Gaming

Warp Drive Review (2022) (Switch Web Store)

Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

Fun fact: if F-Zero GX – the last home console game in Nintendo’s original futuristic racing series – were a human, it would be old enough to vote currently. Indeed it was long away too much time has passed since we got the new F-Zero, which has resulted in copycats filling the void as best they can. Some of them like Fast RMX or Collection WipEout Omega, have done a great job adding their own interpretation of this intense gameplay. Others, like Warp Drive, tinkered a bit with the ball. Warp Drive started out as a mobile game a couple of years ago and has now made its way to the Switch, but don’t let its origins put you off right away. Despite its shortcomings, it’s really nice to spend time here; we just wish it could be more consistent.

While Warp Drive is certainly fast game, we’d say its gameplay has more in common with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe than F-Zero or Fast RMX. While you move at the speed of light along gravity-defying tracks, much of your success depends on how efficiently you can acquire and use items to gain an advantage. Like Mario Kart, there are various points along the track where you can drive through a line of “warp crystals” that will give you an item, although the effect is not random here. You can hold on to each crystal for as long as you want, and each one can be used to launch a rocket, activate a short boost, drop a mine behind you, or teleport you to an alternate route on the track at specific points.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

We appreciated the removal of randomized items as it allows you to be more strategic with your driving and won’t leave you out of luck if you get a bad roll. Everyone has been there in Mario Kart 8 where you desperately need help to hold on to first place, but you end up with a worthless coin from an item box. There’s always something useful here that you can do with your crystals, though we’ve found that their use leaves a lot to be desired. Missiles, for example, can only be launched if you lock an enemy in front of you. Not only is it difficult to lock onto a target on the specific vehicle you want to hit, we’ve also noted many instances where a missile hits a wall and not another vehicle.

The track layouts are a bit uniform, they have layered track designs, and we liked that each course has distinctive themes, although we wish these themes were better integrated into the game mechanics. At different points on the track, you can either activate the boost to go through the fake floor, or a short-range teleport to get to an alternate route. These secondary routes take about the same amount of time to complete on the main path, but are useful for those moments when you get stuck in the middle of a pack and continue to be subject to item explosions, as you can thin out the herd a bit by taking the other path.

The main draw here is the tournament mode, where you play themed sets of four tracks at the same time. After each race, you are given coins and experience points depending on your results. We’re not quite sure what experience points really are do– maybe unlock access to the best items in the shop? – but coins can be spent on a random selection of three upgrades or cosmetics that you can apply to your car. Once you’ve bought it from the store, you own the piece forever and can later trade it in for any other parts you’ve purchased.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

At first, we were a bit worried about this magazine system, as it didn’t give you full control over how the car was built. Perhaps one of the proposed parts somewhat attractive, but you’re never sure if the store’s next round of offerings might have something better that you can’t afford if you buy something now. However, we appreciated how this controlled store approach leaves you guessing and trying out details you might not otherwise consider. Moreover, it does not take what long to unlock all parts anyway.

In addition to the main tournament mode, there are also mission and survival modes. In mission mode, you are faced with tasks such as collecting a certain number of coins in a short time or hitting a certain number of opponents with missiles in one circle. Each track offers its own set of missions to help you become more familiar with their circuits while honing your driving skills, with missions progressively harder as you unlock more.

Survival Mode has you racing on randomly selected tracks, each of which asks you to finish the race in at least a certain location. Surviving each race will earn you coins, and as your winning streak increases, the amount of coins you get will also increase. While these two modes don’t necessarily add any new content, we felt they did add to the experience by introducing some interesting modifiers to the core races. They also serve as a good way to gain experience and coins, which will help you build your parts collection faster.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

Unfortunately, the specifications are not up to par. Warp Drive seems to be aiming for 30fps, but we’ve noticed occasional instances of framerate chugging in every race we’ve entered. This is kind of understandable given how chaotic the action on screen can be, but then the visuals don’t feel right. what advanced for Switch hardware – after all, it was originally a mobile game. Let’s hope the developers find a way to fix these issues in an update; frame hitches aren’t bad enough to ruin the Warp Drive, but they certainly detract from the experience.

These technical problems become especially evident in multiplayer. Although there is no online multiplayer, you can play locally with up to four players in split screen, but the implementation here is mediocre at best. Having only two players is at least a decent and mostly stable experience, but increasing the number of players to three or four results in a significant drop in performance. This is especially disappointing given the sheer potential for a fun competitive experience; what could have been an interesting and cheap alternative to Mario Kart 8 becomes a bad imitation that you don’t want to show your friends.

Despite the technical issues, the Warp Drive presentation still impresses with its vibrant art style. Intense neon colors, bright lighting, and a 90s punk aesthetic all combine to create an incredibly weird world. Whether you’re racing alongside a pirate ship or under the tentacles of a giant squid, each track has some visual spectacle to stand out from the others. All of this is paired with music that mixes rock and hip hop with a range of synths to create a high octane soundtrack that keeps the energy levels high. Warp Drive may be a little disappointing in its performance, but that’s not to say it doesn’t at least impress.

Conclusion

Warp Drive feels like a strong precursor to what could someday be a great sequel. His high-speed, strategic approach to racing is a joy to keep FPS slowdowns out of control, and his art style feels like something really special in the kart racing genre. If it weren’t for a bunch of some important blunders, like awkward item usage or multiplayer instability, this game could have been a real winner. Despite this, we recommend that you purchase this game when the sale is big enough. There’s enough single player content to keep you busy for a while, and even if it’s disappointing, Warp Drive can be pretty fun once you get into it.




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