Pit Crew Panic! Review
Pit Crew Panic! box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Hudson Soft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Hudson Entertainment Inc. 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 1, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Hudson Soft is currently tied with Gameloft for the most WiiWare games released, since Nintendo launched the downloadable game service earlier this May. While the quality of the developer’s offerings has been all over the board, it did manage to crank out a few of the better games featured on WiiWare. Its sixth bite-sized gaming morsel, Pit Crew Panic!, has a pleasant quirkiness about it that may draw players in, but the thin gameplay just doesn’t quite hold up for very long.

Pit Crew Panic! screenshot

Despite appearances, Pit Crew Panic! has absolutely nothing to do with actual racing; at least not in the traditional gameplay sense. The game does indeed require speed: instead of barreling around a race course with motors gunning at high speeds, your team of pit crew ladies will be diligently scrambling to repair anything and everything that stumbles into their pit. This means, instead of just fixing race cars, your pit team will be breaking out the tools and mending damaged components on a zany parade of WHATSITs – an oddball assortment of vehicles and more unusual items of varying sizes and shapes. Though things start out fairly normal, the silliness eventually abounds.

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With six sassy pit crew gals at your disposal, you’ll tackle each of the game’s obstacles head-on as they come crashing into your garage area. Each WHATSIT arrives in pretty rough shape. Many of its pieces will be cracked, burnt, broken, mangled, and damaged. Every piece is on its own timer and needs to be fixed before it catches fire and erupts, causing additional hassle for your workers. Each of your crew members can be assigned to work on individual broken parts, and they can be doubled up on larger elements to make things go faster. During moments when all six girls are busy, you also have the option of lending a helping hand by selecting them and initiating the appropriate emotion command that matches their action (cranking, screwing, sawing, hammering, etc.). Once a WHATSIT is all shiny and new again, you’ll grab an arrow with the Wii Remote and send it flying to make room for the next. In terms of actual gameplay, there’s not much more to Pit Crew Panic! than that.

Pit Crew Panic! screenshot

Maneuvering your team members to work on each WHATSIT is a straightforward drag and drop affair. After highlighting a girl, you only have to drag the cursor over to a broken element on the WHATSIT and release the A button to get her started. Selecting a working crewmember with the B button lets you perform a context sensitive motion with your Wii Remote to speed up their job. The D-Pad lets you adjust between several different camera angles to catch all the different broken pieces in need of fixing. Even with different view angles, it can be difficult at times to accurately get a crew member to the needed spot without some finagling. Also, idle team members tend to stand around in the most inopportune spots, making it tough to manage the team effectively when things get chaotic.

The absence of even a sparse story or campaign mode is quite glaring. Other than a very brief tutorial explaining the controls and gameplay, you basically can launch right into the game with only a few very limited play variations. Normal Mode puts you in control of a single pit crew. Meager parameters for each play session can be set, depending on how you want to play. You can either test your repair abilities by attempting to fix as many WHATSITs as possible within a set amount of time or by racing to repair a predetermined number of WHATSITs in the quickest time possible. For additional glory, Ranking Mode puts you through your paces in two different kinds of time trials, and your high-score can be published on an online leader board. The easier of the two trials throws more simple, common WHATSITs at you, while the second trial has you fixing up complex, hulking WHATSITs that are much more unusual.

Pit Crew Panic! screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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