Retro Game Showcase: Speed Punks

Release Date: March 31 2000

Developer: Funcom Dublin Ltd.

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Available on: Sony Playstation

I’ve never seen a kart racer with a speedometer, actually.

What you should know about Speed Punks

  • Speed Punks was originally meant to come out in the US 2 weeks before Crash Team Racing, but Sony held off on the release to avoid the two titles clashing.
  • The game took 3 years to develop and was developed by the SD team at Funcom Dublin in Ireland.
  • The game is a kart racer, very similar in vein to Crash Team Racing
  • The FMV intro is set to the song “Travelling without Moving” by English band Jamiroquai.

The Good:

  • Sizable list of characters.
  • There are 9 playable characters in total, 4 unlockable in addition to the 5 initial playable characters. Each character has their own stats to cater to the player’s style, and they also have their own unique personalities.
  • The graphics are great. They still hold up rather well in this day and age.
  • The game’s presentation and aesthetic are pleasing to the eye. They serve well to make the initial first impression of the game very welcoming and enjoyable to look at. Characters interact with each other in game as well.
  • The driving physics are top notch. Karts feel surprisingly well weighted, control well and give you a decent sense of speed. The boost mechanic keeps the gameplay fast and intense.
  • Varying maps and locations. The maps are varied, and each track comes with a shortcuts that are not marked on the course.
  • Support for 4-player split screen. Very important in a kart racer and makes it a great party game.

The Bad:

  • High difficulty floor. The game is pretty difficult, even on easier difficulties, which could be off putting to casual gamers.
  • No proper plot or story that connects the characters. As far as things are concerned, they’re a bunch of kids who decided to get in their karts and race.
  • The karts themselves have no aesthetic difference. They’re just wheels with a steering wheel magically attached to the top.
Each character has their own personality and stats.

Verdict: Pretty damn fun

For a game meant to come out before Crash Team Racing, it feels like the game is strong enough to be a contender and stand on its own. The physics are different fundamentally yet enjoyable in its own right, while the aesthetic may seem off-putting to some, the colourful presentation makes it a treat to play around in. There are no notable faults, and it’s a damn good game. Shame it didn’t catch on much.

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