Drawing inspiration from the classic cartoons created by Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker Racing is a family friendly game with only a dash of cartoon violence. Kids, though, may experience some trouble with gameplay due to its surprisingly high degree of difficulty -- there are too many controls to be used simultaneously and only so many fingers to go around.
Mastering the game takes many hours of play to overcome the difficulty factor, but gamers who give up too soon will miss its redeeming qualities. Although excruciatingly hard, it's not impossible to win. An added attraction is that unlocking all three hidden characters ( Ms. Meany, Denver the hillbilly and Spacemouse) gives the game plenty of variety to keep the action lively.
Woody Woodpecker Racing is essentially a clone of other go-kart games such as Mario Kart and borrows elements of combat racing games like Road Rash (the side attack is a direct lift). The only original aspect is the focus on Woody Woodpecker and his pals. Players who don't want to take the time to master the quest mode should use the World Championship option to test out all the characters and cars available. The time trial mode is essentially a throwaway while single race mode offers a quick way to run races without the extra baggage of quests.
Serious gamers, though, need to keep plugging away at quest mode simply to unlock the hidden characters, which actually seem more balanced than the six default racers. If you simply can't wait, at least one cheat program is available on the Internet that will unlock the characters with no effort. It is disappointing that you can't use the unlocked characters in quest mode, but they do provide a good amount of fun in the World Championship.
Graphically, Woody Woodpecker Racing is as faithful to the classic animation as a polygon-based design can get, and that's not terribly good. The position boxes in the upper left corner of the game screen are spot-on, but the actual characters look like garbled boxes held together with low-grade adhesive. The environments are also polygon-based and breaks in the scenery are common. Crash your racer into the wall and you're likely to see the void that exists on the other side.
The sound is a collection of good samples from the cartoons but is very limited, filled with motor noise and other ambient sound. Because the sound is so repetitive, though, it's a non-factor during gameplay but Woody Woodpecker fans will enjoy the opening theme. Overall, Woody Woodpecker Racing is an unoriginal clone of most other kart games available for consoles and for the PC. If you don't have a kart game in your collection, it might be worth picking up, but if you do, skip it.
Graphics: Features the same, tired polygon-based scheme present in too many contemporary games.
Sound: The effects are good but limited and repetitive and therefore useless. Cartoon fans will enjoy the opening theme.
Enjoyment: Incredibly hard and a considerable time investment is required to master gameplay. Don't try to win right away because chances are very good that you won't.
Replay Value: Unlocking the hidden characters is a worthy challenge and worth replaying the game until it's met.
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Sega Rally 2 Championship, World Racing 2, Woody Woodpecker: Escape from Buzz Buzzard Park, WW2 Air Force Commander, Zoo Tycoon, WWII Tank Commander, Wings over Europe: Cold War Gone Hot, Xtreme Air Racing
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