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Speed Punks/Freaks
In case you don't know, Speed Punks (Speed Freaks in Europe) is a Mario Kart-style racing game on the original PlayStation that came out in 1999-2000. It was developed by Norway-based FunCom (the guys who created Anarchy Online), particularly the Dublin, Ireland branch, and the SD Team. It took them two years to develop the game, during which it was known by its tentative names "Project SDR" and "Wheelnuts". Speed Punks is about of group of kids who go racing on their go-karts in no-holds-barred races in a variety of locations, from cities, raceways, and even on tropical islands! 

  • Gameplay

It's got a rather realistic physics system, and it takes little to get used to it. The controls are great, and you don't need to jump to get into a power slide like in Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing. Uses all the buttons on the controller, except for the select button. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Tempest, the one who leads the Speed Punks, is a heavyweight racer with low acceleration and bad collision recovery, but has high top speed. There are nine playable characters, three of which being unlockable. 


There are five basic gameplay modes; Tournament, which has these four-race leagues, one for each of the three difficulty levels, along with the option of creating your own custom-made league, using up to five tracks from the Easy, Medium and/or Hard Leagues. Single Race allows you to race in any of the tracks unlocked/available/etc. Time Trial is what you would expect it to be. VS. mode allows you to play against another player, and Multiplayer is self-explanatory (Speed Punks has Multi-Tap support).


What is a Mario Kart clone without any power-ups? Speed Punks has some pretty cool power-ups, especially this rare one that allows the user to inflate his/her opponents' tires until they go pop. 


Speaking of tracks, most of them, if not all of them, have shortcuts that you can use to your advantage. 


Another thing, you can't boost by power sliding, but there are Speed Boost Tokens on the tracks that you can collect to fill your speed boost guage. Hold down the R2 button to use the speed boost. 

  • Graphics
The graphical detail put into Speed Punks, especially with the track design, is some of the best I've ever seen on the PlayStation, rivaling that of Crash Team Racing. Everything is bright and colorful, even in the toughest levels.

  • Music
Speed Punks has some really cool music for a racing game, composed by Mr. Martin Schioler. Plus, "Travelling Without Moving" by Jamiroquai was used in the opening intro of the game. The credits music you hear when you beat the game and unlock everything gives a wonderful nostalgic feeling. 

  • Sound
The game's got some awesome sound effects, especially the four tones you hear when you finish a lap, and when you hear the sound of a powerful Shockwave power-up being fired...get to the side of the track! 

  • Bonus Features
As you beat the leagues in the Tournament mode, you unlock secret bonus content, ranging from Time Trial, VS., and Multiplayer modes with bonus tracks, to the race challenges of the three unlockable characters, and the option of activating special gold tires that increases the acceleration and top speed of whatever character used. Really neat stuff! Oh, and there's also the FMVs for the FunCom logo, the opening sequence, and the one you get when you unlock everything where the characters say good-bye to the player. Plus, there's also the staff roll screen with the SD Team's logo.

  • Characters
Speed Punks has a colorful cast of playable characters, and as mentioned before, has their own strengths and weaknesses on the track. They consist of a spoiled brat named Tabitha, a sexist tomboy named Monica, a mischievous dude named Tempest, a pair of bullies (who race on the same kart) named Buster & Wedgie, a boy genius with a large head called Brains, racing fanatic Monty Carlo (get it?), his pet dog Cosworth, a hot-blooded Japanese exchange student named Tetsuo, and BEEMER, a robotic driver built by Brains. To unlock Cosworth, Tetsuo, and BEEMER, you must get first place on all tracks in the Easy, Medium, and Hard leagues respectively, and beat each one of them in a three-lap duel. Be careful, BEEMER is a really tough one, and the most difficult character to unlock in the whole game! The Speed Punks all hang out at this treehouse, and they each have their own area. As a matter of fact, the character select screen takes place at the treehouse.

  • Flaws
Regular steering during gameplay is fairly sluggish, rather drifty, and feels as if you're driving on ice. You may have to use the power slide technique (use L1/R1 for power slide) relatively often, because some of the tracks have some pretty tight turns and corners. Plus, it's a bit tricky to dodge the homing missile power-up; you'd have to do a short and brief power slide at the right timing so that the missile would pass by you.

  • Version differences
The NTSC release of Speed Punks doesn't have this thing at the title screen where the characters say the game's name, and that is only seen in the original PAL version. Not only that, but the A.I. act differently between the two versions

  • Overall
Speed Punks is one of the most enjoyable kart racing games out there, and although it may not compare to more modern games, it's still an enjoyable challenge. I would give it 4.5/5.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58u1T3yNOWY Some gameplay footage on a PS1 emulator, and what's cool is that it's the original European version! 

[Image: AlexSingature1.png] Credit to EdBoy3 (thanks, dude!)
Check this out, CrystalFissure on YouTube posted gameplay footage of the early version of Speed Freaks on YouTube last week! Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK_XlvWdZYY

[Image: AlexSingature1.png] Credit to EdBoy3 (thanks, dude!)

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