Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: Rock 'N Racing Grand Prix [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As a huge top-down arcade racing fan who enjoyed classics like Super Sprint way back in the day the concept of Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix immediately has my attention. I was a bit wary of how things would play out, given the lackluster quality of its off-road sibling, but was hoping that the lack of hills in this style of racing would let it shine. Unfortunately I’m here to tell you that, if anything, I found Grand Prix even more miserable to play and I find it next to impossible to recommend to anyone.


Where this review ultimately begins and ends is with the state of the controls. They’re absolutely abysmal. Trying to turn your car with even a modest amount of speed feels like you’re trying to turn a city bus. I literally spent some time trying to be sure that I wasn’t misunderstanding things and the steering was somehow relative to my car on screen or something it is generally so unresponsive. I get that you can’t simply turn a car going at high speeds on a dime, the fact that it feels more like your steering wheel is locked and won’t turn at all isn’t the way it works though. I’d thought that maybe the upgrade system would be the way to improve things but it made no substantial difference, and since steering is a critical part of racing this is simply crippling.


To be clear the issues its sibling had with driver AI inexplicably crashing and taking themselves out of races remains. Making any contact whatsoever with any other vehicle is still an absolute trainwreck. The various surfaces you end up driving on have unusual friction and even on the track at times your car will behave like it is on an oil slick. In addition, the physics of the vehicles when they get hit and go airborne are simply bizarre. On top of that the performance is a bit sketchy with a sort of stutter as the camera moves with your car. The engine below both games needs some serious tweaking and refinement, the behaviors of the vehicles in many cases is just wonky at best.


As you may have gathered I’m not at all a fan of Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix and I absolutely cannot recommend it to anyone as it gets the fundamentals of a racing game so wrong. On pretty well every critical level the game is lacking, provoking more frustration than anything else when trying to play it. This is a game that probably wouldn’t even be fit to be scrapped for parts.

Score: 2.5

Pros:
  • There are cars in it...

Cons:
  • AI opponents that wreck themselves and can’t recover
  • Turning is an absolute disaster
  • Making contact with anything at all is going to cripple your race
  • Overall jittery performance even as humble as the game’s appearance may be