Beetle Adventure Racing! is composed strictly of Volkswagen New Beetle vehicles, which were released the year before the game's release.
The game uses six lengthy tracks in its singleplayer championships and has an impressive draw distance compared to other Nintendo 64 titles. Each track is respectively insane, with ghosts, dinosaurs, castles and alien spaceships. One level even uses WHAM!'s "Last Christmas" to set the tone.
Each course features a variety of boxes strewn on or near the track. Boxes provide different rewards to the player; for instance, a nitro boost that increases speed. There are also special "Flower Boxes" that unlock cheats to modify gameplay. During singleplayer "Championship" races there are "Points Boxes" placed on the track worth varying amounts. 100 points are available on a given course, and because many boxes are placed on hidden shortcuts, a player who wishes to get the maximum number of points during a race must vary the path they take through the level each lap. Earning a full 100 points on a level unlocks new multiplayer arenas.
The game is often compared to San Francisco Rush, because of its fun-oriented gameplay.
Beetle Adventure Racing uses a modified version of the then-current Need for Speed engine, which manifests itself most visibly in terms of the four-point suspension and the zooming tachometer. The tracks differ slightly, however, and do not start and finish at the same point. Instead, each course has a brief entry road, the player races the allotted three laps, and the last lap switches guardrails in order to funnel the player into an exit track with a (usually dead-end) finish-line. Oddly enough, few games have employed a similar mechanic since then.
The game features a multiplayer portion for 2 to 4 players in split-screen. Two-player races can be unlocked by completing the single-player game. There is also a Beetle Battle mode, where players collect ladybugs, destroy each other and race to the finish.
- Coventry Cove
- Mount Mayhem
- Inferno Isle
- Sunset Sands
- Metro Madness
- Wicked Woods
Beetle Adventure Racing! contains multiple unlockable cars, each with different attributes. The final car to be unlocked is a New Beetle police car. While racing with the police car, other nearby cars can be slowed to a halt by using the car's police siren.
Beyond new cars, there are many different cheats that can be unlocked by smashing the points boxes on the courses. These cheats do not necessarily make the game easier to play, and in many cases simply modify the game in interesting or amusing ways. For example, one of the early cheats earned is a "Fisheye Lens" camera that distorts the player's field of view.
Regional Variation: HSV Adventure Racing! (Australia)
In Australia, "HSV Adventure Racing" was released with Holden Special Vehicles instead of Volkswagen New Beetles. Besides that, the two versions are identical.