Whirl Tour (PS2)

Whirl Tour (PS2)

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/4/2002 for PS2  
More On: Whirl Tour
I admit that I was pretty upset when Whirl Tour managed to show up on my desk. I had made my intentions to avoid having to review it as adamant as possible, surely someone would have heard me right? I mean, who wants to review a game starring a scooter-toting kid as he tries to reunite the lost members of his favorite band? As odd as this might sound, I’m pretty glad that my cries fell upon deaf ears because Whirl Tour is actually one of the more pleasant surprises that have come my way this year.

As mentioned above, the game revolves around the disappearance of the band ‘Flipside’. The lights flicker and they are sucked into the sky one by one. Of course the band’s roadie, Wasa B. (an obvious play on words) just happens to witness the whole thing. After watching the disappearances on video tape he does what any other band roadie would do, he grabs his scooter (yes I said scooter) and sets out to rescue them. How you may ask? By doing lots of tricks and doing random things like collecting CDs and fighting bosses. All right, so the idea behind the game might not win any awards but at least someone’s trying to spruce up the rapidly staling “xtreme” by injecting a storyline into it.

The levels are the highlight of the game and are quite excellent, especially for a first time effort. The levels take place in quite a wide variety including a theme park, a castle and a suburban neighborhood, each of them brining a new experience to the table. They look quite simple and bland at first, but play on for awhile and you’re bound to notice some amazing features and designs. Sometimes you’ll just be moving along and tricking off of everything in sight when all of a sudden you trick off the statue only to see it fall down and open up a whole new part of the level. Other times it’s something as simple as grinding a switch to open up a door. Furthermore, defeating the level’s two bosses will open up an entirely new area of the level for you to tear up. These are some huge levels filled with infinite trick lines that will no doubt keep you entertained for hours.

Some of the goals are rather irritating though and it is in this respect that the game tends to lag behind the competition. I’m not a big fan of the goals where you have to collect X number of objects, it just really seems to defeat the purpose of the game. Unfortunately these types of goals dominate the levels for the most part, damn you RARE! Damn you and your black hearts! This is quite sad as there are some fun goals such as one that requires you to grind through the loop of a rollercoaster track. Then sometimes you’ll find some absurd goals that will require you to destroy the hidden power transformer. Interesting additions but they tend to derail the game more than help it along.
If you’ve ever played Tony Hawk then you’ll no doubt feel at home with this puppy. You’ve got a jump button, the flip button, the grab button and the spin buttons. You’ll be able to link tricks by performing manuals in order to keep your current line going. Tricks are performed much in the same way in that spins act as multipliers to accommodate grabs and flips. As you perform tricks a meter fills up that when filled, will unlock special moves that will net you even more points. To spice things up a bit the adrenalin meter can be used as boost to speed your player up a bit. You’ll also have a health bar that depletes every time you bail or get hit by a boss. Collecting heart-shaped icons will help replenish your health. Runs are 3 minutes as opposed to the standard 2 minutes that we have become accustomed to. I found this to be quite refreshing as it allows you much more time to accomplish the more cumbersome tasks. Like most of the other games that make up the “xtreme” genre, I found that performing tricks and netting huge scores became quite simple after a little practice. Even though you’ll control a scooter as opposed to a skateboard, the gameplay remains virtually the same.

Whirl Tour is pretty competent in the visual departments. The characters look good and the levels are appealing as well. There are pedestrians that populate the levels and they took look quite nice. Animations are quite fluid and you’ll be able to discern the differences between the tricks as you delve deeper into the game. While the visuals won’t soon rival those of Tony Hawk’s in terms of quality, I feel that it is only a step or two behind. My eyes enjoyed these graphics much more than the muddled look of the Acclaim-designed titles.

I was pretty surprised to see that this game had a licensed soundtrack. Being that this game slid under the radar of the majority of the gaming population, I was expecting some poor production values. Thankfully I was wrong, the soundtrack is quite excellent, featuring bands like Midtown, The Skeletones and The Eyeliners. As an excellent bonus, you can collect CDs on each of the levels that will unlock songs for you to listen to. This is a neat feature that I have yet to see appear in other games of this type.

Where WT fails is in its goal structure. Some of the goals are far too obscure and require much more dumb luck than sheer skill to accomplish. Finding the scattered scooter icons (needed to unlock new scooters) and cd icons are pretty frustrating. I really wish that the levels would have started out with a nice fly-by so that I could at least have a general idea of where the items resided. Sometimes the control seems a bit funky too, the timing is a bit off and everything needs to be inputted a bit earlier than in other titles. In the end some of the levels and goals are a bit overwhelming and will prove to be far too difficult for some to accomplish.

Wow, who’d have ever thought that a game that focuses on a scooter toting roadie could be so good? This game literally came out of nowhere to become one of the best surprises, I hope that Crave will commission a sequel for this game because it’s only a few tweaks away from becoming a contender in the Xtreme games genre. Definitely worth your time, pick it up for a weekend rental, you won’t be disappointed.
A game in the mold of Tony Hawk that is actually a pleasant surprise. Sure the scooter is a bit of a turn off but its inclusion honestly doesn’t matter when you’re having this much fun.

Rating: 8.1 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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