Originally released back in 2016 for mobile devices, Onteca and Applaud Productions’ Space Ribbon made its way to the Switch in 2018. A space-themed and futuristic racer with split-screen support, the selling point of the game is the procedurally created tracks.
Simple to pick up and play (like a mobile game should be) but with a surprising amount of depth. There are two main modes of gameplay, career mode and free play.
The former has you race through 16 different cups where the requirements for completion vary. While the latter is where the replay value comes from. It’s there where you can customise many elements such as track length, curves, obstacles power-ups, number of opponents, gravity and more.
It’s a lot of content in a game that also has a bright, imaginative and colourful look. However, its core gameplay mechanic makes for a flawed experience. A mechanic that makes it far less fun and at times, frustrating.
This mechanic relates to slipstreams indicated by a blue stream that comes from behind vehicles. Drift and drive into the stream which raises your boost and allows you reach max speed for a period of time. However, your opponents can also do the same with your slipstream resulting in a constant battle to stay in front.
The issue with this is there is no benefit to getting in front early on in a race. There’s no stopping an opponent using your slipstream and in races where there are no powerups, it means you’re sure to lose your first place in an instant. There’s nothing more frustrating then leading a race only to lose it at the last minute even though you’re driving has been impeccable.
It’s a very flawed idea and hurt even more by the disappointing drift system. While not out-right broken, when using wheel-based cars, drifting has no weight and often just ends up with you unable to turn properly. It works better with the other type of vehicle, jetcars.
Over time, you will get used to what the game requires you to do to stay in front. Slipstreams and drifting, but you’ll not be able to shake off the feeling that it could have been far better than it is.
The Final Score - 6/10