When I go to arcades, I always have to give the racing games a play, especially if they have Cruis’n Blast or one of the other entries in the franchise. There’s something about sitting down behind the wheel of those cabinets that just feels magical. While I don’t get to go to many arcades anymore, developer Raw Thrills has seized the opportunity to port this latest entry over to Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, I feel in review that some of the Cruis’n Blast magic has been lost in the transition.
As a racing game, Cruis’n Blast doesn’t offer a lot of variety in its controls, but it doesn’t need to. Everything is pretty standard, from drifting to having single-use boosts. You can do a few tricks for style and end-of-race bonuses, but there’s nothing too flashy here. It all feels very responsive, which makes the game fun to play. All in all, there’s not really much to talk about here; you get what you would expect from a racing title.
The tracks in Cruis’n Blast are nothing to write home about. There are only a handful of different environments in which the tracks are located, and there isn’t much to differentiate the tracks in each one, especially since pieces of track are often found in two or three different courses. I can’t fault it too much here, as it’s really a game designed for arcades, where you’re likely only playing one or two tracks before moving on to a different game. But compared to other console releases, it really falls short for track variety, especially for longer play sessions.
The main game mode of Cruis’n Blast is Tour Mode, which has you race against others in sets of four tracks, with your overall placement depending on your rank in each leg of the tour. The early tours are pretty thematically simple, though the last few tend to be a bit wilder, even going so far as to have dinosaurs and UFOs create havoc as you speed along the raceways. At first, only a few Easy and Normal tours are unlocked, but as you conquer these challenges, more tours and difficulties will open up. I appreciate that you have a choice to replay a race to better your rank as many times as you want prior to advancing to the next one, so getting a good rank in each leg is very attainable without too much extra effort and wasted time.
In addition to the tour mode, there are single races and time trials to partake in as well. Single races in particular are good to mop up any remaining collectables or earn more experience with your vehicles to level them up. In these modes, you also have the option to race on five classic Cruis’n tracks, including London and Singapore. Given that these tracks are included in the game already, I can’t understand why there isn’t a “Classic Tour” of sorts. The lack of this mode feels like a major omission in a game that’s overall pretty solid.
Cruis’n Blast does a good job of creating a sense of progression via a series of unlockables and upgrades. Every race, you’ll gain some experience with the vehicle you drove, with higher ranks earning more experience. Get enough experience and you’ll level up the vehicle, unlocking the option to buy cosmetic upgrades for it. You’ll also earn cash depending on how many cash pickups you collect, how many tricks you perform, and your final placing, which is used to buy these upgrades and unlock new cars.
The biggest collectable though are keys. Each track has three hidden keys to find, which allow you to unlock some of the game’s weirder vehicles, including a hammerhead shark, a Triceratops, and a stealth helicopter. Each key only needs to be found once, and they might be located anywhere from right on the side of the track to flying under a hot air balloon. Once collected, each key is yours and is replaced in that track with a cash pickup in the future. If you only care about racing, there’s no penalty for ignoring these, but if you want to see all the game has to offer, they provide a fun reason to replay tracks.
What racing game would be complete without a multiplayer mode? Cruis’n Blast offers both splitscreen and what appears to be local wireless multiplayer options. Tour Mode, Classic Tracks, and Single Race are also available in multiplayer, but a new “First to Three” mode is also included here. I wasn’t able to play these with a friend, but I tested the splitscreen by myself with two controllers, the setup of which seemed fairly straightforward.
The CPU cars are notably included in this mode, so you can’t do a race just between players as far as I can tell. The one downside to multiplayer I found was that the race ends as soon as someone comes in first, so you’re stuck in whatever position you’re in when that happens. I don’t know why you don’t get to finish the race, but I quite dislike when games do that.
Overall, whether I’d recommend Cruis’n Blast on Nintendo Switch depends on how you’re going to play it. For short bursts, it’s a solid entry and you’ll likely have a lot of fun with it, though you may want to wait for a sale anyway. The controls work well, and there’s a lot of replayability when it comes to finding all the keys. But there’s a reason these games are meant for arcades and not for home release. There’s simply not enough track variety to play for an extended period without feeling like you’ve replayed the same courses over and over. The best parts of the game are using the wacky vehicles like a Triceratops to race, but even the novelty of that will likely wear off after a few races. If you’re looking for something bigger or more long-term, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Cruis’n Blast was provided by the publisher.