By Makeda Byfield
While Nintendo fans around the world anxiously anticipated the release of mobile Mario Kart, I re-downloaded what could be considered the game’s distant peppy cousin: Beach Buggy Racing. Mario Kart had too many issues downloading onto my phone and I needed a game to keep me occupied on my train rides home from school. After getting my siblings into the now six-year-old game and playing through every single mode at least three times, I have some things to say about this virtual racing experience.
For starters, the game needed something special if it wanted me to play past the first couple rounds of races. Mobile racing games have been done before (dare I say, almost endlessly). What will make Beach Buggy captivating? The first thing that stood out to me was the characters. We start the game with one character, Rez, and one car, the Beach Buggy. The wild-eyed Rez and his Beach Buggy are classic, there’s no denying that. But you’ll find that the old buggy can’t keep up with the updated cars. You need to level up.
Placing in races played in the career mode allows us to earn coins; these coins can be used to update your car or buy one of the other seven cars available in the shop. Advancing in the career mode also gives racers the chance to race a boss character in a one-on-one battle. Our prize for beating said character: unlocking them and adding them to our crew. Each new character offers a special skill that we are allowed to use once per race. For example, Leilani leaves a trail of flowers that stuns all racers behind her, McSkully is able to move through solids, and B’zorp can swap places with the racer in front of him. This personalization of each character gives us a unique boost in each race, which adds to the game in a way I’ve never experienced before.
Another added bonus for gamers on-the-go is that the first version of this game doesn’t require an internet connection in order for you to play. This worked perfectly for me, considering the fact that I usually played while I was underground on a subway train for three hours each day. If you don’t mind playing alone and racing against bots, this is the game for you!
That being said, I must detail the not-so-desirable aspects of the game when bringing up the good. While there is a multiplayer option available, my siblings and I found it incredibly difficult to access. If the game is rated 12+, shouldn’t it be simple enough for a 12-year-old to understand? I’ll give the creators the benefit of the doubt and say that I just wasn’t a bright child (Editor’s Note: she was!), which resulted in me not being able to play the game in multiplayer as intended. Still, there are some issues that don’t revolve around any inability to understand. The game does feel a little repetitive when I’m only allowed to play by myself; I quickly got bored and frustrated with the game because I wanted more than just the same tracks we play on over and over again.
In less drastic news, the tracks are ok. I don’t think they’re anything special, whereas Mario Kart has some classic standouts (hey, you’re gonna get some comparisons when making games that are so similar!) Most tracks have hidden shortcuts and Easter eggs for you to discover. This might interest you if you want to do practice mode and learn the way of the track before jumping into a championship or career mode.
With all this in mind, I’ll leave it up to you to decide if this game is worth a try. I think that the game served the purpose that I gave to it – keeping me occupied when I couldn’t do anything else. Who knows? I’ll probably re-download the game if I find myself taking the train again sometime soon. But I think I’ll stick to Mario Kart while I’m above ground.
Makeda Byfield is a Bronx high school senior majoring in drama. She is our newest NYVGCC writing intern, and this is her first review for the Circle.