Game Reviews

Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion

Star onStar onStar offStar offStar off
Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion

Insects are always racing. Whether it's a fly racing against its short lifespan or a mosquito zipping away from a swatting hand, these are creature build for the chase. Unfortunately, Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion fails to emphasise this, instead making the life of a racing insect look like a tediously unexciting one.

The race is between a bee, mosquito, butterfly and ladybug, which you're invited to choose from at the beginning of each game. Every character is available right from the start and while this isn't a massive disappointment, it does seem as though the small opportunity to offer a reward or two has been missed.

Likewise, the four flower- and fauna-based racetracks are all available from the off, too. Seeing as there's no need to win any previous races before progressing to the next, the game simply finishes after each track, requiring you to start again and choose a different one from the menu. Again, this isn't a particularly irksome chore in itself, but neither does the game sustain any sensation of a bug-based championship.

Once you've selected your character and track, the 'race' begins. We emphasise the word race, since Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion quickly reveals itself as more of a garden stroll than a high-octane chase. Your thumb rapidly begins to ache as you push harder and harder on the accelerator symbol, hoping to coax some kind of hustle from the lethargic creatures. An altitude control on the right side of the touchscreen enables your bug to climb and descend, though why this isn't included in the accelerometer controls (which are used for turning) is another of the game's mysteries.

This slow pace doesn't appear to be due to processing difficulties, but a deliberate curtailing of the bug's flying speeds – a gameplay choice that'd be better suited to an adventure game than a racer. Leaves stick out from the sides, mushrooms provide hairpin obstacles, and tree roots create excellent stunt opportunities reminiscent of the speeder chase in Return of the Jedi. That makes the plodding pace all the more frustrating. Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion robs itself of the dynamism presented by these great looking tracks.

As beautiful and eye-wateringly detailed as the scenery is, the sedate pace of the racing means you've plenty of time to admire it, and you soon begin to notice a lot of repetition. The same segments of track crop up over and over – to the point at which you wonder if you chose the same track as last time. A few alternate routes generally reassure you that the four tracks are indeed different, though the mini-map gives more away in that respect than the actual landscape.

The most tragic aspect of Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion is that it could have been a great game, were it not for the cut-corners and unnecessarily sedate speed. It's a game built entirely of missed opportunities: slow and lumbering where it could be slick and thrilling, repetitious and unadventurous where it could be unique and dynamic. Reluctant as we are to squash this bug, it's just too slothful to get out from under our boot.

Mister Bumblebee Racing Champion

More of a slug than a bumblebee, this is one racer that doesn't get the checkered flag
Spanner Spencer
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.