On Closed-Source Games: Car Quest

February 8, 2019

My brother owns a Nintendo Switch that I have been playing a good deal of lately. I am long since past my prime as a gamer, and I mostly concern myself with Free Software games anyway nowadays. This is both for idealogical reasons (I believe a free software game is, like any other program, inherently more moral than a closed-source alternative) as well as preference (all of my current favorite PC games are free software anyway). However, even I was not immune to the allure of Nintendo's most recent console, and I have been enjoying playing it.

One game in particular that I just happened to buy on sale to try it out is Car Quest. Car Quest is a 3D platformer game where you play as a little muscle car navigating a simplistic virtual world. I got the game because it was cheap ($2, down from its usual $10), and because it looked at least semi-amusing. I was actually very impressed with it, so much so that I decided I wanted to write about it here on my blog.

As I mentioned above, Car Quest is a 3D platformer, a genre that has been somewhat left by the wayside by the passage of time. I can recall playing 3D platformers extensively on PS1, PS2, and the N64, but in recent years this particular style of game has fallen out of fashion. Car Quest is nonetheless an excellent example of the 3D platformer. In particular, the game reminds me of the original Spyro the Dragon, though obviously with a very distinct control scheme. The collection-based progression, good sound design, and colorful visuals are all reminiscient of Spyro. This, I think, endeared Car Quest to me a lot.

However, it is not for nostalgia alone that I enjoyed this game. Car Quest has a lot to offer, and holds its own as a good platformer. The most obvious strong suit for the game is the sheer amount that the player has to do. The game has an unusual length (or, as modern reviewers are apt to put it, a lot of "content" [shudder]), which means that it can keep the engaged player occupied for a good deal of time. For the $2 I paid, I consider it a very good value, especially since the game is enjoyable throughout and rides hard on its main formula. If you enjoy the first 10 minutes, you will enjoy the next 10 hours, as that is about how long it takes to finish the game.

The game is also well polished, featuring fully voiced lines, a decent storyline, crisp visuals, and few glitches and/or bugs. It is certainly a minor title on the Switch, and I did not anticipate such a well-put-together game when I bought it (owing to the somewhat, shall I say, "phone-game"-y nature of many of Car Quest's contemporaries). It just goes to show that the Switch is doing the right thing in trying to be the "indie" game console of this generation. It was a winning strategy for the XBox 360, and games like Car Quest prove it continues to be so.

I am not just here to gush, however, and Car Quest is not without its faults. The most tiresome aspect of the game is the lack of a minimap, objective compass, or any indication of where you are supposed to go next. The only hint you get is a visual cue each time you make an advancement, which cannot be replayed. This left me wandering aimlessly trying to find my next objective several times, and became a hinderance especially as more of the world became available to explore. The other major complaint I have about the game concerns a late-game area you visit, which (so as not to spoil anything) I will call the "Island" level. The polish that I mentioned before as a strong suit is strangely lacking in this level, and it is loaded with glitches that can cause you to progress out of order and make it very difficult (potentially even impossible) to complete if you accidentally trigger them. Add to it the fact that it is the only area of the game that you can't exit to the main world and start over from, and it becomes a major issue. It is truly a shame, because when I first started the "Island" level, it was the most interesting one I had yet played. That the glitches occurred here was unfortunate.

All in all though, the issues I had with the game do not mar my enjoyment of it. I have a very positive opinion about Car Quest as a game, and I would reccommend it to others that have a Nintendo Switch. It was definitely worth what I paid for it, and I am of the opinion that it is worth its full price as well

And that does it for my first blog post regarding a closed-source game. Do not expect these types of posts very often. As I said, I am predominantly a player of free software games, and even when I do play closed-source games, it is usually a popular or well-known game. It seems rather pointless to write about, say, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on this site, since it is so heavily covered elsewhere. But if a game comes along that I get to play, enjoy greatly, and that seems to me to fly under the radar or warrant extra attention, I will probably cover it here. These review-style posts will almost always be limited to movies, however.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you get a chance to give Car Quest a try! So long!