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Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour
Score: 95%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing (Kart)/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
A franchise like Walt Disney coupled with the creative muscle of Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Disney Interactive really says everything you need to know about how good Magical Racing Tour looks. For the slower kids in the back, it looks incredible. Beyond the great detail on each track, you’ll be amazed at how well a virtual track mirrors its real-life counterpart. If you’re like me, and feel way too old (or too poor) to be traipsing down to Walt’s World very often, this Kart Racer may be the answer to your prayers.

As if the graphics weren’t enough, the licensing of Disney songs like “It’s a Small World,” “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and “Grim Grinning Ghost,” lends an authenticity to Walt Disney World Quest that might not have been there otherwise. Right on to Eidos and Disney Interactive for doin’ it right!

Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour is split almost halfway between an Adventure Mode and more typical driving objectives. Chip ‘n Dale always get a bad rap for things like this, but they somehow managed to blow up the WDW Fireworks Machine, and your mission is to gather up the lost pieces (one per track) to make sure the nightly fireworks show can go on. Adventure Mode, once complete, still leaves almost 50% of the game to be played, and much like Crash Bandicoot (the Platformer and the Kart Racer), you’ll have to uncover more than one secret to get all the way through to 100%.

The racing style is wacky but balanced, with good handling for the karts. With nine default characters and three secret, WDWQ: Magical Racing Tour manages to make everyone happy, although the characters are those from the theme park, not the Disney movies. Chip ‘n Dale and Jiminy Cricket being the three that crossed over. Don’t think for a minute that this is just kids’ stuff, because behind the Walt Disney World glitz and the cute characters is a rock-solid game. Each track is filled with plenty of obstacles, and power-up items can be grabbed to be used to your advantage against opponents. Some power-ups boost performance and speed, while some are wacky weapons like acorns and teacups. Coins (up to ten) give you a speed burst, while floating green fairies can influence how well your luck holds out against the competition. The competition is definitely fierce, but this makes for more fun as you jostle to get in line, struggling against three or four other racers, shouting and throwing acorns. Sounds like my high-school cafeteria, come to think of it...

Once Adventure Mode is complete, you have the chance to go back over each track to win a first place pennant, then go again to pick up hidden trophies, mostly in secret areas. The trophy race and the bonus tracks are just big Easter Egg hunts, but you’ll have plenty of time to learn the standard tracks as you strive for first place. The Two-Player Mode is nice, but can’t really hold its own against a Four-Player Racer like Crash Team Racing.

The main game is accessible to almost anyone on any talent level. By learning to use the power-ups, and just figuring the lay of the land, most people will see the credits roll after completing Adventure Mode. The 100% mark is a different matter altogether, and there’s more than enough replay value for even the craftiest racer once Adventure Mode is complete. The character choice doesn’t seem to make the racing easier or harder, but that’s the kiddy element anyway.

Game Mechanics:
Walt Disney World Quest has great controls, and both analog and Dual Shock support make the experience its best. The “hop” feature lets you skate through some tight curves or tricky terrain, and by holding down the button you use to hop, and timing it right, each racer will powerslide and get some turbo-boost. Once you master this, you’ll be a force to reckon with.

Menu controls are a little funky, and I realized just by experimenting that you can change characters midstream and not have to create a separate game. It would be nice to have made that feature a little clearer, but this is small stuff I’m griping about, right?

The racing displays are simple and tell everything you’ll need to know. Power-up items are used with the touch of a button, and don’t take a lot of craft to execute. One nice element in the game is that projectiles like the acorn and teacup can be directed forward or backward by changing the direction of your analog stick before you fire. Some power-ups, like the rocket, have to be guided, while the “frog” power-up (the strangest by far) turns all the other players into frogs. The amount of power-ups just sitting around betray the fact that WDWQ is targeting a younger crowd, and wants to make the most of these cute effects. But it’s sometimes frustrating (and amusing at the same time) to be knocked off the track, turned into a frog, run over as a frog, hit by an acorn, and then turned into a frog again. In the end, the sheer whimsy of it all makes the trip a fun one.

Magical Racing Tour is a wonderful game, with plenty of sparkle and pizzazz. The only thing keeping it from perfection is the lack of Four-Player Mode, but if this doesn’t phase you much, consider it an A+. Disney Interactive proves once again that it has the stuff to put quality titles out for PlayStation, and if you’ve never tried Kart Racing, Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour is a great place to start.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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