AeroGauge © 1997 ASCII Entertainment Software, Incorporated.
ASCII's futuristic hovercraft racer is a high-adrenalin Pak that offers plenty of raw speed.
The developers jettisoned power-ups and other namby-pamby stuff, instead concentrating on one thing: speed. Except for the forgiving Canyon Rush track, the three tracks available at game's start twist and turn like a preschooler's shoelaces. Mastering them requires jack-rabbit starts, pinpoint cornering and an extreme reluctance to ever hit the brakes.
AeroGauge's five vehicles are each rated for five characteristics: speed, acceleration, steering, shield and stability. Shields protect you from nasty meetings with walls, which happens quite a bit, especially in the tortuous China Town track. Fortunately, each track has a Redemption area. As you fly through it, a green haze covers your shields, indicating that they are being repaired.
A novel feature has you winning the keys to five additional vehicles by finishing a track in a time ending in 64 (as in 2 minutes 19.64 seconds). One of the top hidden performers looks like a giant N64 Controller! Each race lasts three laps, except for the lengthy Neo Arena track, which lasts two. Champion drivers can enter two additional tracks.
Once a race begins, you'll find that you gain speed by flying as high as possible. The high way also allows you to avoid ground-hugging obstacles. The biggest challenge comes from threading the tubes that twist through every track except China Town. You can bounce your way through a tube, but you'll damage your shields and lose valuable time. It's best to cleanly enter and exit a tube in the middle. Once inside, try to hug the orange-and-black arrows on the tube's wall.
Play control is responsive, yet conveys the soft, cushioned feeling you' d expect of a hovercraft. AeroGauge offers three Controller configurations. Like most other N64 race games, default has the Control Stick steer, the A Button accelerate and the B Button brake. The Z Button's drift capability allows you to cut sharp corners, but dramatically slows you down.
Single player modes include Grand Prix, One Match and Time Attack. In Grand Prix, you must post a qualifying time on the Canyon Rush track before racing seven other chariots on a four-track circuit. One Match pits you against seven vehicles in a single race. Time Attack offers an infinite lap option. Your best time can be saved as a ghost to a Controller Pak.
Two-player Vs. Mode allows you to pick any track you want. For all intents and purposes, the split-screen frame-rate is as good as it is in a single-player mode.
AeroGauge maximizes replayability by offering three speed levels. The 26 selectable music tracks lean heavily toward drum machines and showboating guitar riffs.
AeroGauge offers plenty of straightforward action for speed fanatics. Players looking for lots of vehicles, power-ups and sophisticated tactics might want to look elsewhere.