Hooters: Road Trip for PS1 is definitely a journey

Hooters: Road Trip Header

Not as tantalizing as IHOP: Road Trip

I’ve been to Hooters at some point during my teen years. I can tell you that all the hormones in the world would not take away from how awkward I felt. I’d say it was mutual shame, like getting your genitals waxed, but I don’t know who would take that job not feeling comfortable with the implications. So, the shame was all me. It’s like going to a strip club; I understand the purpose, but I’m still afraid to make eye contact. At the very least, I respect a place that moves ogling out of parks and beaches and into a consensual environment, but I have damage in the ogling center of my brain.

Believe it or not, Hooters actually had a video game. Sort of like how McDonald’s had McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure, except instead of mascots, there are tits. Also, like the games McDonald’s licensed, there isn’t any food. Not like the core attraction at Hooters is the food – let’s not kid ourselves – but you may wonder what they could possibly translate into a game. I’ve got a lot of ideas, but the one they went with is driving. Hooters: Road Trip has you journey across the USA to various restaurant locations.

Hooters: Road Trip Desert Road

Tacky, yet unplayable

I thoroughly love a road trip game. Even the worst can get my attention through concept alone. I’d be lying if I said that’s what attracted me to Hooters: Road Trip. It’s not the promise of tight, white t-shirts straining at the seams, either. It’s because it’s bad, obviously. Though, I can’t imagine anyone having such passion for the subject matter that they’d pour their talent into the final product. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the license came up as an afterthought and they slapped it on some prototype the lead developer was mucking around with.

Actually, I might not be all that far off. The programmer is listed in the credits as just “Miracle Designs,” like no one on the team wanted to be associated with it. Miracle Designs would go on to release a slew of animal mascot cart racers on PS1, such as ATV Racer and XS Airboat Racing. I’ve never played any of them, so I’m not going to comment on them, it’s just shocking to me that you’d name a cartoonish game about animals driving vehicles as something unimaginative as ATV Racer. They were released around 2003 and 2004, late into the PS2’s lifespan, so I doubt anyone was betting on their success.

Hooters: Road Trip was released in 2002, two years after the launch of the PS2. It’s not that decent games didn’t come out after the launch of the PlayStation 2, but the launch of a new console is like the expiry date on a carton of milk. It’s not yet guaranteed to be bad, but the further past that date you go, the more likely you are to get a mouthful of rancid curds.

Hooters: Road Trip Taxi in the forest

How ya doin’, sugah?

As mentioned earlier, the game is set up as a road trip across the USA to a number of different Hooters locations. I say “road trip” because that’s what Hooters: Road Trip implies, but really it’s a race, which raises all kinds of questions. In a lot of ways, it’s reminiscent of Cruis’n USA. I’m not really a fan of Cruis’n USA to begin with, but it at least had redeeming values. Hooters: Road Trip does not.

Well, I suppose there’s one. After every race, you’re welcomed to the location by a waitress, presumably from that area’s branch. That’s nice and all, but it’s low-quality, PS-era, compressed video. It’s easy to see tits in way higher quality these days. On the other hand, it must have been cool for these waitresses to be featured in a video game. That’s assuming they’re actually just waitresses and not models posing as them. That would be sort of dumb. I can’t find anywhere that they’re credited, so it’s hard to confirm. I can definitely tell you they aren’t actors, that’s for certain.

I’m just hoping that the Jacksonville lady is doing well. Like, maybe she’s moved on to be a dentist or something cool.

Hooters: Road Trip Welcome to Jacksonville

It’s not the journey, it’s the destination

And then you get down to playing the game, and that’s where things go horrifically awry. You can go back to picturing Cruis’n USA, but then add the vision of playing it on an old Blockbuster kiosk where the N64 joystick has gone limp from overuse. It controls like it’s upset with you. Like it’s so tired off you telling it what to do that it’s going to be a dick about it.

To be more specific, cars oversteer like Hooters: Road Trip is trying to simulate what it’s like to drive shortly after an alcohol bender and a day of riding on the Gravitron. I honestly am struggling to think of a single driving game that controls worse. It’s common for some games to deliberately hamper you car’s controls, and they don’t go nearly as hard as Hooters: Road Trip.

Maybe it’s lucky that the tracks are all variations of straight lines. The level design is like an early raster racer; just a bunch of gentle curves that never loop around on themselves. In a sense, it’s a rather realistic interpretation of driving the country’s highways. Or it would be if the highways were so narrow they could barely accommodate two cars. For some reason, my brain brings to mind Mickey’s Speedway USA and saying, “wouldn’t it be so much cooler if the tracks were more like this?” Yes, it would, brain, but here we are, traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville again and again.

Transport Truck in low res environment

The road less traveled

If we’re being fair to the developers, Hooters: Road Trip was supposedly released at a bargain price of $9.99. That makes it somewhat similar to Burger King’s endeavors on Xbox: Sneak King, Pocket Bike Racer, and Big Bumpin’. But those games were passable distractions, and this doesn’t even reach that lofty claim. I’d make a comparison to the food at an actual Hooters restaurant, but once again, that would be suggesting it’s mediocre, and we’re well short of that.

It’s more like Hooters: Road Trip is a plot by Hooters executives to get more people into their restaurant by destroying the credibility of all other forms of entertainment. Like, if this was flanked by “Hooters: To the Rescue” in theatres and “Hooters on Ice,” the illusion would be complete. When all other forms of entertainment are boring at best and torturous most of the time, we’ll always have breasts to fall back on.

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Zoey Handley
Zoey is a gadabout gaming hobbyist. She's been playing video games all her life and is a lover of both new and retro games. She enjoys digging in the dirt and picking out the games that are perfectly fine if you clean them up a bit.