Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beach Buggy Racing (NS) Review

Released a couple of weeks ago on the Nintendo Switch eShop, Beach Buggy Racing is a game in one of my favorite genres, the arcade kart racer. Here's my take on the game.

Handles as well as an overturn beach buggy

Some games make a great transition between mobile devices and consoles. Others, however, do not. Generally some improvements need to come into place, as what may be serviceable to play on mobile devices won't exactly cut it when it comes to consoles. This is the case with Vector Unit's Beach Buggy Racing. The games feels like a carbon copy of a mobile game ported over to the Nintendo Switch with little in the way of improvement.

Beginning with the positive, Beach Buggy Racing's Career Mode is an engaging one where you complete chapters of racing events before completing enough to take on that chapter's boss. Beating the boss unlocks that character as a playable one to race about with. Racing events in each chapter include things like winning races, elimination-style events, point-based weapon challenges, and time trials. Each event can net you up to three stars depending on how well you performed, adding some longevity and replay value to this mode. You can use the currency provided from completing events to buy new rides and upgrade them to boost their overall performance in races.

The racers are on their marks and ready to ride.
Outside of the single-player Career Mode, there is the ability to go against a friend via split-screen, race in a Grand Prix championship where the racer with the most points at the end of the series of races wins, a quick play option allowing you to race on whatever track you want, whenever you want, and Daily Challenges where each day you play against a varied racer and attempt to beat him or her for a reward.

As for the racetracks, while they aren't anything to be wowed about over design-wise, each one is distinct enough that there is a nice feeling of variety going on. This continues with each tracks' shortcuts, offering alternate paths to either whittle away from a precious millisecond from your total time or to create some very short distance between you and the other racers. However, these shortcuts seemingly are more trouble than they're worth, giving you such a mild reward for a massive risk most of the time, which ended up with me mostly ignoring them.

Most of the time, shortcuts such as this one prove to be more trouble than they're worth.
Comparing a kart racer made for mobile like Beach Buggy Racing to something built for a console like Mario Kart isn't particularly fair, but between a mobile-first racer and a console-first racer, the discrepancy between controlling and handling your kart is quite pronounced. Being based off a mobile game, Beach Buggy Racing has extremely loose and floaty controls to it, something that does not feel satisfying by any stretch of the imagination to control on a standard console controller. It seems as if the port team just took the mobile original's handling and made no adjustments to make the experience work well with the Switch's analog controls. Thus, what you get is a racing game that plays insufficiently and disappointingly because the handling is overall junky.

Screens don't really do Beach Buggy Racing justice, as the game looks much more pleasant in motion.
Furthermore, Beach Buggy Racing just isn't a deep racing game. Even casual arcade racers like Mario Kart contain advanced techniques in some form to get ahead of the competition and add some complexity to the gameplay foundation. For Mario Kart, it's the use of drifting and gaining boosts the longer you drift around a turn or corner. Sadly, Beach Buggy Racing has nothing of the sort. It's merely race after race of driving, staying on track, and hoping not to get screwed over by a wanton weapon on a given lap.

Here, too, becomes another issue with Beach Buggy Racing. The items in the game are for the most part full of offensive items. This means that you get very little to protect you while up in your first place. Since you can't use offensive weapons to shoot backward to block oncoming items, you're stuck with just a shield item that doesn't even come up consistently in the item roulette while in first position. When you do have a shield, it lasts for a limited time, making it difficult to time when to bring it up when an item is forthcoming. It also doesn't help that you basically just have to guess when the item is about to hit you as there's no visual signal whatsoever. That's not even discussing how CPU players can use their special abilities multiple times in races while you can only use yours once, or how the AI magically can come back to the race much faster than you can when they are hit by a weapon. It all just leads to one absolutely aggravating experience.

Get ready to see a deluge of item usage in each of Beach Buggy Racing's races.
And that is what Beach Buggy Racing is in its Nintendo Switch form, an aggravating experience. When one considers its unsatisfying controls and handling, "buggy" experience (ironically so given the title of the game) concerning how many times the BBR crashed on me during the review process, and bland presentation, what is acceptable on mobile platforms is not on the same degree as to what is acceptable on a full fledged console like the Nintendo Switch. Better sit this particular race out.

[SPC Says: D]

Review code provided by Vector Unit.

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