Wednesday, January 23

Review: FutureGrind [Nintendo Switch eShop]

If you’re someone who has always enjoyed a taste of stunting and extreme sports-style action so far the Switch lineup has been a bit lacking. With the likes of the Tony Hawk games pretty thoroughly dead and the one snowboarding game we’ve had being more style than substance there hasn’t been anything that really scratches that itch for acrobatic tricks and risky stunts… until now. FutureGrind has quietly arrived on the eShop and is not only is it unique in the Switch lineup, it also offers up gameplay not quite like anything I’ve played to date.

Probably the closest game I could compare it to, though only in its more limited stunt segments, would be Uniracers back on the SNES. One part endless runner and another part crazy stunts in each stage your first goal will be to merely survive the track, following some very specific but easy to understand rules. First and foremost the rule is that the wheel that makes contact with a surface must match its color or you’ll explode, and if you hit a segment of white track you’ll survive but sacrifice your combo multiplier. Beyond that it’s all about doing flips and a variety of types of grinds to drive up your multiplier and complete mission-specific objectives.

As you progress not only will the tracks become more demanding but your vehicle will continue to change as well, possessing different properties that continue to layer on challenges. Whether that’s you wheels being different sizes and a bit out of balance or even one that changes colors whenever you land on it. With each new track your first goal will be to familiarize yourself with the layout, trying your best to rack up a great score. From there you’ll then have a challenge or two that will push you to continue to show more skill, whether that be reaching a specific combo multiplier, pulling off a number of more complicated grinds, or doing a specific type of flip somewhere along the course. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to safely complete the track once you’ve met your objective so as the game wears on this can get tough.

Aside from this potentially not being in everyone’s wheelhouse (pause for dad joke groan) there’s really not much else to have as a complaint. The controls are relatively simple and work well, success or failure really does come down to the quality of your execution the majority of the time. If it weren’t for the ever-changing properties of the bikes you ride on the dozens of tracks you ride on would have gotten more stale but it’s rare you’re really able to get comfortable at the rate things are thrown at you so it manages to stay pretty fresh throughout. Though you’ll die a ton no time is wasted and you’ll immediately start right back up without any real pause, keeping you in the zone and focused on action. I’d say my only comment would be the framework of a story that’s included is fine but odd, with there being just enough to grab your eye but also so thin that I’m not positive it was worth including. It’s just sort of there and doesn’t really change the game experience.

All in all FutureGrind is a terrific surprise and after some disappointments in this sort of extreme sports area its great to finally have a game that sticks the landing. There may be times where it makes you want to throw your controller when you’ve managed to get a great combo meter going but then blow it down the stretch but when you’re in the zone it can be extremely satisfying. Possibly most crucially there’s never a long pause as the track loads or resets, the emphasis is always keeping you on the track and having fun. I’d love to see a sequel that throws in even more craziness and variety but for now FutureGrind takes the trophy for the best game of its kind on the system.

Score: 9

  • Tight and accurate controls, meaning every failure is on you
  • There’s never any significant pause in the action, after every failure you’ll be right back at the start and ready to go again
  • Forces you to tackle pretty well every crazy type of stunt for an objective at some point

  • In terms of tricks that can be done there’s only a finite number to work with so objectives tend to get repetitive even if the challenge on any given track varies
  • The story is just developed enough that I wonder why more wasn’t done with it, its inclusion is somewhat benign in the end