Let me start with something I’ve just found out! It turns out that Albuquerque is not just a song by Neil Young, oh no, it’s the largest city in New Mexico! Also the mystery of which is the way to Amarillo has also been one of my personal discoveries of late and I can finally tell Tony Christie where to shove off to after all these years, maybe with Peter Kay for company.
Prime fact chunks you’ve been unsure of all your life now answered, thanks to Gameshastra title Route 66, part of the minis series on the Playstation 3 and PSP.
Think Where’s Wally meets Finders Keepers and you’re nearly there with Route 66. You’ve got a picture and a setting, being any one of the 25 historic locations of the most famous highway in America and you’ve just got to find all the stuff some numpty has been leaving behind them on their travels: probably that Tony Christie guy. A litter picker you might essentially be, but this title aims to be more than a simple search and click game. It’s a journey as well, a historic travelling adventure… kind of…
Simply put, you play the disembodied hand of professional bike racer, ‘Mad’ Madeline Mayflower who has been on the racing circuit for 20 plus years and gained notoriety as one of the best racers in the world. However for you and me, we don’t join Madeline during her madcap racing adventures. Instead you join her as she takes some well deserved R’n’R and steps out of the limelight. This means for the player there is no adrenaline filled journey along the road itself. You simply join Madeline when she’s stopping off at several locations and needs help looking for a syringe.
So you’re not actually travelling along the historic route! That’s fine, after all the places seem marginally represented in a realistic and genuine fashion. Before each one of the 25 levels in R66 you are treated to a short history of how the place fits in to the history of The Route. This is all very nice and tries to capture some of the gravitas of just how historic and important this route is. However when you never see an inch of tarmac it’s hard to get pumped about how momentous the journey claims to be.
Firstly my advice is that, if you are considering purchase, buy it for the PSP, because the already poor resolution and quality of some of most of the images really are not made for a 37” LCD TV, the navigation around the screen being claustrophobic and clunky on Sony’s handheld, which is made worse for being displayed on a bigger screen.
R66 is essentially a fancy eye exam, testing your knowledge of “what stuff looks like” over one set difficulty level. The variety of stuff to find is one of the more charming aspects of the title. Some objects stick out like a sore thumb, whilst some are actually hidden within clever optical illusions. And anything could be hidden from your view; letters, birds, Chinese board games, a variety of weapons and many others, including the kitchen sink! The variety does provide R66 with a small degree of replay value, however when searching for one object you are just as likely to discover three more that might just be chosen for you to find on the next play through, so there’s not much to be surprised at. Though whether the game would care if you came back or not is another question, because even though this is a travel game in every sense of the word, constantly R66 feels like it has gone on its jolly little travels also.
A feeling of abandonment with R66 is commonplace, you may have 8 minutes at each destination to find the listed items, which is plenty as it’s often not a challenge, but if you get stuck and start running out of time, don’t rely on the game to tell you when it’s ticking down past ten seconds, because it won’t. When time runs out it just wakes from its sun bed to tell you to try again without any loss of points or penalisation at all. It begins to act at times like a drunk dad on holiday, shooing away a disruptive child.
R66 will penalise though for over-active clicking, so you can’t just click away hoping you find the object you’ve been looking for. But like an empty threat to “turn the car around and go home” there is no overall score to be collected from R66 and there are no leader boards to record your final score, so you could just click and click at all of the destinations and it will be of no consequence as there will never be a record of your poor score for you to feel ashamed of.
Overall you get the feeling that this game was abandoned after many of the aspects were first developed and what could have been a charming and delightful puzzle game for your long trip away, feels like it’s been stranded at the airport without a passport.
MLG Rating: 3/10
Platform: PS3/PSP Release Date: 12/01/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Route 66 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of four days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.