Games I Own: Lego Racers

Written by Joe Martin

July 8, 2010 // 11:19 a.m.

Tags: #games-i-own #games-joe-owns #lego #lego-racers #mario-kart #nostalgia #racing

I never had any of the classic consoles as a kid, only an old Amiga A500+ and occasional access to the BBC Microcomputer at school or the one in my Dad’s office. That means I missed out on some of the apparent classics, like Mario Kart, so I can’t really comment on how Lego Racers compares to what many hold up as the king of kart games. All I can say is that I really liked Lego Racers.

In terms of gameplay and features there’s not really much to say about the original Lego Racers other than that it was a kart racer. You had little racing cars made of Lego and you went through a series of levels, trying to place ahead of the boss of each league. In each race you could collect power-ups to turn the tide of the race – missile attacks, oil slicks, rocket boosters, the usual fare. Unlike the latter Lego Racers 2, the first game didn’t have a big open-world for you to explore between races, just the levels and a few hidden shortcuts.

In fact, the only remotely original feature it had was the most logical and obvious one possible, given the franchise – you could build your own cars from unlocked bits of Lego. Supposedly the design might change how your car handled, but if there was any evidence or indication of that then it was so minimal that I can’t honestly say I ever noticed. Instead, I just tried to make my car look as badass as possible.
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Games I Own: Lego Racers
You ever seen a Lego man catch scurvy?

The levels themselves were fun enough and pulled inspiration from some of the most popular Lego sets at the time – and the pirate levels were my favourite, obviously. In truth though, Lego Racers wasn’t a great game and, looking back, I can see there were several problems with it at the time. The cars handled too simply for starters, though it’s possible that was a deliberate choice based on age of the prospective players. All I know is that Lego missed a trick by not having cars spectacularly crashing into their component parts when hit by missile attacks.

There was a definite shortage of content too, with even my fourteen year-old self able to burst through it all in a single weekend. The levels were small and lacked much depth, with only the very last level presenting much of a challenge. In short, Lego Racers probably deserved the ‘mixed reaction’ that it was apparently met with, according to Wikipedia.

Still, Lego Racers enjoys a continued presence in my games collection despite these problems – mainly because I entertain some nostalgia for it and remember the halcyon days spent inside playing it in wonderful ignorance. It was summer outside and I lived in the country, so I should have been off making mischief instead of staying in to play a game I now recognise as mediocre at best…but, I stayed in.

Games I Own: Lego Racers
You're going down, Robin Hood!

I can remember clearly not truly enjoying Lego Racers in any meaningful sense, just playing it with a pleasurable serenity for hours and hours. I can remember getting frustrated at that last level against Rocket Racer, but other than that I was just playing the game and not even considering whether I liked it or not.

Nowadays, I like to think I have high standards (and am often accused of being unrealistic in my expectations) when it comes to games. Modern titles have to do something quite unusual and special to really impress me. I can still play and enjoy games that I know are definitely sub-par, but that knowledge nags at the back of my brain and bothers me to no end. It’s a far cry from my younger days when I could play a game for days without even asking myself whether it was good or if I was really enjoying it.

Number of Times Completed: Three or four, all in one summer holiday.

Random Trivia: The Lego Racers CD case for the PC version was notable in that the spine had Lego perforations on it, so you could incorporate it into Lego buildings.
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