NASCAR games are sometimes dismissed by those who don’t play them for being games comprised of mostly left turns. While that’s correct, there’s a lot of depth to simulation stock car racing to explore, and lengthy races allow strategies to be implemented. NASCAR Arcade Rush is a far different spin, as it’s an arcade-style game that features plenty of right turns and doesn’t resemble the actual sport at all.
The coolest part of Arcade Rush is that the stages are reimagined versions of 12 actual race tracks, such as Daytona and Michigan International Speedway. These tracks often take inspiration from the cities they’re based on and aren’t afraid of getting ridiculous, like Homestead-Miami Speedway featuring a giant ring of fire you jump through. The tracks are the one element that really elevates what is otherwise a solid, yet largely unspectacular, racing game.
The problem with the actual racing is that there just isn’t much to it. Sure, you have a turbo meter that you can use to gain speed, and there are boost strips on the track that’ll reward you for driving on them. However, there’s no drifting or another gameplay system on offer that would’ve given the game the extra layer of depth it could’ve used. For a game that wants to be an over-the-top version of NASCAR, it could’ve dreamed a bit bigger with the actual gameplay.
The only unique gameplay system on display, and one I really like since it takes inspiration from actual stock car racing, is that it incorporates pitting. Since races are only three or four laps long, it is purely optional to pit, and it’s not to gas up your vehicle or address damage. Instead, slowing down temporarily through the pit lane will see your nitro gauge completely refilled. It’s a gamble — as you can also find boost strips that give you a tiny bit of nitro — but one that adds some additional strategy that the game definitely needed.
Ultimately, with only 12 tracks, the game doesn’t have a ton of staying power. You do level up and unlock a bunch of customization options (you can get a Tron-style vehicle, which is cool), but there aren’t compelling reasons to keep coming back. Unlocking real-life NASCAR legends as racers or throwback vehicles could’ve been a good incentive, but instead, there are only generic drivers to go up against. Time trials and online play, in addition to the main tournaments, add some replayability but aren’t overly compelling.
NASCAR Arcade Rush Review: Final Verdict
NASCAR Arcade Rush lives up to its name and delivers a fun, non-simulation racing game that features reimaginings of some of the most iconic racing tracks in the USA. However, it isn’t outlandish and exciting enough to completely win over an average arcade racing game fan, nor is it a love letter enough to NASCAR to make it a must-own game for stock car racing enthusiasts. Instead, it’s in the middle ground, where if you dig both, then you’ll have a good time, but you’ll still find yourself moving on to other games sooner rather than later.
Lots of customization options
Colorful levels based on real tracks
No licensed drivers
Gameplay is a bit too simple
Relatively sparse content
Disclaimer: This NASCAR Arcade Rush review is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Played on version 1.001.000.