Disney's Herbie: Rescue Rally (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



Like most people of my age I have very fond memories of my parents taking me to see the Herbie movies. It seemed that every summer there was a new adventure featuring the magical Volkswagen Beetle. A couple of years ago the franchise was reworked for a whole new generation and while, for me, it never really lived up to the original my pre-teen nieces and nephews thought otherwise. Herbie is an important property from Disney Interactive's point of view because it represents the first title they ever self-published with the original film tie-in on the GBA. From a gamer's perspective though the DS is hardly short of racers and some would argue it's already overcrowded but there's always room for Herbie. Isn't there?


Rescue Rally lets you tackle the game in a number of different ways - Story, Tournament and Quick Race. The latter is pretty self-explanatory and it's the Story Mode where fans of Herbie should head first. This takes you through a full adventure where you must race Herbie against a number of different cars over different locations in order to win both new cars and money. Most only require you to come second although there is a difficulty setting at the game's start. It's not just racing though and as with all decent arcade racers there are bonus items to pick up (including oil and the ability to transform into a bumper car) and short cuts aplenty. There are also a handful of head-to-head races and others that challenge you against the clock as well as a rather strange 'boost meter' track. In Tournament Mode you enter each race with points given for your finishing position. The driver with the most points at the end of the Tournament is the winner. There's also a multiplayer that unfortunately we were unable to test, as it requires more than a single copy of the game.


Herbie moves around the track more in an arcade than a simulation manner and the controls are both pleasing and responsive. There's also little in the way of power slides here and you will find that when you want Herbie to turn he will, even around the impossibly tight hairpin bends.


Visually it is considerably above the standard we've come to expect with games of this nature with everything, from the modeling to the environments, very pleasing. The tracks in particular are well designed and the various terrain features a generous amount of detail with a decent draw distance. There's even the odd weather effect with tornados throwing up debris and creating a thick fog that you'll need to drive through. One aspect of the visuals which may put some gamers off are the stylized cartoon cut screens though, featuring impossibly cutesy characters with huge heads and bulging eyes which, I have to say, gave me nightmares for weeks after playing the game.


While the VW engine and Herbie's horn sounds are all fine, the soundtrack is less inspiring and while it's not nearly as bad as some other kids' titles, it's still somewhat irritating after a while.

Dual screen

Outside of the obvious menu application the touch screen is also used to power up your boost meter. This is activated when you have collected enough '53' tokens to fill the gauge at the top of the screen. Once you have achieved this, a colorful 'showbiz' style ramp will appear at a random point on the track. Hit it and you'll enter turbo mode. This requires you to hit two circles alternatively on the touch screen as quickly as possible in a matter of seconds. The faster you do this, the greater the boost. The same is also true for when you collect a 'scream boost' icon with the longer you shout into the microphone the greater the turbo boost.

Final comments

I did start off this review by saying that the DS is well serviced with racers, which is entirely true. What I failed to mention is that most of them are really quite bad so it came as something of a surprise to see just how enjoyable Herbie was. On the down side it is over a little too quickly and although there is a multiplayer it requires more than one copy of the game. Still, for a game aimed at the pre-teen market, Rescue Rally is one of this year's great surprises and definitely one of the better racers for the DS.

Pro: Detailed Models and Environments, Great Racing Engine.
Con: More Than One Copy of the Game Required For Multiplayer.
Final score: 7.8


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Boxart of Disney's Herbie: Rescue Rally (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Racing
Developer: Climax Entertainment
Publisher: Buena Vista Interactive