Rally Racers suffered from repetition, unbelievable characters, bland story and lack of replayability. It felt more like a mini-game for a full eShop game price.
My love of video games encompasses numerous genres of games. There are those core games that most of us play, love, replay and cherish. These are the reasons that we still have exclusive console games. We all have favorite games that if a sequel or successor were released tomorrow, we would be in line to purchase one, without a second thought. However, the eShop provides lesser-known titles for you to peruse and we do not have the luxury of references to help us with our decision. I wish that there was a way to download/try the full game for a while, but this is not currently possible So, we must rely on reviews to discover the Good/Great, the Bad/Terrible, and the Ugly. To cut to the chase, Rally Racers is one of those games that looks like it would be fun but stumbled significantly.
The Nintendo eShop Rally Racers game opened to an active beach scene. Along the bottom, you will find a cute little stationary cartoon crab, blinking his large white eyes. Along the top, you can enjoy the active ebb and flow of the water, a floating boat just off the coast and racers intermittently passing beneath the four touch panels. Each of the panels will take you to a secondary screen. The central 1 1/4 inch “Quest” square will direct you towards the races, the left “Garage” 7/8 inch square will take you to car selection, and the ability to upgrade your vehicle, the lower “Drivers” 7/8 inch panel will take you to racer selection and then the right 7/8 inch “Companions” square will take you to your animal companions. I know that I said that there were only four panels, but there was a fifth 1/2 inch panel along the top right. From this panel, you can access the audio (music and sound FX), help, credits and visualize the controls. Across the top, you can see your bank of the two in-game currencies: a mustached man wearing a top hat (Top-Hat-Man coins) and diamonds.
You start out with the red Jeep-esque “Mini Monster.” Along the left of the screen, you will see the upgrade panel. As you play the game, you will generate Top-Hat-Man coins, and you can trade these in to upgrade your handling, Top Speed, Acceleration, Stunt Speed, or Boost Capacity. Along the right of the car, the game makers provided a brief synopsis of the pros/cons of the vehicle. For example, the Mini Monster is the “Jack of All Trades, And Master of None.” If you press the blue arrows along the sides of the car, you will be able to access newer cars. The Rapid Racer embodies “Herbie The Love Bug” and is listed as super fast, super heavy and will push every other car off the track. This car will allow you to generate more stunt points and starts with higher top speed. The “Bonkers Buggy” dune racer starts with higher stunt speed and boost capacity and is light, maneuverable and enjoys higher jumps. The Turbo Terror wagon incorporates fins to embody speed and stealth. The car starts with mildly increased handling, top speed, stunt speed and increased boost capacity. It has a larger fuel tank and is designed to win races. The Speedy Supremo “Mustache” car starts with increased handling and top speed and mildly increased stunt and boost capacity. The car is swift/agile and combines control with speed and also provides a stunt point bonus. Each of the cars can be purchased for 10,000 Top-Hat-Man coins. Once you purchase the vehicles, you can spend 25 diamonds to change the paint job of your car. As you increase the levels for each of the five parameters, it will cost more and more Top-Hat-Man coins. Every time you race, you will generate coins, and you can repeat races to further amass your Top-Hat-Man coin bank. I found top speed and handling to be the most beneficial earlier in the game as you need to win races and then stunt speed to keep you in the air longer to generate points. To win races invest your points in top speed, acceleration, and boost capacity and do not waste them on new cars. After you complete the first three missions, you will win the Bonkers Buggy vehicle anyway (if you get all gold trophies). Again, I would not recommend spending 10,000 Top-Hat-Man coins to buy the cars, unless there was that “must have” car.
Along the right, you will access the vehicle pets. You will start with Jess the “Sheepy Shielder.” As you drive, you will notice a cartoony animal sitting with you in the vehicle. Each animal provides a bonus to your race, and you can change animals as often as you desire. Jess is labeled as “a sheep from the future,” and uses future tech to increase the duration of the protective shield. SImilar to the Garage, the Companions will also require purchase. This time, each of the animals will cost 2500 Top-Hat-Man coins. Rufus, the Stunt Star, is listed as a “Thrill-seeking pooch who loves performing stunts.” This character increases the number of stunt points per stunt. As a companion animal, he is the second most important. Since there are only three tasks per race, more stunt points increase your chances of higher stunt scores. The next animal is Daisy, the Cash Cow. She will help you to get more coins per race. If you want to upgrade your cars, definitely use Daisy to get more Top-Hat-Man coins. Dizzy the Duck protects your driver from the effect of the confusion weapon, which reverses your controls. Ginger the Tiger loves speed and will help you to increase the duration of the rocket booster, perfect for someone who wants to win races. Frosty, the Anti-Freeze Penguin, prevents damage to your driver from the freeze gun weapon. Twigg, the Trunky TrailBlazer, increases your speed off the track, to allow you to get back onto the track sooner. This was the least useful of all o the animals. Lastly, Ossi the “Big Booster” Shy Giraffe will provide you with extra boost fuel. After about an hour of playtime with Jess, I felt Rufus, the stunt dog, Daisy the Cash Cow, Ginger the Rocket Tiger and possibly Ossi the Boost Giraffe were the only companions that I wanted. I had very little use for Twigg the Map Elephant, Frosty the Freeze Penguin, nor Dizzy the nuclear protection duck.
