The Cruis’n series is something of an arcade icon — it’s been offering up absurd, adrenaline-rush racing across arcades since the mid-90s. Now, the series zooms onto the Nintendo Switch in what’s a satisfying and solid arcade port.
Up until now your options for playing Cruis’n Blast (the sixth game in the series, first hitting arcades back in 2017) were rather limited. In fact, the only way to play this over-the-top racer was to either visit an arcade with the game available or splash out the best part of $10,000 on a machine of your own. I’m sure you’d agree both are fairly impractical options, considering not only the demise of the arcade, but also the pandemic, and well, not many folks having either the space or such a wedge of cash to fritter away on such an indulgence.
As such, it’s great to see this Switch port from Raw Thrills, opening the game up to a whole new audience at a $40 price point.
This Switch version has everything that you’d find in the arcade original, along with a handful of new extras, including additional races, various quality of life adaptations, and collectables to find in each race.
The core gameplay is fairly simple, with a straightforward control scheme that is super easy to get into and doesn’t ask much of you as a player. You press A to accelerate, L to use one of your limited boosts, R for drifting, and B is used to break — something you’ll pretty much never do. There are tilt controls on offer too if that’s your bag, and I was pleased to see an auto-accelerate option, ala Mario Kart 8 — a nice accessibility option for those that want or need it.
The main arcade campaign is made up of six cups (or tours if you will) and sees you visit a series of far-flung locales, including Rio, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Hollywood.
Each race will typically last a couple of minutes and sees you blast through one of these wacky courses, pulling off ridiculous aerial jumps, hitting crazy speeds, and pulling off a few tricks for good measure.
More often than not you won’t have any trouble placing in the top three — I found when playing in Easy or Normal, the challenge wasn’t so much the appeal, more the sheer thrill of just playing the courses and taking it all in. It’s a real visual spectacle with plenty to look at as you race past at 150 MPH.
On that point, there is pretty much no realism to the driving experience here. Forget Forza or DiRT, think more Excitetruck or Burnout. It’s an obvious point to make, but this is very much an arcade experience throughout. You don’t need to hit the perfect racing line, as Cruis’n Blast pretty much forces you in the right direction. As such there’s not much of a challenge in the base game, but I wouldn’t let that be seen as a real negative, as although the racing itself is fairly shallow, there’s plenty to enjoy in hitting all the boost points, grabbing the collectables, and just enjoying the almost rollercoaster-esque ride of each course.
Cruis’n Blast is hell for leather, full-on silly, and it's all the better for it.
There are just shy of 30 races to get through here, and all of them take place on just a handful of tracks. These tracks are mixed up with slightly different routes and a handful of different hazards — such as helicopters, the London Eye rolling down the road, descending UFOs, dinosaurs, and even a giant yeti (yes, really). Now, it would have been nice to have seen a few more tracks and locales added in, but I feel the variety on offer via the alternate paths and course dangers offer just enough to keep things compelling.
You’ll see through the main campaign in around two hours, but the extra difficulty modes and collectibles to pick up on every course add enough of an incentive to go back and revisit things.
For completionists, there’s also plenty of vehicles to unlock and customise, including a bunch of licensed cars, such as the Nissan GT-R and the GMC Hummer EV. However, there isn’t a great deal of difference in how they handle, so it comes down to being just more of a visual change. Some of the later vehicle unlocks are really fun, oddball options (which I won’t spoil) — you’ll no doubt want to try these out on the tarmac at least once.
When playing the harder difficulties it becomes important to maximise your drifting opportunities, ensuring you hit every boost pad possible — it’s fair to say there’s a decent challenge here for those seeking it out.
Sadly there’s no online play on offer, not even simple leaderboards, which is a shame, but you do get split-screen local multiplayer, and you can do local play if you know someone else with the game.
On the whole, this is a successful port, and one which runs superbly be that docked or handheld. I’ll add that it does have some notable, but by no means terrible load times. It looks the part too, evoking a strong, vibrant arcade aesthetic.
For all its wacky and rather enjoyable flourish, this is a rather concise game — so it’s worth keeping that in mind if you don’t want to come away from this one feeling fleeced. However, if this streamlined experience sounds appealing then there is lots to like in this overall snappy offering.
It’s a simple experience at its core, but one that’s done well. Cruis’n Blast feels really robust. It knows exactly what it wants to be, leans into it, and ultimately makes it work. It’s a successful slice of uncomplicated, yet thrilling arcade fun with plenty of spectacle.