Beach Buggy Racing is a mobile kart racing game in the vein of Mario Kart 8 that originally launched on mobile devices and has very positive reviews on both the iOS App Store and Android Google Play marketplace. Developed by Vector Unit, the makers of Riptide GP2 and Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Beach Buggy Racing seeks to deliver easily-accessible kart racing action no matter where you are. But how does this mobile port stack up on the Nintendo Switch? It’s hard not to compare it to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but when it’s just a tap away on my Switch, does Beach Buggy Racing scratch an itch that Mario Kart can’t? Here’s our review of Beach Buggy Racing for the Nintendo Switch:
GAME MODES FOR EVERYONE!
Feature-wise for a $9.99 game, it’s robust. There are multiple game modes, including a single-player Career Mode, split-screen co-op, Quickplay, Championship mode, and Daily Challenges. I played the Career mode extensively and unlocked all 8 racers available as I progressed. Each racer has a unique ability they can only use once during a race; my favorite was the default racer as his Turbo boost would often help me in a last-ditch effort to grab first place. My car of choice was the super-sleek Lambini super-car, though you have 7 other cars to choose from each with different beginning stats. I appreciate that I can upgrade my car’s stats to improve handling, acceleration, top speed, and ‘strength’ as I progressed to make my preferred car stay competitive through the Career mode. Additional racers are unlocked via 1v1 boss-mode style races which are tumultuous fights as despite you only have one of your ability to use, they can use their special ability at-will with a short cooldown.
This was insanely unfair but helped me in understanding how other racers’ unique abilities could be utilized without having to actually play as them. The co-op mode is nice to have, but nothing special. I was at least grateful that there was no noticeable performance drop in playing this mode; not that this game is graphically intensive, the flaws in this game shine brightly when the Switch is docked to a TV. I recommend only playing this in handheld mode where everything looks good on a screen that small.
Quickplay is just like it sounds, offering a quick race experience for those who just want to hop in. Championship and Daily Challenges are where it’s at, though. Championships are a series of four races, each awarding points based on pole position with a winner crowned at the end. This mode is exactly like Mario Kart’s but unfortunately, there’s no real reward for participating. Daily Challenges are random races or mini-games that require you beating a certain score, time trial laps, or other challenges that reward you with in-game currency to be able to soup up your ride. And in case I ever got bored with how my car looked, I could always go in and give it a fresh paint job or add decals like flames to my car – something I wish I could do in Mario Kart.
Championship and Daily Challenges are where it’s at, though. Championships are a series of four races, each awarding points based on pole position with a winner crowned at the end. This mode is exactly like Mario Kart’s but unfortunately, there’s no real reward for participating. Daily Challenges are random races or mini-games that require you beating a certain score, time trial laps, or other challenges that reward you with in-game currency to be able to soup up your ride. And in case I ever got bored with how my car looked, I could always go in and give it a fresh paint job or add decals like flames to my car – something I wish I could do in Mario Kart.
HOW IT CONTROLS, HOW RACES FEEL
Control wise it feels extremely floaty. Have you ever driven a hovercraft on ice? This is how I’d imagine it feels. Good thing the tracks are so wide; at first, I thought I was always going off-road but, no, that’s just to allow you to correct your steering. This is a mobile port, after all, and didn’t bother to upgrade the controls to take advantage of having real analog sticks, which is a shame. There is the ability to drift as well, but it’s incredibly difficult to use as you’re more likely to spin out than you will take corners. Races are essentially non-skill based anyways, so it doesn’t matter how well you drive. What does matter is avoiding the obstacles in the middle of the tracks, like palm trees on the beach tracks or piles of garbage in the city
What does matter is avoiding the obstacles in the middle of the tracks, like palm trees on the beach tracks or piles of garbage in the city tracks. Shortcuts are present in tracks but are more trouble than they’re worth. There was no noticeable time-saving when I took them and I often would fall behind if I tried to take them rather than pull ahead. While racing, there are power-ups available to grab a la Mario Kart that can either act as support, like turbo boosts or protective shields, or weapons, like dodgeballs and a floaty skull of death. Unfortunately, if you’re in the lead you’ll be subject to the game’s fickle systems if you’ll make it to the finish line unscathed.
Often, I found myself in second or third place and consistently getting shield pick-ups – which were great and all, but never helped me get ahead. The AI tends to be more aggressive than other like games, leading to frustrations early on that only persisted throughout. The first several races in the Career Mode feel just as unfair as the last few races. Unfortunately, without any advanced techniques, like boosted drifting, or shortcuts that actually save time, winning or losing seems more like gambling than racing.
THE FINAL WORD
Beach Buggy Racing may be a winner on the mobile scene but on the Switch, it just doesn’t hold up. Games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Fast RMX provide more than enough content in this arcade/kart racer genre on the Switch, and it makes me wonder what developer Vector Unit was thinking when they decided to port over this game. It reminds me of shovelware titles that came out on the Wii, and I’m saddened to think that we might see more lackluster mobile ports like this in the future.
Beach Buggy Racing is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 where maybe this can meet a need for a kart racer. But for Switch owners, if you don’t already own Mario Kart 8 or can’t afford to get a quality game, then I wouldn’t recommend Beach Buggy Racing. Unless it’s on your phone; where it’s free.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.