Though I have played Mario Kart 8 on the Switch, I have yet to purchase it for myself. My main barrier is that I own it on my mostly forgotten WiiU, which I also have more controllers for and have no problem breaking out if I am craving some kart style racing. In walked Beach Buggy Racing on the Switch, which has been out on multiple platforms for a while now but had never crossed paths with me. Now I finally have a racer on the Switch, and it is noteworthy all on its own, packing in lots to do, great handling, and solid graphics all at a budget friendly price. Vector Unit is known for all of the above, and they continue the trend with a well needed port to the Switch.
The premise in Beach Buggy Racing is as simple as most kart racers. Race your way to the top, climbing the ranks, upgrading your rides, and unlocking new characters along the way. You start from humble beginnings with simple cars, using your natural skills to start placing in events. Races, Eliminations, and more are present in the lineups. Races and Eliminations are classic, good fun. The balance of the competition is pretty fair, coming off as a decent challenge instead of being heavily favored one way or the other. These events are often hectic and fun when you consider the arsenal of 25 different powerups that you can use, which is a massive list. From heat seeking skull missiles, boxes of chickens, and giant wheels, there are all sorts of wacky items you can pick up. During the race, using these make things both fun as well as frantic, but towards the end is where they can become a real pain. While within seconds of the finish line, you can often expect things to go quite wrong if you are near some of your opponents, which can sometimes be frustrating when you drop from top three to bottom three in an instant.
In addition to those two modes, there are also some sprint type modes as well as boss battles. In the sprint modes, you have to hit as many targets as you can within a limited time using a specific weapon. Whether it is ramming targets with the charging bull horns or blasting them and other racers away with missiles, these are a welcome change of pace and test of skill. The boss modes are no joke though, and are incredibly tough. Even with many losses in mind, I kept going back for more. Each boss uses their own special ability to try and stop you from winning, but if you come out on top you unlock them as a character, giving you access to that ability when using them. I did not mind the challenge, but did hate the noticeable “rubberbanding” in place for the AI, where I would out pace them and suddenly they would be at my rear in no time. This rubberbanding is one of the very few issues I had with the game. Another main concern of mine was that there is no control to let you look back, which in my opinion, is vital in kart racers. I need to know if that chicken box or grease trap is lined up for a hit, or if I am soon to be taken over by the competition. I feel it is an odd overlook, but never the less the game is still very playable. I have a minor complaint too, which is definitely not necessary, but it would have been nice to see the inclusion of motion controls as well. I think it would have been a nice fit on the Switch personally, but again, it is not necessary.
By far the best feature of the game is its local multiplayer, which lets you and friends race with or without computer opponents. Racing with extra opponents is always the best route to go, and having this multiplayer mode on hand is great for taking on the go. I had a blast racing with my brother-in-law while visiting some family. The sessions are just the right length, and competitive kart racing is always a fun time. Note that there is no online multiplayer features present, which is fine from my perspective, as I honestly do not think I would have dabbled with it.
Visually the game is underwhelming, but not disappointing. The colors are clean and crisp, the 15 tracks are all unique and have their own character about them (as does the cast of racers), but overall it the graphics are not overly powerful, which is fine considering the cost of the game ($9.99 on the NA e-Shop.) That is not to say the game is not powerful itself, running at a very smooth 60fps. Not once in any of my races did I encounter any drops or stutters, which is impressive considering how much is going on. I really liked the variety of everything present, and while nothing was overtly impressive, it was all very welcomed.
Beach Buggy Racing is a great, casual game. Nothing beats grabbing a few controllers and going at it on the tracks with some friends. The controls are smooth, the game as a whole is really fun, and there are very little issues with the gameplay. Though not perfect, it is noteworthy, and at about $10 it is a very fun lineup to add to your collection, especially if you are in the same boat as me when it comes to not wanting to buy Mario Kart yet again. Beach Buggy Racing is a very solid kart racer, and if you have the funds, you should definitely make this a beach worth visiting.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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