You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
Buzz! Junior: Ace Racers is the follow-up to the child-friendly Jungle Party and Robo Jam, yet again offering a series of games that almost anyone can play. Rather than the mini-game focus of previous games in the series, Ace Racers is predominantly a racing game, with players able to race in cars, boats and planes across a multitude of courses. Up to four players can compete together using the Buzz! controllers for all aspects of the game.
Ace Racers is played entirely with the Buzz! controllers, making it incredibly simple to learn. Race events play similarly to classic Scalextric, so you hold the big red button down to accelerate and release to slow down. Hold the button down too long and you'll spin out, especially if you use a boost while powersliding round a corner. This control system applies to cars and boats, but planes work slightly differently. Hold the button down and your plane will climb, let go and it will fall. The goal with the planes is to collect as many balloons as possible, and not to win the race.
The other half of the game is similar to the Buzz! Junior games of old, with mini-games themed around the premise of racing. As with the competitive racing side of the game, these mini-games are simple to pick up and play and only use the Buzz! controller.
As with previous Buzz! Junior games, everything about Ace Racers is made for kids. Being a racing game Ace Racers has a slightly different appeal to the mini-game heavy games the series has produced in the past, but it's still incredibly easy to set up games and the art style resembles a children's cartoon.
Some of the older Buzz! Junior games featured mini-games that had players taking turns. Ace Racers gets everyone playing together simultaneously for the majority of the time and the mix between racing and mini-games keeps things fresh. There's also the expected character customisation, but little has been done here to move that area of the series forward.
As with previous Buzz! Junior games, Ace Racers has a simplistic look but it's not without charm. The best thing about the game's appearance is that it looks fun, making good use of colour. Even little things like the way characters celebrate on the post-game results screen add to the party atmosphere. This is a PS2 game made for children so don't expect cutting edge visuals, but it's more than good enough to please kids for an hour or so at a time.
Anything for adults?
If you come into Buzz! Ace Racers expecting a string of quiz questions from Jason Donovan you're going to feel quite short changed. Although this uses the same controllers there's not a general knowledge question in sight. Still, adults will find the old-school Scalextric-style racing to be good fun, at least for the short while you'll be forced to play it with younger family members.
We're torn over whether or not Ace Racers is better than the previous Buzz! Junior games. In the end it'll come down to personal preference. If you're on the look out for a game to please a speed demon child who might not be able to grasp the complexities of the latest Gran Turismo, Ace Racers should fit the bill perfectly.