Pocket Racers

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What do you get when you combine a demon with partygoers? Why…a racing game where everyone is trying to save their immortal souls, that’s what! Are you already confused? Well, don’t feel bad, because really, it’s about the lames storyline ever to hit a game, and it’s tacked onto one of the lamest racing games to come about in a long time. The game is Pocket Racers for PSP, and while it attempts to allow all its sins to be forgiven by being dubbed a “budget title,” it’s just a weak premise and weak game all around.

A story may not be integral to a racing game, heck, they don’t need to exist at all, but Konami felt like tacking one onto Pocket Racers, and it’s definitely a doozy. The story is that you and some teen-beat reading friends are trip-hopping out at a friend’s party, when a demon (wait for it…) steps in and turns you into matchbox sized race cars. From then on, it’s a race for your life, as you attempt to collect Soul Shards, those little gems that represent the souls of your partygoing friends.

You could forgive the story if the racing wasn’t so god awful. It’s basically a poor copy of the Micro Machines games, which themselves haven’t been very good over the past few years. Cars handle like wooden blocks, and they bounce off one another with stunning force, throwing you all around the track and making it impossible to win a race or make a clean jump. You find yourself all too often looking to find the straightest path through the track, forget enjoying jumps and drifting curves. This makes it nigh impossible to finish a track in one try.

Graphics and audio are equally poor quality, making this game’s production values seem like a budget version of a budget production. Cars are blocky, as are the environments, and the soundtrack is so lame, it’s pretty much forgettable.

Pocket Racers tries to be honest about its budget status right out of the gate, but even stamping “budget” on a game can’t make horrible gameplay forgivable. There are really no redeeming aspects about Pocket Racers, except maybe that it runs and is stable. If you’re thinking “maybe kids will like a simplistic game like this,” be warned – the two I had playtest it with me (a teen and pre-teen respectively) both hated it. Pass on this one.

Overall: 2.0
It loads and plays, that’s about all it has going for it

— Craig Falstaff