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[Consol Games] Warp Drive Review (Switch eShop)


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Fun fact: if F-Zero GX the last home console game in Nintendo’s seminal futuristic racing series were a person, they would be old enough to vote now. Indeed, it’s been far too long since we’ve gotten a new F-Zero, which has led to copycats filling the void as best as they can. Some of these, like Fast RMX or WipEout Omega Collection, have done a great job of adding their own spin on that intense gameplay. Others, like Warp Drive, have fumbled the ball a bit. Warp Drive started as a mobile game a couple of years ago and now has made its way onto the Switch, but don’t let its origins immediately turn you off. Despite its shortcomings, there’s a genuinely enjoyable time to be had here; we only wish it could be more consistent.

Though Warp Drive is certainly a fast game, we would say that its gameplay has more in common with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe than it does with F-Zero or Fast RMX. Though you’re moving at lightspeed through gravity-defying courses, much of your success hinges on how effectively you can acquire and use items to give yourself an edge. Much like in Mario Kart, there are various points on the track where you can drive over a line of ‘warp crystals’ that will give you an item, though here the effect is not random. You can hold onto each crystal as long as you want, and each one can be used to either launch a missile, activate a short boost, drop a mine behind you, or teleport you to an alternate route on the track at specific points.


We appreciated the removal of the randomized items as it allows you to take a more strategic approach to driving and doesn’t leave you out of luck if you get a bad roll. Everyone’s been there in Mario Kart 8 where you desperately need help holding down first place, but get a useless coin from an item box. Here, there’s always something useful you can do with your crystals, although we found that their application leaves a little bit to be desired. The missiles, for example, can only be fired if you’ve locked onto an enemy in front of you. Not only is it difficult to lock on to target the specific car you want to hit, but we noted many instances where firing the missile crashed into the wall instead of another car.

Track layouts are a little homogenous, they do have a multi-tiered track design, and we enjoyed how each course had distinctive themes, though we wish these themes were integrated better as gameplay mechanics. At various points in a track, you can choose to either trigger a boost to go through a false floor or a short-range teleport to take you to an alternate route. These secondary routes take about as much time to traverse as the primary path, but they’re useful for those moments when you’re stuck in the middle of the pack and keep getting blasted by items, as you can thin out the herd a bit by taking another way.


The main draw of the experience here is the tournament mode, which sees you going through themed bundles of four tracks at a time. After each race, you’re then given coins and experience points according to your performance. We’re not really sure what the experience points actually do maybe unlocking access to better things in the shop? but the coins can be spent to randomly selects three upgrades or cosmetics you can apply to your car. Once you’ve bought it in the shop, you then own that part forever and can later swap it with any other parts you’ve acquired.


At first, we were a little bothered by this shop system, as it doesn’t give you full control over how to build your car. Maybe one of the parts on offer is somewhat appealing, but you’re never sure if the next round of shop offerings might have something better that you won’t be able to afford if you buy something now. Still, we appreciated how this controlled approach to the shop keeps you guessing and makes you try out parts you otherwise might not have considered. Plus, it doesn’t take that long to unlock all the parts anyway.

In addition to the core tournament mode, there are also mission and survival modes. Mission mode tasks you with objectives like collecting a certain number of coins in a tight time window or hitting a specific number of rivals with missiles within a single lap. Each track has its own suite of missions on offer, which helps familiarize you more with their layouts while sharpening your driving skills, and the missions progressively get more difficult as you unlock more.


The Den Win GIF by MillwallFC

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