Cruis’n USA: Dodgy N64 Port Isn’t a Retro Gaming Dream

Cruis'n USA on the Nintendo 64
Zoom!

Here’s a rubbish Nintendo 64 game that we often think about. For some reason—probably the humourous critical panning it didn’t enjoy.

The History of Cruis’n USA

One of the reasons N64 Magazine was so popular in England was due to some of the scathing reviews it handed out.

24% is what the staff gave Cruis’n USA. With a description of it as “dump” in the February 1997 issue. So, it’s no surprise we avoided it.

The arcade version from Midway Games launched in 1994 and looks a bit better. By most media accounts, it was a decent enough game.

However, the Nintendo 64 version fared much worse. The port just didn’t go at all well, with Midway clearing struggling to maximise the console’s tech potential.

The result is it judders along with terrible pop-up. Never mind the cars on the roads, the game appears to be on the verge of crashing at every moment.

Along with Aero Gauge, this has turned into one of those obscure titles from the Nintendo 64 that few people ever discuss. Even in retro gaming circles.

Why? As they’re no good. There are so many retro gaming enthusiasts as a lot of old games are still joyous, magnificent, and wonderful.

Cruis’n USA isn’t one of those titles. In fact, there were a series of very odd racing games on the console around 1997.

This and MRC: Multi-Racing Championship were bizarre. The latter with its THREE tracks! Wow, don’t go overboard with the generosity.

Anyway, Cruis’n USA is an arcade style racing game. It’s a bit like Road Rash in how you avoid hazards and generally ram into stuff. Behold!

From what we can tell with the game’s reviews, the Nintendo 64 port was simply lacking in any sort of panache. Or fun.

With seven cars to pick from and 14 tracks available, it doesn’t seem like the worst deal in the world.

Some gamers even have strong nostalgic reverence for the arcade and Nintendo 64 versions. Being a kid really does make you a philistine, see?

But that kind of extends to the developers. Programmer Eugene Jarvis was annoyed after  Nintendo demanded the removal of certain graphic scenes from the final product.

Principally, where you can run over animals with wild abandon. Jarvis said he couldn’t work out what was wrong with them and that they had no sense of humour. Classy stuff.

Considering this was one of the first Nintendo 64 games (launching in North America, as it did, in December 1996), you’d think the console was set for a dismal future.

Thankfully, some developers did a little bit better. But not all of them.

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