Beetle Adventure Racing! is a car racing game developed by Paradigm (along with EA Canada) and published by Electronic Arts for the Nintendo 64 in North America on March 23, 1999, in Europe on September 4, 1999, and in Japan on November 26, 1999.
Originally designed to be a Nintendo 64 entry in the Need for Speed series, Beetle Adventure Racing is an arcade-style racing game and tie-in with the recently-released compact car Volkswagen New Beetle. As one of several New Beetles of different colors, race in a variety of locales while collecting Nitro boosts and "point crates" (used for unlocking continues and bonus content) and searching for shortcuts.
In addition to traditional racing, with support for up to four players split-screen, the game includes a multiplayer battle mode similar to that from Mario Kart 64. Known as "Beetle Battle", this mode tasks players with driving around an enclosed arena to collect all six "beetles" and reach the exit, all while using a variety of power-ups (including missiles and invincibility shields).
In Australia, the game was released as HSV Adventure Racing, replacing the Volkswagen New Beetle with the Holden Special Vehicles GTS. While the game received no sequel, Volkswagen later partnered with Infogrames for another racing game featuring the Volkswagen Beetle, known as Beetle Crazy Cup (or Beetle Buggin').
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.
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.
The game includes six main tracks in total, four of which are locked until specific Circuits are completed.
- Coventry Cove
- Mount Mayhem
- Inferno Isle (unlockable)
- Sunset Sands (unlockable)
- Metro Madness (unlockable)
- Wicked Woods (unlockable)
- Castle (unlockable)
- Ice Flows (unlockable)
- Volcano (unlockable)
- Dunes (unlockable)
- Rooftops (unlockable)
- Woods (unlockable)
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.