Publisher: Zoo Games
Developer: Blue Heat Games
Release Date: January 9, 2009
When I was a kid, I remember Bigfoot being a pretty big deal, and there was certainly enough TV coverage of the legendary monster truck to get my young mind thinking that giant trucks crushing stationary, broken-down cars was pretty darn cool. I never made it out to a monster truck rally, but I certainly caught my fair share of them on TV, and they hardly disappointed. Bigfoot was pretty much the most recognizable truck at that time, but considering that the 1980s are long past, I was surprised to see a licensed DS game pop up earlier this year, Bigfoot: Collision Course.
The idea behind Bigfoot: Collision Course is actually solid, and I think that in the right hands, treating monster trucks like a kart-style racer wouldn't be that bad. That's pretty much what this title is going for, with tracks that aren't based on real world locations, but are stylized versions of random elements or generic locations. Levels set in the snow, mountains, forests, etc., are littered with various destructive items for Bigfoot and the other monster trucks to destroy and smash through. The only thing missing here is the use of randomly placed items. There's even a boost to propel your giant wheeled two-ton truck to victory across the finish line.
However, while the game uses a few fanciful items to populate the screen, it also tries way too hard to stay realistic, which kind of belittles the fun concept. Obviously we know that monster trucks aren't meant for racing because they're big, slow and certainly destructive, but they aren't really good material for a standard racetrack. Bigfoot: Collision Course drives this home, since the on-screen speed display rarely tops 40mph, and while the game doesn't feel particularly slow, just knowing that you're not even close to highway speeds on these tracks takes away from the fun factor. Since the game is all about racing and not so much about events like a monster truck rally, it takes away from the overall fun you might otherwise have with it.
Really, that's my big problem with Bigfoot: Collision Course. It has other issues that I'll go into a bit more in the latter half of this review, but the idea of turning these vehicle beasts into a racer doesn't make a great deal of sense. I love arcade-style racers, and I'm not opposed to seeing Bigfoot used in one, but I feel that they could have used the Bigfoot license for something that would be a better fit for trucks, such as event-based mini-games, crazy jumps, and so on. Instead, you get a lot of crates tossed in the middle of the road, exploding barrels, and other small obstacles to drive over, including pre-crushed cars. It's certainly not the best fit for Bigfoot, and it really feels like a cheap attempt at cashing in on an established license without putting much thought into where the license would fit best.
As far as the actual gameplay goes, Bigfoot is really a pretty simple racer, and it doesn't make use of real physics, and you never get a great sense of the amount of destruction that one of these machines can cause. When you start off in the story mode, you select from a handful of monster trucks that have a few defining differences between them, like speed or control. Once that's done, you select your track, and you're off for a three-lap race against a few computer-controlled trucks. The difficulty level is never real high, and while there is a Pro group of tracks that gets a little harder, once you get ahead of the other racers, it's really easy to maintain the lead by a large margin. You don't have to worry about wrecking, either; I flipped my vehicle once, and while the game resets you to an upright position, I never lost my place and my opponents didn't exploit my mistake to their advantage. As I've said, I really like arcade racers, but this title wavers between being realistic and arcade-y. Without that challenge or a sense of threat from the cars behind you, even the short tracks end up being boring, and it's difficult to find the drive to finish all of the tracks.
The other main aspect of the racing, which is the speed boost, is represented in the most mundane way. When the game begins, you'll notice boxes that litter the track, and running over or through them will give you a small boost to your meter at the bottom of the screen. Later tracks will provide other obstacles, like exploding barrels or destructible walls, all providing the same effect as these crates. When the meter is full, you can release the speed boost that lasts for a few seconds, but it doesn't really give you a sense of speed other than a quickening of everything around you, sort of like pressing a virtual fast-forward button. The effect isn't particularly noticeable, and isn't necessary considering the already low level of challenge. It's annoying that you can't use whatever is available in the meter whenever you want; you have to wait for it to be completely filled before using it, so if there's a jump coming up, you can't use the boost for that and then reserve the rest.
Basically, Bigfoot: Collision Course for the DS is a pretty lackluster attempt at using the Bigfoot license in a racing environment, and while I don't think it's a horrible idea, it doesn't fit the monster truck theme very well. Given a bigger budget or a more talented development team, perhaps something interesting could have came from this, but as it is, Bigfoot: Collision Course is a pretty lame excuse for an arcade kart-racing experience. If you're even a remote fan of the Bigfoot truck, don't buy into this simply because of the name association. It contains none of the thrills involved in an actual monster truck event, and I can't even recommend the game to casual racing fans. Avoid this one.