Monday, May 13

Review: Pressure Overdrive! [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When it comes to racing games on Switch the majority have been kart racers of some sort, and honestly that’s been pretty brutal to watch as very few titles are even able to avoid being lapped multiple times by Mario and his crew. There have been some top-down and old school arcade racers, but the overall selection has been a bit thin. Pressure Overdrive has a racing component to it, but there’s more to it than that, adding upgrades and twin stick shooting elements to the mix. Throw in an unusual villain with Minion-esque robot helpers, a bit of resource management, and mix and you have a reasonably good arcade racing experience.


The first thing that lets you know this isn’t truly a racing game is how it controls. Rather than steering and hitting the gas or brake you’ll simply be using the left stick to control it all. When you throw in the right stick aiming your weapon it takes on a twin stick shooter feel, except you’re moving along at a fair rate of speed, dodging other vehicles, enemy fire, and an occasional hazard on the track. The good news is you’re not racing for position so much as survival, as you complete each course you’ll get scored on time, whether you maintained you bonus multiplier and how many enemies you destroyed so it really is an odd sort of shooter first and racing game second.


In order to up the challenge your vehicle and weapons run on steam power, which you’ll need to concern yourself with on some level. The weapons and upgrades you choose will have either a positive or negative net effect on your reserves so you’ll need to decide carefully what style of weapons and play suit you and then plan your upgrades accordingly around that. If you’re going to use steam-intensive weapons you may need to throttle their use a bit or be sure to choose upgrades that help you maintain your reserves in some way. Keep in mind your ability to boost is also driven by this power so if you want to be able to get that extra bit of oomph as you try keep yourself out of trouble you’ll want to be sure to have a little extra for that purpose.


While the gameplay is certainly novel and not quite like anything I’ve played before it also has a tendency as you go to begin to feel like it’s running together on you. Certainly the fact that you can upgrade your car to become more formidable along the way adds to variety but once you’ve settled on your weapon of choice the differences between races begin to feel more minor. You’ll face off against some new and tougher opponents, and get into an occasional boss battle but individual tracks don’t have much personality and you’re so busy trying to stay alive while blowing everything up that you don’t really have time to take any of it in. It can still have its moments, I’d just hoped it could keep the experience more fresh as it went. For some extra flavor there is an alternative more roguelike arcade mode that challenges you a bit more to stay alive but aside from not being able to freely choose your upgrades as you go there aren’t that many differences between it and the main mode in the end.


I’m a bit on the fence on Pressure Overdrive when it comes to scoring. One the one hand it’s a very unique idea and for the most part it works well, and offers you enough choice to allow just about anyone to find gear that works for them. On the other it has its moments but on the whole the races begin to feel a bit repetitive, not doing enough to differentiate from each other after a while. If you’re a fan of arcade racing and shooting this combination of the two may be good for some fun, but if neither are something you get super excited about it may not sustain your interest for long.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • A wide variety of upgrades and weapons that make many builds and play styles viable
  • Overall it’s a unique concept that’s executed pretty well
  • While not very complex the controls work nicely and should be accessible to just about anyone

Cons:
  • Once you’re locked in on your build the races have a tendency to begin blending together a bit
  • The arcade mode has a different setup but the overall racing experience still ends up feeling very similar to the main mode
  • It really tries to imbue everything with a bit of personality but the shameless copying of the Minions schtick detracted a bit from that effort for me