Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/13/2022 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World are two of the most iconic arcade racers on the N64 (plus the mixed reception Cruis’n Exotica), and a lot of Nintendo fans have long awaited a return to the wacky racing that the Cruis’n games brought in the 90s. It took over 20 years (excluding the Game Boy Advance game; I’m just talking home console), but we finally have a new Cruis’n, and it’s glorious.
Cruis’n Blast may not be the prettiest game out there – it honestly looks like one of the better PS3 games for the most part – but it’s a TON of fun. It honestly doesn’t look bad, either; it’s just not quite as pretty as Mario Kart 8, for example. There are a few frame rate issues that I noticed here and there, but it never affected gameplay for me. Still, though, a racing game is where you want smooth gameplay at all times, so it’s worth mentioning. The biggest disappointment here is that, while the game does support local multiplayer, there is no support whatsoever for online multiplayer. There have been teases that an update to add online multiplayer may be in the works, but it’s still a bit odd and disappointing for a racing game released in late 2021 to exclude any online connectivity.
The main game modes here are, obviously, the classic arcade levels that you’ve played if you’ve had the fortune to play a Cruis’n Blast arcade machine (shoutout to Boxcar in Raleigh, North Carolina), time trials, and a handful of tours comprising four races each. Each of these tours has a theme; escaping the cops, extreme weather, etc. One disappointing thing is that you’ll see the arcade tracks repeated over and over again just with variations rather than two dozen distinct tracks. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a bit of a bummer.
As is usually the case for me, my favorite part of the game was the unlocks. There are 23 cars in the game, but only five are available at the start, leaving 23 to unlock. Some of these are unlocked by clearing a certain tour and buying with money earned, but others are unlocked via keys found hidden throughout the game (three per stage). In addition to unlocking the vehicles themselves, using them earns you xp for that vehicle, and leveling up your vehicle unlocks the ability to purchase neon accent lights, some aesthetic body modification, and an engine upgrade. All in all, there’s a lot to unlock which gives you ample reason to keep playing.
Cruis’n Blast isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a perfect “Nintendo” game if that makes sense. It’s just “fun” in the purest sense. On paper, it should be a solidly mediocre game, but between the comfortable control mechanics, the rather “out there” vehicle selection, and the general wackiness of the game, it’s just a goofy and extraordinarily enjoyable experience from start to finish. It may not be as refined a local multiplayer racer as Mario Kart, but Cruis’n Blast definitely deserves a place on any Switch owner’s shelf (or SD card) because for those times when you want to just relax and shoot the shit without committing homicide over a blue shell, Cruis’n Blast is the perfect choice.