CGR Undertow – LEGO RACERS review for Nintendo 64

You know, believe it or not…cartoons, wine,
women…they all have something in common with video games. The old ones are the most
fun. Well, not too old…there’s a point where age starts to have the reverse effect.
But there’s a sweet spot, you know? That’s what you’re looking for. And as long as
they’re in that sweet spot…man, I love going back to old games. And you know the best thing about reviewing
old games? It’s when you find one…that’s new. When you find one that, for some reason
or another, you just didn’t get to back in the day. It’s kind of like time travel.
Here I am, playing a Nintendo 64 game…for the very first time. What is this, 1997? Who’s the vice president? Jerry Lewis? It’s
LEGO Racers, for the Nintendo 64. And I’ll tell you what’s even cooler than
discovering a new old game. Discovering one that’s, like…actually good. Discovering
a good Nintendo 64 game, you didn’t even know about. How’s that possible? I don’t
know, but I know that it’s awesome. LEGO Racers is awesome. Sure, it’s just a Mario
Kart clone…but dude, who cares? It’s a solid Mart Kart clone. And not only that, it’s a solid Mario Kart
clone…on the Nintendo 64. A platform known for a couple of legendary games…but a very
short bench, so to speak. So to find a game like this, about 15 years later, on a platform
you know inside and out…that’s pretty awesome. LEGO Racers is pretty awesome. So aside from being a very good argument to
roll the dice at your used game shop once in a while…what is LEGO Racers? Well, like
I said, it’s Mario Kart. It’s a kart-racer with colorful race tracks, wacky characters
and lots of cool weapons. So it’s Mario Kart. But there’s also a couple things that
make LEGO Racers feel distinct, that provide its own take on the genre. So it’s both instantly familiar…and different
enough to be worth a spin. If there’s one area where LEGO Racers beats
Mario Kart 64…its content. Or at least, the amount of content. It’s got more tracks
than Mario Kart…and it’s got way more characters. In fact, it’s hard to say how
many characters it has, ‘cause you can make your own. And this is another area where the
game sets itself apart. You can build your own racers, your own vehicles…all from LEGO
blocks. And that was really cool for its time. Hell, it’s cool even now. I mean, all the
customization in today’s kart racers, whether it’s ModNation Racers or even recent Mario
Karts…in a way, you can trace it back to this. Unfortunately, that’s about where the game’s
LEGO-ness ends. I mean, it’s great to make characters and cars from LEGO blocks…but
it’d be great the environments had some LEGO, too. Instead, they’re actually…kind
of generic. Like, this could be any racing game, which is probably the biggest disappointment.
And it’s not like it’s pretty, you know? If the tracks were pretty, you could live
with the lack of LEGO. But when the game looks this average and non-distinct, it’s more
of an issue. Although, to be fair, the game runs pretty well, and those simple graphics
might have something to do with that. Still could use more LEGO, though. I mean, it is LEGO Racers. So it doesn’t have the visual polish of
Mario Kart…or the gameplay polish, it doesn’t control as well…and the track design’s
not as good, and the music’s not as memorable…but I mean, that’s not really a fair comparison.
These little LEGO arms are too short to box with Mario. But I think, behind Mario Kart
64, and Diddy Kong Racing…this is one of the coolest kart racers on the Nintendo 64.
If only for its customization, which was sort of ahead of its time. It doesn’t play nearly as well as those
games, and the AI can be frustrating as hell, and the multiplayer’s not as robust…but
I mean, you get to make your own LEGO, racing, people. Beat that, Mario. Huge thanks to our pal Tim from Zainesville,
Ohio, for sending in LEGO Racers…a solid Nintendo 64 game that proves…even the oldest
systems can still have some surprises.

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53 thoughts on “CGR Undertow – LEGO RACERS review for Nintendo 64

  1. Grew up playing the PC port of this… This version stands up to it pretty well considering the limitations of the N64 compared to PCs of the era.

  2. I had this game on my grandpparents' dinosaur of a computer, and whenever I go back, I love getting back into it- I never had a Nintendo console, so this was my first real item-kart racing game ever, and I still remember it.

  3. Another Good Review. 4:50 even describes the verdict in a nutshell, it's not as good as Mario Kart 64 or Diddy Kong Racing, but it crosses the finish line within the Top 3.

  4. Destruction Derby 64 was the last new-to-me N64 game I played. I never played it as a kid but when I played it for the first time a couple of months ago my jaw dropped and about 2 hours melted away. I played the PSX version but the N64 one just felt faster and, more fun.

  5. My childhood was spent playing this on PC, so much fun. I played it again about a year ago and it held up, a surprisingly fun game.

  6. I Remember playing this game 4 like hours back when i was a kid its a shame that there are no modern remakes of this game
    Great game (:  

  7. Which version is better, PS1 or N64? It's just that I've gotten too lazy to play games on my computer via CDrom nowadays. It also doesn't help that old windows games tend to have trouble running on newer PCs.

  8. I actually think that his game is more similar to Diddy Kong Racing than Mario Kart, like the power up-ing of items DURING the race.

  9. I think the track design of many of the courses in this game is great. The fact that certain shortcuts could be taken if you used a Red Brick power-up at the entrance was rewarding and satisfying, and was one of the points that made this game not feel like a Mario Kart clone. Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, I disagree—I think the art for the levels is not so generic as CGRundertow felt compelled to paint them as. Certainly, they're particularly wowing or original, but there are varied decent textures on those tracks, especially for the limitations on the PS1 and N64, and also considering you, the gamer, are going to speeding past everything in the game anyway, so 'how nice it all looks' is not exactly paramount.

  10. Discovering good, old games is probably the best thing about being a retro gamer. Ever since I've strated collecting rero games years ago, I've discovered more good old games than I can acttually play. Mostly Sega, because I was one of those Nintendo kids, but now I equally love the old Nintendo and Sega systems.

  11. Haven't been watching Undertow much over the last year or so… is it just Derek reviewing by himself with the occasional JRPG review by TJ?  Not that I mind though – Derek and TJ are the best anyway. I've always wished more people would watch CGRUndertow videos because they deserve to be much more popular than they are. CGR and Undertow must be just a skeleton crew these days… such a shame

  12. I love this game. I played this a lot on N64 back in the late 90s. Great little kart game, and as far as I know this may be the very first Lego game. Can u think of one that came out before this? The powerups are real cool, the best way to finish the harder tracks at the end are to use the warp power-up, the strongest green powerup. Great game, lotsa nostalgia for me with this one. I got it in my collection, I go back to it every now and then. The  3 great racing games I remember loving back then were Mariokart 64, this, and Star Wars Episode 1 racer. Which we just called Pod-racing.

  13. This is also the only Lego game I've actually played, and feel compelled to play. I'm sure theres other good Lego games, but to me, why play Lego Batman when I can play Arkham Asylum?

  14. This review is not very good. You did not go into any details, at all. You barely explained thing one about the game. So rather than expanding on exactly what makes it fun, worthwhile, or unique. It took you almost five minutes to basically say; "it's awesome cause it's old, and that makes it awesome. And I didn't know about it, and that's awesome." Literally, I am not paraphrasing. You then go on to say, that despite it being inferior in every way, "it's the best kart racer on the system behind Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing." Well, no shit. What the hell else was even on the console? Kart racers weren't that common back then. It's like these three and Crash Team Racing, which puts it firmly at fourth place, in a race with only four racers…

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