boot.

The problem lies with risk, or lack of. Speed Racer can be a real tarmac-shredding speedster - it makes 150cc Mario Kart look like Driving Miss Daisy - but where's the challenge if you're driving straight forwards with invisible barriers to keep you safe?

Where are the white-knuckle dodges and games of chicken that give F-Zero its allure?

Nice moves

The flimsy core betrays a bevy of neat ideas nabbed straight from the film.

Winning is largely dependant on shunting through your flamboyant rivals with remote-waggling attacks.

Performed in slow-mo with hefty PAFF!-like comic-book flashes, your catalogue of tail flips and power slams add a novel twist - but maintaining your shunt-enabled lead involves holding A for three minutes, dispelling any goodwill.

Similarly, an interesting rivals/allies system sees you pairing up with other racers.

Cleverly play the pack off against one another aaaand, yup, you're back in dullsville: pole position.

Sure, it's fast enough and the colour palette is interesting, to say the least (it's like racing along Willy Wonka's intestinal tract) but to see the idea fully realised there's only one place for you: the DVD rental shop when the film's out.

The verdict

Will fall straight through that F-Zero-shaped hole in your life, so any of the ideas that are 'not bad' are wasted anyway...

Nintendo Wii
Warner Interactive
Racing / Driving