Space Race for the PS2 is for the most part a direct port of the fairly well-received Dreamcast game that Infogrames released in late 2000. Developed by the publisher's talented Melbourne House studio, the game lets you play as various rocket-sled-riding Looney Tunes characters, who compete against each other in typical kart-racing-style matches. Due to the artists' skillful use of cel-shaded graphics, the game's characters look and seem very faithful to their television counterparts. Some corners were cut in terms of the gameplay, however, and the result is a kart racer that isn't quite as solid as the best that the genre has to offer. The PS2 version of Space Race does have two all-new tracks not found in the Dreamcast version, but it's also been almost two years since the release of the original game. So due to the fact that its visuals aren't anywhere near as impressive as they were back then, the game's technical flaws become a bit harder to swallow.
That said, looking at the characters and watching the ways they interact with one another is definitely amusing. There are nine characters in all, including some of Warner Bros.' most notable creations, such as Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, and Sylvester. As the way things often go in these games, some characters are more stable and slower than others, while others will accelerate more quickly but are more prone to being knocked around. But, for what it's worth, these differences seem much less pronounced than they do in other, better kart games. So in fact, all the characters seem pretty much the same, with the only distinctions being the ways that they look and animate. All their voices--and, in the case of Wile E. Coyote, informational signs--are intact, and in most cases, they all sound good enough to keep Mel Blanc from turning over in his grave. Space Race does a great job of bringing its characters to life, and this is its most fully realized element.
Space Race is basically a straight port of the old Dreamcast game.
It's too bad the gameplay doesn't quite stack up. While the controls are fairly responsive, there is a general disconnected feel to the game that, when coupled with the often-haphazard track design and brutal AI of the opposing racers, makes the gameplay pretty hard to like at times.
It seems promising enough. As you would in any game of its type, you'll find various sorts of weapons scattered throughout Space Race's tracks. They're called "gags" in the game, and, while they function much like you'd expect them to, their look is pure Looney Tunes. You'll be able to drop safes and pink elephants on enemies, as well as zap them with giant fireworks, jagged lightning bolts, and those black, spherical bombs that they use in cartoons all the time. You can even turn storm clouds loose on your enemies, and they'll trail them for a distance before zapping them with lighting. The effects all look very cool, and your character will acknowledge successful hits with funny little reaction animations or even cries of triumph.
Your enemies will effectively use those same weapons against you, though, and the frequency with which they'll do so will likely frustrate you at least a little. It happens so often that it frequently feels like chaos is raining down on you at random. In some of the later races, you'll feel like you can't travel more than 20 feet on a track without getting zapped, smashed, or skewered by something. You're able to avoid some of the attacks, but others will give little to no indication of their approach until they hit you. The falling weapons are examples of this--there's nothing worse than coasting in first place with nary a concern when, all of a sudden, "smack," there's an elephant sitting on your lap. There's a sidestep function in the control scheme that was presumably included for avoiding these types of attacks, but since you don't get much indication that there's something coming at you in the first place, it isn't particularly useful.