Game Side Chats: California Speed (N64)

Game Side Chats: California Speed (N64)

A little too much caffeine today and a little too much N64 last night has me here typing about a game no one cares about before a few meetings at work. Let me tell you about California Speed, the N64 game. I don’t doubt that California Speed doubles as the name of a batch of fentanyl laced heroine but honestly it’s just a racing game for Nintendo’s most overlooked console. Just kidding, the WiiU exists.

WHY CALIFORNIA SPEED?

I like listening to podcasts while I game and I typically use boring, long ass RPG’s for this purpose. “BUT THE SOUNDTRACK, TRAVIS?!” Yeah, well, after 10 hours of something I think I get it. I can listen to other things. Besides, the droning bops and bips of a video game’s soundtrack made 30 years ago has a tendency to wear thin. So anyway, I had a tough day at work and wanted something a little more mindless. What is more mindless than pressing A and dodging traffic in an old school arcade racer? I can’t think of anything.

YEAH, BUT WHY CALIFORNIA SPEED?

I had already played all the Cruisin’ Games, San Francisco Rush is hard, and I didn’t really take very long to pick a game.


 All anyone wanted to do in the 90’s was get out of California as fast as they could.

All anyone wanted to do in the 90’s was get out of California as fast as they could.

WAS IT FUN?

In doses, yeah. It’s easy. There is not a ton of traffic to contend with and you’ll easily get to 2nd or 3rd place early in your experience. Some tracks are harder than others. I will say, though, getting first is kinda tough. They really make you battle for it - but you should have no problem finishing near the top.

YEAH. BUT WAS IT FUN?

It was not un-fun. I had an okay time but again, I was distracted by a podcast about the Donner Party eating each other so it was more just background for me. I played it for a couple of hours. I’m not ashamed to admit that. You know, the Donner Party story is crazy? They fricking ate each other and had a series of bad decisions and bad luck leading up to the wipe out. It’s nuts.

 They don’t even look that delicious.

They don’t even look that delicious.

TRAVIS.

Yes?

REEL IT IN.

Right. Let me tell you a thing about the game that is neat… the tracks. Graphically, the game is okay. It looks good on a PVM-monitor but so does anything else. The tracks are fairly inventive though! They usually start out painfully ordinary, just a highway and some other cars but they all end up “off the rails”, so to speak. You’ll be hopping across air-craft carriers, racing into UFO’s, going up and down roller coasters, across the top of the Golden Gate, and even through a computer cable. No shit! It’s super interesting and unique the amount of things they were able to do with the tracks for the time. I was actually impressed by the imagination put into it.

A COMPUTER CABLE?

Yeah. Straight into a terminal and down a cable. Probably my favorite part of the game!

 To be fair, this is the quickest way to get across the bridge at rush hour.

To be fair, this is the quickest way to get across the bridge at rush hour.

WHAT ELSE?

Well, the final race of the California Cup is weird. You are a giant car racing across California and wiping out all the cities.

YOU’RE SHITTING ME.

Nope. The crappy thing is… the track is hard to figure out. There are no signs or boundaries so I lost track (punnnnnn) of where the track was a few times and got turned around. It’s just California topography. High on the neatness and WTF scale, low on the execution scale. Also, one of the vehicles you can choose is a golf cart. That’s fun, right?

SHOULD I PLAY THIS GAME?

If you have a good podcast about a family eating itself to death, definitely. If you like arcade-y racing games from the era and are fresh out of new ones to play or you just like experiencing random shit - yes. If you want an unbeatable experience - no.





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