Setup & Timing
The opening credits are short. The download time is comparatively quick. Getting aroung theough the menu system is easy enough, but the menus regularly loaded like they were badly lagged and game the impression things were wrong when they weren't.
Menus & Navigation
The menus themselves, while laggy (see above), reacted well, were accessable via touch and button controls, are clearly labeled, and took you exactly where you expected them to.
Ease Of Use / Play Control
The basic game controls are easy to pick up: steer with the Direction Pad, "A" for the gas, "B" for brake/reverse, and "L" and "R" to drift. The problems arise in the design decisions and the physics. For example, the view is top down - straight down. The camera's not behind the car, and it doesn't rotate with the car, so if the car is moving "down" (toward the player), left is right and right is left... the perspective is always that of the driver behind the wheel, and not the player; there are no other options. This can make it very difficult - and frustrating - for many younger players. The physics engine also kills any last semblence of realism still remaining. The cars are invincible and can't be damaged. Almost every obstacle (besides guiding road cones) are also invincible. When the car hits one of these objects, it stops dead; not even a bounce. Finally, a player can get stuck in between obstacles and get no help, however if a player drives off course into something diabling (like water), they car is dropped dead center in the middle of the course facing the best possible direction. Other than that, the buttons worked fine.
Feature-wise, the game allowed for pretty much the same racing as the single-player experience. Visually, the overhead view took all realism that may have been there out of the equation; instead of a car racing game, it felt more like a toy car racing game. If it were marketed as such (front of the box at least), it wouldn't be a problem. Sound-wise, the menu music was headache-inducing and during the races, there was no music, just sound effects which didn't add to the experience. Feel free to mute this game and listen to music (or smack talk) while you play.
I've played a lot of racing games on the Nintendo DS system (I've already reviewed 15 others here) and a big part of the game is in how it's advertised. Based on the game's cover, the game is marketed as a driving game with cartoonish-but-semi-realistic cars with what looks like behind-the-car perspective (yes, that's a lot of dashes). What you get is a top-down game that looks like you're driving radio-controlled cars that can't break being driven in an environment where everything's made of cement. Oh, also... it has the word "Speed" in the title, but the game gives you no sense of speed... there's not even a miles per hour (or kilometers per hour) number - just a bar graph the moves up and down even when the cars appear to be maintaining speed. Overall, I'd have to say that Super Speed Machines is playable, but a bad game. The score would be a little higher if it were marketed better (and if the simplicity of the game and the game's control scheme matched up better for young players... maybe a touch-screen control scheme (an "easy mode perhaps) where the car follows the stylus. This game is well below Majesco's standards.
Fix the lag in menu loading.
Change the camera perspectives.
Make either the car or the obstacles not invincible, or at least add in some sort of "bouncing" when they collide.
Balance out the consequences/assistance between getting stuck in between obstacles and driving off road.
Put in some sense of speed.
Add in a control scheme for the stylus (an "easy mode" for kids) where the car follows the stylus, moving faster the further away it is.
Market the game differently (see above).
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 60 / 100 (a.k.a. 30/50)
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