When one dreams of racing venues, it usually falls
in the normal categories: NASCAR, stock car, off-roading, super high-powered flying
machines hovering inches off an elevated track, etc. Rarely does one dream about racing
18-wheelers. Yet, this Dreamcast title is a port of an arcade title that does just that:
race huge, clunky monstrous trucks in effort to deliver goods on time; in the words of the
rather annoying CB guy: "become a real professional."
Sega has made a number of arcade ports, some of them quite
successful in their transition to the console world. However, this port seems to lack in
its transition. Perhaps it is the huge cabinet with massive steering wheel, pedals, gear
shifter and louder than life horn. Perhaps not. Whatever the case, something just doesn't
sit well with 18 Wheeler.
The goal is relatively straightforward: make it to the checkpoints before time runs out.
This is much easier said than done; 18 Wheeler's difficulty level is steep but
disappointing. Be prepared to attempt the same course over and over until finding the
correct path. After that, the game loses much of its appeal as there is little variety.
While there are branches in the routes, one is often quite better than the other.
Players can choose from four different trucks with the attendant varying stats and also
have the opportunity to choose between normal/hard loads in later stages. A rival truck
also desires to be the bane of your existence; he'll cut in front of you, cause massive
pileups, and - most annoyingly - won't shut-up with a constant stream of CB chatter.
Players can drive freely, but none of the trucks are particularly
fast, so avoiding everything is the general rule of thumb. Crashing into obstacles incurs
losses against the money you are attempting to earn and slows you down considerably.
Two bonuses exist - bonuses that are necessary to the successful completion of stages - in
the form of time vans and slipstreams. Time vans are parked at intervals along the course.
Nailing one will net a three second bonus and slow the truck down considerably unless
struck just right. Slipstream is the dubious art of positioning oneself behind another big
rig and following it thus granting a slipstream speed boost.
If you beat the rival to the end of the stage, there are bonus stages designed to earn
more money. Sega also included a score attack mode and a parking mode to add to the
package's appeal. There's also a two-player mode.
Graphics are a good representation of the Dreamcast's power; the tracks are well done with
good detail - especially the tornado in stage two. Aurally, the game isn't as pretty - no
catchy music and a constant chatter of CB noise.
There are only four stages at four to six minutes a piece, so it does not take too long to
master the game. There's little replay value once mastered, beyond the general arcade
desire of bettering scores. Overall, there are better racers and better arcade ports out
there for the Dreamcast, recommended only for short play.