Tuesday, October 9

Review: Party Crashers [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Obviously fans of local multiplayer gaming have been given a blessing with the Switch, a system designed to make playing with others as accessible as possible. What we’ve seen since launch has been a wide array of choices for play, ranging from traditional to daring, and cerebral to twitchy. One of the more clever local multiplayer titles from last year was Party Golf, which had some basic and fun mechanics at its base but then layered on a load of options for reconfiguring the rules and obstacles, providing for a staggering variety of potential ways to play. The people from Giant Margarita behind that raucous title have now returned with Party Crashers, which sports many of the same concepts applied top-down-ish racing. While the spirit and fun are present to a degree, it unfortunately carries some complications from added complexity that keep it from rising to the level of its predecessor.


One great holdover from their first title is the visual aesthetic that borrows a bit from the likes of TRON, giving the game a somewhat futuristic look. The trademark weird humor has also come along for the ride, with some pretty standard vehicles to work with but then less practical ones as well including a giant brick and their signature banana car. While at the base there are four basic race types (you can opt to slowly unlock things or just jump the gun and unlock everything at once): Elimination, Race, Time Trial, and Battle, you’ll then be able to refine your experience on a high level with multiple available modes and then go crazy and customize further if you like with a slew of mutators as well to further tune your experience.


Probably the biggest issues it runs into are at the fundamental level, with slippery controls and a camera that can struggle in some modes to maintain viable angles at the top of the list. There’s something that very good racing games manage to pull off, somehow conveying a consistent sense of friction on the road to you which allows you to roughly feel the turns your making. This being a more stripped down experience placing an emphasis on wacky fun the fact that steering, and your degree of friction, in turns feels inconsistent may not be a huge surprise. It tends to feel good until it doesn’t, and at times for little discernible reason you’ll feel like you’re driving on the somewhat glossy glass-like surface the game’s visuals resemble. The decision to keep everything on a single screen was probably a good one but given the chaotic nature of the racing the camera very much struggles to keep an ideal angle for everyone involved. Even with only 2 racers it can sometimes be a bit brutal when you’re in the lead because the camera won’t always give you a great view of the track ahead. Given everything the game can and will support expectations for these systems certainly need to be tempered but they are worth giving a fair warning about so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised. While perhaps going without saying some combinations of modes and mutators can also make the game perform poorly or even simply end up unplayable in some way, but given the open-ended nature of how the game is set up this shouldn’t be a surprise.


Sticking to what the game is trying to accomplish, most of these concepts work well if you have a group of friends over to play with. There’s an enormous amount of variety even when exploring modes within each game type and making a critical tweak with the right mutators can then further diversify the experience. Everyone being on a level playing field in terms of expectations and experience also helps as some of the issues with control and the camera are at least shared, so nobody gets a particular advantage and it opens the door to just about anyone being the winner potentially. While Party Crashers has some issues with its fundamental underpinnings it can be a blast to enjoy with others, just be mindful that the endless variety offered doesn’t necessarily correspond to everything being playable or consistently fun. However, if you’re diligent you’re likely to find quite a few variations that deliver the unexpected, and that can be tough to find these days.


Score: 6

Pros:
  • A variety of high-level styles of play ranging from aggressive eliminations to tough races to numerous battle mode match-ups
  • When played with friends the odds of having a good time screwing each other over are pretty good
  • The many modes and mutator options open the door to all sorts of experimentation to find the right mix for you and your friends

Cons:
  • In terms of the fundamentals the somewhat inconsistent slippery track and struggles with the camera can be frustrating
  • Not really recommended as a single-player experience at all, the quirks of the game are far more forgivable when everyone is dealing with them in parallel
  • Mixing the wrong mutators will definitely bog down system performance as well as result in the modes roughly being unplayable