Crazy Frog Racer 2 Review
Internet fads sometimes take on a life of their own. You may recall "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" popping up on "Family Guy," for example. However, sometimes, you have to know when to draw the line, especially when it comes to a fad that simply wouldn't make for a logical transition to the video game world. We're looking at you, Crazy Frog. The weird-lookin' amphibian gained a cult following with several music albums, which consist of nothing more than popular songs with a lot of electronic high-pitched "dings" and "baws" mixed in. Yeah, that's the "crazy frog," apparently. And someone decided this was enough to make for a successful video game; all they needed to do was whip up a tired old racing format and toss in a bunch of random characters and power pick-ups. There, you got a game. Well, no. No, you don't have a game, you have a silly, tedious, bare-bones, and just plain unentertaining virtual interaction experience, which isn't even worth the price of its budget admission. How they made two of these is...incomprehensible.
Crazy Frog Racer 2 looks exactly as you might expect: unrefined and so generic, it hurts your eyes to look at it. The only positive we can find is that there are plenty of environments, ranging from tracks set in an ice world to others set on the beach or in a volcano. But other than that, all we have are some mediocre characters, very last-generation environmental visuals (this game looks like a PS2 title from early 2001), and a few technical issues that hurt the overall presentation. We didn't really believe we'd see Heavenly Sword-quality graphics, but how hard is it to develop a game that looks just plain average? This isn't average; it's less than mediocre, and to top it all off, the way those courses are designed, you often find yourself wondering where the hell to go. The graphics don't help in any way, shape or form. Yeah, we do get some diversity, but it's hardly what we'd call a "saving grace," and just about anyone will be disappointed in the graphics on display, here.
The sound, on the other hand, should've been much better. After all, Crazy Frog got his start in music, right? For the most part, the sound is indeed much better than the graphics, but they should've included far more popular Crazy Frog covers, rather than opting to provide us with too many random - and apparently original - tracks. That was a bad idea, because it's abundantly clear that Mr. Frog can only slap his own inflection on existing songs; trying to create his own is a big mistake. Furthermore, the racing sound effects range from outrageously bland to almost non-existent, mainly because none of the racing machines have their own sound, and getting hit by a weapon sounds almost identical every time...regardless of the weapon. Some of the songs are quintessential Crazy Frog and thereby easily recognizable, but that's not enough to make this category passable. The effects fail miserably, which is one of the biggest reasons why it's difficult for the player to get involved in the racing action. No, the sound isn't as bad as the graphics, but they're certainly not very good.
As the title indicates, this is a racing game. Think Mario Kart fused with Wipeout, and that's basically what you end up with. But it's nowhere near as good as any installment in either of those excellent franchises, primarily because of three very distinct reasons: 1. it's boring, 2. it's technically lacking, and 3. there's virtually no depth whatsoever. Obviously, those are three pretty significant drawbacks, but we suppose they require some elaboration (as much as it pains us to do so). That first point is pretty self-explanatory; at no point do you ever feel the need to finish a Cup competition, nor do you really even care if you fall behind. The rewards are nil and the action, while appropriately fast, is seriously flawed so you'll likely grow irritated long before you feel entertained. There just isn't anything fun about this game, unless you count some of those semi-cool, super-high jumps placed on every track. But even those are plagued by a major developmental issue (which we'll get to shortly), so there isn't much to look forward to...ever.
In regards to the "technically lacking" part, the control is horribly loose and there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to the weapon design or implementation. Some make sense, like this electric trap that slows down opponents, but others are downright ridiculous, like three rocket-like bullets you can fire but can't possibly control. They just kinda head out and land wherever. It's also very difficult to ascertain when you actually pick up the weapons, because the icons sitting on the racetrack are extremely difficult to recognize. Each of the weapons in games like Wipeout held a legitimate purpose and played a role depending on the racetrack and situation. This isn't the case in Crazy Frog Racer 2, as you can generally just race around without firing a single weapon and still come in first. Well, you can provided you learn the track first, because you're racing blind quite literally more than half the time, which is another horrid aspect of the gameplay. Oh yeah, we mean what we say: the tracks are often so steep and loaded with sharp turns, you can rarely see more than a few feet in front of you.
As we mentioned before, the developers did place giant jumps on the racetracks, and while easily the best part of the game (and that's pretty sad), there's one glaring flaw: unless you have the appropriate momentum, you won't make the jump. So if you get nailed by a weapon or fall off the track right near the edge, you have no way of making the jump. The race is basically over. You just sit there, trying to get up enough speed to make it, but you'd literally have to turn around on the track and get another run at it. What the hell...? Furthermore, thanks to those atrocious visuals, you often can't tell if there are walls along the side of the track. Sometimes there are, sometimes there aren't. In other words, the racetracks jump back and forth between Ghost House and Rainbow Road (that's for you, Super Mario Kart fans), and the player often can't tell when there's a barrier to stop them from falling off. This can get very annoying, very fast. Most races consist of desperately attempting to figure out where to go next, wondering when you'll fall of the track, and questioning the use of just about every item you pick up. Tons of fun.
Just about the only good thing we can say about this game is its sense of speed. It's actually very fast, even though that can be counterproductive due to the zany structure of the tracks and bad control. It lets you launch your way off those seductive jumps, flying through the air and giving you a temporary sensation of enjoyment. However, that enjoyment is only temporary, because you won't feel the need to go very far. Of those aforementioned three major shortcomings, the third one is an almost complete lack of depth and options. All you can do is Single Race and Championship Cup, which plays out like any other racing tournament; you get points depending on where you finish in a set of races. The racer with the most points at the end of the set wins. Yeah, but didn't we have this 15 years ago during the 16-bit era? How is this acceptable, even for the PS2 generation? Answer- it's not. Oh, you can race against a friend if you want, but that person would have to be really starved for entertainment. And you should be reprimanded for subjecting him/her to this game, anyway.
In the end, Crazy Frog Racer 2 is a waste of time. Even as a budget title, it's not worth the money. There are plenty of halfway decent low-priced PS2 games out there, so don't let curiosity get the better of you, even if you are a fan of Crazy Frog. Just stick to the music albums.
10/22/2007 Ben Dutka