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|Developer(s)||Midway Games, Eurocom, Gratuitous Games, Crawfish Interactive, Graphic State, Just Games Interactive, Raw Thrills|
|Publisher(s)||Midway Games, Nintendo|
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Wii|
|First release||Cruis'n USA|
|Latest release||Cruis'n Blast|
|Spin-offs||The Fast and the Furious|
Cruis'n is a series of racing video games originally developed by Eugene Jarvis for Midway Games and published by Nintendo. The series distinguishes itself from other racing games with its over-the-top presentation and fast-paced gameplay, featuring a wide variety of vehicles and tracks based on a variety of real world locations. The series debuted in North American and European arcades in 1994 with the release of Cruis'n USA, which, along with Killer Instinct, was advertised as running on Nintendo's Ultra 64 hardware. Two sequels followed, Cruis'n World and Cruis'n Exotica, which featured new vehicles and tracks. All three games were released for the Nintendo 64 as well, with Exotica also being released for the handheld Game Boy Color. The next game in the series, Cruis'n Velocity deviated from the traditional arcade gameplay of the series and was released for the Game Boy Advance.
After Midway exited the arcade business, Jarvis and his new company Raw Thrills released the arcade game The Fast and the Furious, which was based on film of the same name and shared gameplay elements with the Cruis'n games. The game was ported to the Wii with all aspects of the film license replaced and released simply as Cruis'n. Raw Thrills licensed the Cruis'n name from Nintendo for a new arcade machine, Cruis'n Blast, released in 2017.
Original arcade releases
The original arcade games were developed by Midway and designed by Eugene Jarvis. All of them have the same general gameplay. The objective in each game is to outrun nine cars in various different levels located in different real world places. Players can choose individual levels or "Cruise" and race each track in order. A variety of different cars in each game is available.
The first title in the series is Cruis'n USA which was released into video arcades in 1994 and published by Nintendo. The race starts in San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and ends at the White House in Washington, D.C. Arcade units can be linked to provide multiplayer gameplay. The original arcade game, along with Killer Instinct was promoted as running on Nintendo's Ultra 64 hardware, which would later be available as a home console, allowing for a perfect home conversion of the game. However the Nintendo console, renamed the Nintendo 64 was entirely different hardware-wise. Initially slated as a launch title for the system, the game was delayed and was instead released on December 3, 1996. It features a downgrade in graphics as well as controversial censorship of the arcade original. In the Nintendo 64 version, most of the levels are initially locked except for U.S. Route 101. Along the way players can race in different difficulties to unlock new paint jobs and upgrades. The Nintendo 64 version can also save progress using different accounts. Despite the differences from the arcade original and poor reception from critics, the game was a hit and re-released in 1998 as a Nintendo's Player's Choice title. Ten years later, the N64 version of the game was released on the Wii's Virtual Console.
The first sequel to the game Cruis'n World was released into arcades also in 1996. The general gameplay remained the same, with different locales. The race now starts in Hawaii and ends in Florida. New to the game was a stunt system, which allowed players to perform stunts and gain time to finish the race. The Nintendo 64 version was developed by Eurocom and originally scheduled for release in fall 1997, but the game was silently delayed until the summer/fall of 1998. It was far better received than the port of the original game. In the Nintendo 64 version, most of the levels and tracks are available from the start with additional cars and stages and new paint jobs available as unlockables. There are also new courses and cars only available in the Nintendo 64 version as well as Rumble Pak support. Progress in the Nintendo 64 version can be saved using only one account. Again, this version went through some censorship (namely the removal of the ability to kill wildlife). Both the arcade and Nintendo 64 version now allowed for up to four players on the track.
The third and final game in the original arcade series, Cruis'n Exotica was released into arcades at the end of 1999. The game featured twelve new tracks, with the race starting in Hong Kong and ending on Mars. The game retains the stunts feature of the previous game and adds a PIN system by which players can store their in-game history by establishing a personal passcode using the cabinet's keypad. Home versions were released for the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color in fall 2000. Gratuitous Games developed the Nintendo 64 version, which replaced some licensed cars from the arcade (e.g. the Chevrolet Corvette (C5), Plymouth Barracuda and Plymouth Prowler) with generic equivalents. The Game Boy Color version, which was developed by Crawfish Interactive and the Nintendo 64 version all feature unlockable tracks and cars. The Nintendo 64 version can again save different accounts while the Game Boy Color version uses a password system. Yet again, the Nintendo 64 version was censored to remove the ability to kill wildlife. Both the arcade and Nintendo 64 versions can allow up to four players on the track.
The next game in the series, Cruis'n Velocity was released exclusively for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. This game was developed by Graphic State and published by Midway Games. The race takes place in exotic places like Las Vegas, Holland, Alaska, and Mars. The objective of the game is to outrun seven other cars in fourteen different courses by using the new boost system. Just as in the previous games, the player can unlock new kinds of stages and cars. The game uses the password system to save progress and allows up to four players by using the Game Boy Advance Link Cable.
In 2004, Eugene Jarvis's new company, Raw Thrills, released The Fast and the Furious, an arcade game based on the 2001 film. The game was heavily based on the original Cruis'n games, with players choosing from seven different cars and cruising through twelve different courses. The race starts in New York's Times Square, and ends in Los Angeles's Mulholland Drive. The game features a nitrous system, which gives cars a brief boost of speed. The game also has a money system by which players earn cash to unlock new upgrades. It was later ported to the Wii by Just Games Interactive and released by Midway in 2007 as Cruis'n, which featured none of the original game's The Fast and the Furious branding. The Wii version was heavily criticized for its dated presentation, shallow gameplay and long loading times.
- "Nintendo to censor Cruis'n". IGN.
- "Results of Cruis'n USA Poll". IGN.
- Sam Machkovech (November 2, 2016). "You'll need to hit the arcades to play new Daytona USA, Cruis'n". ArsTechnica. Condé Nast. Retrieved February 26, 2017.