I’m extremely familiar with crashy laps. After all, I played Project Gotham Racing back in the day and I play Forza Motorsport now. Crashy laps goes with the territory, especially across the multiplayer scene. But I don’t think I’ve ever played anything quite like Crashy Laps from JanduSoft and CheapeeSoft Games. It really is quite unique. And not necessarily in a good way.
Crashy Laps is a top-down or isometric (you decide, switching it up in the menu) racer. A game that screams old school, it’s a genre that I was massively into way back when. In fact, I grew up on the likes of Super Off Road, on Supercars 2 and more. It means I’m always drawn to a game of more modern times that looks to own the genre. That’s the case for Crashy Laps – but it’s far from a decent example.
For fear of ruining the review before we really get started, Crashy Laps is not a good game. It feels poorly put together, fails to wow visually, runs terrible audio and, most importantly, does nothing in terms of top-down racing. Oh, and not only does it crash on a fairly regular basis but at times we’ve been found racing with cars that have been stripped of all colour. When everyone is in the same monochrome livery, things are extremely tricky to navigate.
It’s bad from the off. A tired menu system requests you to decide whether to race in the morning, at midday, through the evening or in the dark of the night. Frankly, we don’t really care too much – just let us race.
From there, race modes open up. There’s the Time Trial, a Quick Race, Grand Prix (basically the same as Quick Race but with a single qualifying lap) and a Championship mode which lets you race across four circuits, each running four laps in length as points are scored and trophies are lifted.
Each of these are playable across four different landscapes and scenarios. You’ve got the Candy Land which is, well, made out of candy, mud switched out for chocolate. Seen as the beginner world, it comes complete with some of the easiest race tracks you’ll ever see; loops, few chicanes etc… It’s only in Candy Land’s final race in which things get trickier with a track that comes with jumps. The problem is, the visuals are so poor that you can’t see the jumps or changes in elevation; the first time you race around here you’ll be left flummoxed as to what the hell is going on as you go careening off into a barrier.
From there we move to the Alpine World complete with bridges and tunnels, and then onto the Silver Dunes. In theory, this sounds like a cracking place to have a race, but in actuality, the bumps and uneven roads just annoy. Rounding off the course roster is that of the slippery, the twisty, Frosty Way. Want to have a guess how it goes driving on ice?
Wherever you race, Crashy Laps events consist of four cars attempting to get from lights out to chequered flag as fast as possible. Cars are twitchy little buggers and so you’ll need to constantly keep going on and off the throttle and brake as you tease your way through the thin ribbon of track. And for the most part, that track is barely wide enough to cater for more than one car. Going side-on with an opponent invariably sees contact made, resulting in a crash and spin, or locking together as you both go on your merry way.
Attempting to make clean overtakes is nigh impossible but then, hey, Crashy Laps, innit. What should we expect?
Rarely does it ever feel fun though. With laps over in a blink of the eye, sometimes dusted in less than ten seconds, should you find yourself smashed into a barrier it’s pretty much race over, all as you wait for the game to reset you. Unfortunately, whilst fairly swift, that doesn’t always go to plan either, dropping respawning cars on top of each other at regular opportunities. Seeing as your little race cars come with no reverse gear, once you’ve hit a barrier you’re left in the hands of the JanduSoft and CheapeeSoft gods as to how your race will unfold.
For the bad, and don’t get me wrong, Crashy Laps is likely to be deleted from the hard drive the second this review is published, there is some good. For instance, before you can go participating in Championship races, you MUST complete several consecutive laps in Time Trial. Again that may seem annoying at first, and we wondered why the lockdown was in place, but it does allow you the chance to try and get a feel for each circuit before heading into the main event. It took a while, but we eventually understood the reasoning for placing those limits.
The same goes for locking latter races down to certain early race accomplishments. For instance, to race in the final Around the World event, taking in the ‘best’ Crashy Laps has to offer, you’ll need to have achieved some medallage in the Pro and Expert ranks in all the Championships before it. With the short nature of each race, it’s easier enough to spend a few minutes honing your racing skills. There’s a bit of a carrot to give it one more go.
But don’t get me wrong, whether you’ll want to continue on through this top-down racer will be up for debate. We certainly can’t see it being one to stick on rotation as a group of local mates get together for an evening session of gaming.
Oh yeah, and to make the whole Crashy Laps experience worse, never should you think for a minute that you’ll be able to sit in the menus and consider your options. You see, hold tight, deciding upon your next course of action and a huge JanduSoft credits screen will pop up, followed by a ‘demo’ race complete with four AI racers. It’s appeared three times as we’ve written this single paragraph. If there’s ever a way of JanduSoft ensuring you won’t want to play their other games, this is it. And that would be a shame for a few of their games are well worth playing; FINIS, for example, is a very unique experience.
So, Crashy Laps very much does what it says on the tin, chucking you into an old school racer that is intent on crashing. Poor visuals, terrible audio and a ‘feel’ that is nothing short of unique fail to help this racer speed away from the grid, let alone be able to compete for podiums.