☆ Review: Rally Racers - "Colourful Cartoon Karting" ☆ #IndieGame

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Game Title: Rally Racers
Developer: West Coast Games
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Rating: Melting
Rally Racers is a fun if slightly bland family-friendly racing game with a ‘kart-style’ approach that I found entertaining in short bursts as well as also oddly addictive, despite it’s issues.

Whilst it’s easy to just compare all kart-racing games to Mario Kart, developers trying to replicate that much-refined formula will always mostly fall flat under the Nintendo juggernaut. Rally Racers, however cleverly doesn’t try to be a typical MK clone, instead striking a similar tone to the mighty Rumble Racing on PS2, a choice I fully support.
There is a story within Rally Racers but it’s as threadbare as you’d expect from a racing game, the narrative isn’t the point here, it’s all about game play. Bafflingly, there is only a single-player mode available, which seems like a massively missed opportunity on the four-player supporting switch, especially as it’s a kid-friendly game that can be played by anyone and so would be perfect for friends and siblings alike.
You can initially only choose one driver but more are unlockable as you collect diamonds from working through Quest mode, the games’ only playable mode, the different drivers made no difference to the game play when chosen but as they are ‘converted’ to your team, they stop attacking you during the races, which is a welcome relief, especially on the more challenging tracks.

The races themselves take place across different areas of the in-game map. Whilst there are about 6 different sections locales (volcanic, jungle, beach, frozen, etc.)and  there are 4/5 races in each section which all take place on a slightly different route through each part. You have three objectives in each race:
Come at least 2nd
Earn a certain amount of points for stunts
Collect a certain amount of oranges (not entirely sure why it’s oranges that are collected)
There is also a ‘boss’ section before moving on to the stage of the map whereby you have to chase the main antagonist ‘Droog’ (spelled as ‘Druge’ on the West Coast Games info page) through the track, catching him before time elapses, a nice way to break up the races.
The controls during a race are quite intuitive and easy to pick up. Of note is the stunt system in which you use the right thumb-stick to flip or barrel-roll, gaining the points needed to complete the stunt requirement, but you also gain a small boost upon landing which can be used to get ahead in the race.
The graphics are bright and colourful but technically quite bland, I also couldn’t help but notice that the frame-rate suffers when the screen is busy which isn’t a massive issue but is irritating nonetheless (I can only assume that the reason that no multiplayer modes exist was due to the impact they would have had on the pace of the game).
Sound-wise, the music is soft and sadly, forgettable. The map screen especially sounds like the kind of music you’d expect to hear on the introduction sequence of an early 90s British holiday program. The sound effects and audio in general is functional but not a particular standout feature of the game.
There are also weapons available to assist you in beating your opponents to the finish line. I was again reminded of Rumble Racing as the freeze-gun, explosions (and style of physics) reminded me again of the earlier game (good) and deployed at the right time, these attacks can be devastating…to the player. The game is very fast-paced and later races can be quite challenging and so getting frozen, helplessly drifting off-track before being re-set after three seconds can be the difference between 1st and 4th, the same applies for running into a time-bomb which is a bubble that slows down your car to a crawl for a few seconds and can have a huge impact on your final position.
The enemy AI can be strange and erratic with cars randomly hurtling off the track for no reason or simply completely missing turns which, whilst helpful makes it clear that it needs tweaking. You also have companions that add features to your car such as a sheep that extends your shield-time (I kept this for the entire game because I was often out in front (#justsaying) and desperately needed to keep the dreaded rear-attacks at bay. However there are quite a few animals on offer that add certain bonuses like a longer boost, stronger weapon attacks, etc. that suit most play styles. Adding some depth is the fact that coins that are earned can be spent on upgrading your car between races, something that is absolutely essential to progress and again adds some depth to the [proceedings, although I felt like I may as well just soup up the starter car as opposed to buying new ones from scratch. Still, it’s a nice option for the completionists.
As you mostly won’t be able to complete all of the requirements needed to move forward to the next stage in one go, races will usually need to be attempted at least a couple of times. For instance, you can usually collect all the oranges whilst completing stunts, but at the cost of slowing down your laps, meaning you may only come third and so need to re-race in order to get that all-important golden cup but I didn’t find this an issue because, despite all of the above flaws….I found the game really playable and addictive with a definite more-ishness that sucked me in. I didn’t mind replaying the races because it’s such mindless fun and as they are quite brief, it’s a great game to dip into for short bursts, the general speed of the game ensures it’s never boring but it can become repetitive, so not the kind of game I would have a full-day session on.

Rally Racers is quite a safe title that doesn’t add anything new to the genre but it does sport an easy-going addictive vibe that I clicked with. It’s clearly an indie title that has a sparse selection of game-modes and the lack of multiplayer will definitely be a sticking point for some, but if you are a fan of arcade racers and aren’t bothered by a lack of depth, Rally Racers is a decent addition to your game library.

Right, I’m off to see if I can do a 1080 flip in my Austin Montego.

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

 Review By Britt

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