The "Fast & Furious" movie franchise has become more and more successful as new films are released. The producers' strategy for achieving this with each sequel is clear: if it worked, make it bigger and better. In the videogame world, Raw Thrills has taken a very similar approach to its racing series of the same name. Fast & Furious SuperCars takes everything good from its predecessors and juices them up.
SuperCars is offered in a smaller, sleeker cabinet than earlier models. It has a 32'' LCD that sufficiently displays new HD graphics (a 42" model is also available). The slightly smaller cabinets allow more room for more machines, which is always important for sit-down racers. Plastered all over the cabinet are "Fast & Furious" logos, a license that was not carried over to the Raw Thrills' Super Bikes series. This allows instant name recognition with both its gaming predecessors and movie inspiration -- a great benefit when you consider the latest "Fast & Furious" movie released four months ago pulled in over $600 million worldwide and posted the largest April weekend opening of all time.
SuperCars gameplay has changed little compared to its precursors -- but that's not a bad thing. Much like the films, the videogame is about fast driving and crazy stunts. Players speed through one of 27 track scenes rendered by the game. A combination of new and re-mastered cities, from Chicago and Detroit to Tokyo and more, are the settings. Each city provides more than its fair share of shortcuts, stunts and insanely high jumps, keeping the unrealistic arcade characteristic, reminiscent of the classic Cruis'n viddies, which were designed by Raw Thrills' founder Eugene Jarvis when he was at Midway Games. Of course, it's always more fun to play with friends, and up to eight game units can be linked for multiplayer experiences.
Fast & Furious SuperCars is equipped with 10 all-new cars from popular brands throughout the world. Each car has levels of customization on which to build; the more a time a player logs behind the wheel, the more features he or she can add to a car.
After a racing session, players can save their game data and customized cars by creating or accessing their accounts using PINs, entered on the keypad. While PINs are widely used on racing games nowadays, SuperCars encourages the practice because the PIN account stores players' achievements and is the only way to unlock available updates for customized cars. Achievements provide more gratification for serious players who are looking for greater play depth than casual gamers.
During these difficult times for coin-op videogames, familiar is a good thing, and that could be converted into greater coin drop for amusement operators. Fast & Furious SuperCars might not feel like a full-fledged sequel, but its instantly recognizable name will catch a lot attention, and its new driving features will keep players in the game's seats.
EVAN KIRBY is a 22-year-old journalism student from Bridgewater, MA. A former editor of his high school newspaper, Kirby has been an avid coin-op game enthusiast for his entire life.