Ben 10: Galactic Racing Preview
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 8th Oct 2011
In the world of video games journalism there exists an element that is particularly interested in the tracking of trends. That doesn't make them any less effective as writers, but it does often provoke interesting (if sometimes disagreeable) conversations over dinner that include the observation that whenever a video game series grows too popular, its owners license it out for all sorts of content, from cartoons to lunch boxes, stickers, and toys. That is true, but it is also true that when a cartoon reaches a certain level of popularity we get the opposite effect: it gets licensed and turned into a video game series, and such is the case with Ben 10.
When the cartoon first appeared upon the Cartoon Network in 2005, it found an immediate audience and following, largely because it has an interesting premise and the right formula. Naturally its growth in popularity and the pop-culture elements that come with that caused it to be turned into video games, and if that was all that there was to it, it would still be an interesting story -- but then we have the phenomenon known as Mario Kart Racing to consider.
What does that have to do with Ben 10? Well, nothing really... At least it shouldn't, but when we arrived at this year's E3 and finalized our lists of games to cover, my Intern pointed out that it sounded like Ben 10 meets Mario Kart, and that it might be an interesting game and asked if we should cover it?
If I may digress for a moment? Thank you... I am not one of those writers who believes that all Interns are good for is fetching tea and doing research. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are perfectly suited to those tasks, but any shop that allows its Staff Writers to limit the Interns to those chores is both not a good shop, and not a fitting place for an Intern. Contrary to popular belief Interns are observant, often intelligent, capable of writing pieces, and every now and then have good ideas and suggestions. This was one of them.
After more juggling than I was expecting, we had that game added to the list and, with the dread that is only felt when entering E3 on Day 1, we began to work. Which brings us to a final observation to make before we dig into game play.
While Ben 10 has nothing to do with Mario Kart racing, the same is not quite true when the two are swapped around, because despite it being based on its own IP, the style of play in this game is very much like Mario Kart. It is a go-kart style racing game with challenging tracks, interesting characters whose special abilities contribute to the racing experience, and it includes many of the elements that we have come to expect in this sort of game.
The critical success that the sub-genre found in the racing genre is nothing to scoff at -- in interviews members of the NASCAR tribe have admitted candidly that when their workday is over and they are on their RV or Bus traveling to the next race, it is just this sort of video game that they play for entertainment and relaxation! Now, if cartoon kart-racing is something that a real race car driver finds to be challenging and entertaining, well then there is probably something to it, right?