Friday, January 18

Review: Old School Racer 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

If you’re into games that can make you want to rip your hair out at times you may be familiar with the Trials series. Sort of defining its own racing sub-genre, Trials challenges you to manage momentum, angles, and timing to make your way through a series of pretty maddening courses, with an emphasis on precision and technique. For the most part Old School Racer uses that same base but then, pretty quickly, changes things up a bit with reversed gravity, morphing tracks, and some variety in your rides as you unlock things, showing some flair of its own.

When hitting each course past the first few that are more straightforward you typically need to be mindful of whether your goal is to go for time or to find the 3 tokens hidden randomly about. In order to gain access to some spots you’ll need to meet a threshold of a certain number, though generally this isn’t an unreasonable amount. Going for time you’ll really need to get the feel for the flow of the stage, your vehicle of choice, and how to take every hill effectively if you want to get top scores. Once you’ve completed a collection of stages and if you have enough tokens you’ll then be able to tackle a set of competitive races and if you place in the Top 3 you’ll gain access to a new vehicle.

In general considering this is a budget title it has quite a lot going for it and continues to surprise. Perhaps if you’re looking for something a bit more “realistic” and grounded the things like reversed gravity and other craziness will be a deal breaker but for me it kept things from getting stale. Throw in the morphing stages, which you can sometimes trigger yourself as well (though, admittedly, this is a usually a bit awkward with timing) and it’s typically a roller coaster ride of sorts. It’s possible that this helps mask what can feel like a lack of refined technique in the controls, trying to trim seconds can be aggravating when ghosts or other racers on the same vehicle edge ahead of you for no apparent reason, but if you don’t mind some repetition it’s not too bad for the most part.

While Old School Racer 2 isn’t going to blow anyone away, considering its budget-friendly price it provides quite a lot of challenging and unexpected content spanning 60 races with a load of vehicles that all perform differently. Since progress isn’t impeded by you failing to get great times on typical tracks, only the cups themselves really force you to buckle down and perform consistently, for the most part there’s also generally not a ton of pressure put on you and you’re able to move around and perhaps just decide to shoot for a better time when you get a better ride. It’s by no means perfect, but it does have some personality and helps fill a currently under-represented niche on the system.

Score: 7.5

  • A mix of technical challenge and track-morphing, reversed-gravity craziness
  • Multiple vehicle unlocks that all perform differently
  • A very budget-friendly price

  • If you’re looking for a straight technical Trials-esque challenge this deviates pretty far from that mold
  • In order to get the best times sometimes luck feels like it plays a more consistent role than straight technique
  • This style of game isn’t for everyone