You start out with Rees, a Captain & Scrum Half as your driver. He is listed as fast, reliable and strong. For 10 diamonds, you can buy Mari #13, and she will stop attacking you. For 30 diamonds, you can purchase the All” Rounder fast/fit and strong Jo #7, who will stop her from attacking you. For thirty more diamonds you can purchase Jeffrey #15, Tyrone #1, Eddie #8, Becks #12, or Rich #11. Each time you purchase and use a new driver, they will not attack you. Each of the drivers appears incredibly creepy. Personally, the short big headed, green-faced drivers did not match the cartoony cabins, the cartoony racers or the theme of the game. Once you purchase the driver, they will turn more peach colored, but they still have a head that is too big for their bodies. There are only 4 spots for the first 3 races but this increased to seven for the second world.
When you touch the Quest icon, you will first get to race a tutorial race. From within this race, you will get to learn everything about the game. You need to collect floating oranges, do tricks as you launch off ramps to generate trick points and finish the race in first. Initially, this was a challenge due to poor handling and lack of speed. As you complete races, you will generate Top-Hat-Man coins and you will be able to upgrade your car. I would recommend upgrading your handling, acceleration and top speed and then the boost capacity. As noted above, do not waste your money on the next cars, as you can earn these by getting all golds. As you spend money on your car, winning races becomes easier. Additionally, I would recommend purchasing the Daisy cow to generate more coins for each race. After a few races, you will notice that the world/environment remains the same, but you navigate a few different tracks throughout the world. I wish that there was an opening cinematic to tell me why I was racing and why Droog and the drivers were involved. Additionally, what are the Top-Hat-Man coins and why are there large floating oranges? Once you finish the first three races, which are quite repetitive, you will get to a challenge race against Droog. In fact, the game is set up into a series of three races per world followed by a Droog-Ghost-Challenge. The mechanics of this race were a little different because there were no weapons and no booster and you had to capture the ghosts that he released. The handling overall was a bit rough, the frame rate seemed choppy, and the wait-scenes seemed too long. After a few races, I struggled to find the motivation to continue playing.
The cartoon worlds were cute and I did appreciate the different tracks through them. The car upgrade mechanic was the best part of the game, but the second car did not handle as well as the first one. As stated, do not buy any of them, unless you know which one you want to use for the rest of the game. The weapons are helpful but unbalanced. The boost rocket was helpful for winning races, the rocket would launch you into the sky and allow big air and stunt points. The only other weapon that I tried to get during my race was the defensive forcefield. Collect the oranges as you complete the map. Then work on stunt points and then work on finishing first. Gain a gold trophy for each of the three tasks and each of the three races and win the 10,000 Top-Hat-Man coin bonus of a new car. The air tricks are easy to complete by pushing up, down, left or right on the right thumbstick. Similar to the Olympics, you will get more points if you do multiple tricks and fewer points if you repeat the tricks. I found side rolls were easier to land than front/backflips. IF you do not land the trick, you do not get the points. The physics felt reasonable, but the tricks were lifeless. The racers were lifeless, the companion did not make sense, and the learning curve was not that steep.
As you play further into the game, you will continue to need to win races, collect oranges and perform the same stunts. I missed versus mode, battle royale mode and other styles of games. I missed the opportunity to have a personal garage to decorate. I also did not like racing the same boss every fourth zone. The Boss challenges cheated and gave Droog an incredible head-start. To win, all you need to do is play, earn coins, upgrade your car and then repeat. The overarching concern is the lack of replayability. The game was a short-lived joy, and I felt that this was a good start. However, it was very monochromatic and did not stand up to continued play. With the gaming industry constantly looking for the next big thing, this $10 game did not feel like it was ready. The game has a prominent grind feel as you upgrade your car, purchase a companion and racer. Continue to play matches until you get the desired effect, there is no negative, and there is no setback. If you finish last, you will still generate coins.
The biggest weakness of the game was the reverse button ZL. Instead of slowing your car down, it turns it into a cuttlefish or squid, and you dash backward. This was uncontrollable and resulted in resetting onto the track. If you want to win a race, do not push that button. The game will reset you if you go off track instead of causing you to reverse and end up worse than staying where you left the track. Similar to the reverse gaffe, the stunt metric was broken as well. If you were blasted into the air by the rocket or if you got too much ramp air, the game registered you as off course and reset your position. Unfortunately, this eliminated the points earned for that trick. This proved to be incredibly frustrating. There was no ramming method, the racecar would either get stuck behind a car, or you would simply fail a stunt. I try to be an optimist as much as I can, but in this case, I would not recommend spending money on this game, at least not at this time. I would rate the game at 2/5 stars.