June 21, 2011
Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney and Pixar's Cars: The Video Games
Editor's Note: In honor of Cars 2,
this week From Screen to Theme is dedicating all
articles, trivia, and pictures to Disney Cars! I hope
Despite the mixed critical reception the film received during its premiere, Disney Pixar's Cars was an amazing success. Big box office earnings were a sure thing, but the film would spawn off an incredibly powerful merchandise line that would rival even Pixar's own Toy Story. What started out as a movie inspired by director John Lasseter's personal road trip experiences became one of Disney's most profitable series. Along with the upcoming sequel, a series of Cars themed shorts, a planes inspired spin-off series, tons of toys and even a whole land dedicated to Cars in Disney's California Adventure were born out of the success of the film. Video games, of course, were not an exception.
In fear of being redundant, the first Cars game was one of the most solid experiences I've had when playing a licensed video game. The norm is that when a game is made to coincide with the release of a movie or TV show, the quality will be below expectations due to a rushed development cycle, turning the game into yet another product in a licensing deal. Cars: The Video Game, however, proved that this could be avoided when a license is placed on capable hands. While not a fully perfect game, the driving mechanics were solid, the missions were fun and, most importantly, it used the Cars license to the fullest, featuring a story that serves as a continuation of the movie and graphics that preserved the look and feel of the feature film.
As stated, the Cars franchise took off greatly after it premiered in 2006. This led to even more Cars video games, a rarity in the licensed game world. Here are the games that came out after the first title:
Systems: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, DS and PC
A direct sequel to the first game, the story behind Cars Mater-National is that Radiator Springs is hosting a major race featuring cars from all over the world. Of course, Lightning McQueen and friends return for one more race around the now no longer sleepy town. Gameplay remains largely the same, which is a good thing since the development team did a solid job with it the first time. Mater-National features new characters from around the globe, along with a new mode called
"Monster Mode," where players can turn their favorite characters into monster trucks and battle with each other. This mode features one of Mater-National's most endearing additions: You can play as Monster Truck Sully and Mike. The characters first began their life as an in-joke at the end of the movie where the characters would watch car versions of previous Pixar movies, including Toy Car Story and A Bug's Life.
Systems: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, PSP, DS and PC
Cars Race-O-Rama, the third game in the series, was actually inspired by the toy line released by Mattel. The story this time around is that Lightning McQueen is teaching young racers the basics of the racing world in order to prepare them for the Race-O-Rama competition. But his rival Chick Hicks, is doing the same, and worse, they have the nasty tendency to cheat. This introduces Race-O-Rama's new gameplay mechanic: Car customization. Lightning decides to customize himself in order to meet the qualification of the competition's various races. Players can go wild as they can customize Lightning McQueen. Everything from wheels to spoilers can be changed in order to meet the racer's needs. There are also new racing environments, including one named Santa Carburera.
Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales
In 2008, Disney and Pixar premiered Cars Toons, a series of shorts that took place in the Cars universe. The first series starred Mater as he told extremely tall tales where he was everything from a matador in Spain to a classic film noire detective. The liveliness of Mater's personality along with the vivid stories he told made for a solid video game. Mater's Tall Tales the video game took the shorts and turned them into mini-games where up to four players could participate. Players can fight the bulldozer as the Materdor, avoid peril as Mater the Greater and rescue other cars as Rescue Mater.
Oh yes, I forgot. If you read last week's Gamer Tuesday about E3, then you know that there will be a Cars 2 video game. I will talk about that next time. For now, enjoy these really solid and creative series of Cars games.
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