Adventure of a lifetime races on the scene
Smooth with no chaser. Beetle Adventure Racing is like a fine cognac: No filler, no BS. It’s just a fine racing game featuring the popular-in-1999 redesigned Volkswagen New Beetle. Like that cognac, it’s what you want in an experience, but you wish there was more at the end of the glass.
Beetle Adventure Racing, while short on story, is a racing dream. There isn’t much to the story other than you’re racing against other Beetle drivers on six varied tracks. There are several modes including a time trial, championship and two-player duel, but that’s about it. You’re also racing with only Beetles, though they vary in color with different stats. There are two unlockable Beetles, but that’s pretty much all there is in terms of rewards. The depth really lies in the tracks and their nooks and crannies. There are a ton of secrets and shortcuts that help in the point-gathering modes or to shave time in the time trials, and that sort of makes up for the lack of everything else. Sort of.
While the rewards are sparse, the presentation is not. Beetle Adventure Racing looks and plays wonderfully. The environments look great for a Nintendo 64 game and really make the game pop overall. And it also plays well. The racing is smooth and lithe, making for a satisfying experience when taking curves or finally landing a shortcut path.
Of special note is the soundtrack. It’s only six tracks plus a few other menu tunes, but this is a fantastic soundtrack. The tracks work well with the racing locales, and almost all of them are bangers. Our longtime favorite is Mount Mayhem, the snow lodge mountain track. We’ve been bumping that as long as the game has been out in various formats, and 24 years later we continue to do so. It’s that good and comes with high praise.
Our only caveat with Beetle Adventure Racing is that the difficulty level is slightly out of balance. It could use some tweaking so that you see the later racing tracks a little more often. Given that it’s hard to find some of the point boxes on the tracks and you need them in order to earn continues, it should be easier to obtain for the latter portions of the game.
Aside from the punishing difficulty, the game is practically perfect. There isn’t much to feast on, but when you can feast it’s among if not the best racing game on the N64. It’s a heck of an adventure whether you’re a Beetle enthusiast or not. V dub or bust.