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Top 5 Strange Racing Games

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Whether that’s down to its setting, characters, presentation, or a gameplay element totally out of left field, some racing games are just…strange. We’re celebrating – well, “celebrating” – 10 of those today. Some of these games’ oddities work extremely well and have made them quite popular. As for the others…let’s just say that if they were cars, then they’d be extremely lucky to pass their MOTs. So here is my list of strangest racing video games.

‘96 Flag Rally

There’s very little information available on this game unless you happen to speak Korean. You don’t happen to speak Korean, do you? Thought not. Was worth an ask though. ‘96 Flag Rally’s gameplay is more similar to Pac-Man than other driving games as players must maneuver a Formula One-style car around a cityscape whilst avoiding crashing into various tanks that are there for…some reason. We’re also not sure where this city is, as the buildings are a mixture of skyscrapers, medieval huts, and coliseums. Now, I’ve never been to South Korea, but I’m pretty certain coliseums are a distinctly Italian landmark. That’s not even the weirdest part of this game! That comes when you crash your car one too many times and you are greeted by a scary anime girl popping into existence just to chastise you. Dear God! She’s staring into my soul! Anime girls crop up throughout this game, actually, and I won’t even pretend to understand why. I just wish they’d tell me what they want so I could get them to leave me alone. ‘96 Flag Rally proves that South Korea knows how to make a wacky racing game, but what about their neighbours to the North?  Stick around to find out… no, seriously.

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M&M’s Kart Racing

Sadly not a game about Slim Shady driving to pick up some of his Mom’s Spaghetti, M&M’s Kart Racing for the Nintendo Wii is somehow far worse than that. It is the fifth game in a series based on the anthropomorphic sweet treats and it puts all of your favourite M&Ms behind the wheel of their very own karts. Marvel at the huge depth of characters in this game, including Red Sweetie Man, Blue Crunchy Boy, Sexy Green Lady, Terrified Orange, and SpongeBob Square pants. Is there any difference between the characters apart from their colors? You bet your bottom there’s not! The strangeness doesn’t stop at driving chocolates. The game has no items or power-ups, which is basically unheard of in a Mario Kart clone. Of course, to repeat the success with the transfer of Mario Kart from the Mario universe or Hearthstone from the WoW universe, where players even buy games boost to outpace the competition, is quite difficult. And then there’s this infamous line of dialogue in which a particularly speedy M&M shouts about approaching the sound barrier, which I hate for too many reasons to fit into a simple list with 10 entries. A bizarre game with few to no redeeming features, M&M’s Kart Racing is a title aimed at nobody, which is precisely who bought the game, so I guess the developers hit their targets. Also, when you start a race, it just says GET READY instead of “gentlemen, start your M-gines.” Unforgivable.

The Next Penelope: Race to Odysseus

Heralded as “Half Top-Down Racer, Half Shoot ‘Em Up, ”The Next Penelope: Race to Odysseus looks like the person who designed F-Zero drank twenty energy drinks before staring through a kaleidoscope for a  week straight. If the futuristic setting and psychedelic colors aren’t enough for you, this game also contains a bit of classical literature, as it is based on the Odyssey by Homer. In this telling, players take control of Penelope–no not that one– the wife of the hero Odysseus in the original text. In this version, Penelope pilots her trusty spaceship across the galaxy in search of her lost husband. Wow, if the original Odyssey had been this rad, I’d have paid more attention in school! It’s a unique idea wonderfully executed. The Next Penelope is a modern sci-fi racing adventure with a little bit of ancient history thrown in for good measure, and the combination works better than we would have expected.Although, if you’re studying the Odyssey for  an exam, I’d recommend that you…y’know…read it instead of playing this game.  Sorry. I’m only trying to help.

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Pyongyang Racer

For the geographically challenged among you, Pyongyang is an Asian city on the Taedong River that just so happens to be the capital of North Korea. North Korea is not a country known for producing video games. In fact they’re known for an awful lot of other things, and “video games” wouldn’t even crack the list of the top 5,000 of them. That’s why it might come as a shock to know that the country produced a racing browser game in 2012. Developed by a North Korean tourism company, Pyongyang Racer gives players the chance to drive round the capital and take in some of the sights. If you’re looking for a relaxing holibob to this isolated city, though, then think again; you must follow a specific route in your vehicle, or else face questioning from the traffic police. I guess you can take the game out of North Korea, but you can’t take North Korea out of the game. To call this game a “racer” is a bit of a stretch as most of the driving is done under very controlled circumstances, but the fact that it takes place in such an unexpected setting and because its sole purpose is to inspire tourism to that setting means that it had to be included on our list. Plus, it has the word “racer” in the title, so there.

The Zoo Race

Oh boy, where do we even begin with this one? Maybe nowhere. Can we just skip it? No? Alright then…In the events of the online game The Zoo Race, Noah and his ark full of animals survived the great flood and celebrated by having a little race. A little race that involves blasting unsuspecting animals out of canons and firing missiles at them. These fiendish courses were, within the universe of The Zoo Race, built by Noah and his sons, and all of this must have left the animals wondering if they’d have been better off drowning in the flood. Said animals include a rhino, a pig wearing a top hat, and a cougar named “Cain.” You know, just like in the Bible! Very little information about The Zoo Race exists online and we can assure you that this is a good thing. The graphics are outdated even for 2007, the narration is unintentionally hilarious, and the whole thing feels less like a Bible story than it does a fever dream. The game does have somewhat of a cult following today – despite being more B.S. than B.C.– with many players placing it firmly in the “so bad it’s good” category. Regardless of its quality, The Zoo Race is easily one of the strangest video games of all time, racing or otherwise. Amen to that.

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