When Gotcha Racing arrived on the 3DS back in 2015 it received particular praise for its simple pick-and-play setup, the unexpected depth dictated by luck of the virtual Gashapon car parts and that moreish Micro Machines-esque gameplay. Three years later and on new hardware, will lighting strike twice as Gotcha Racing 2nd floors it for the gold?
Controlling your car could not be simpler: ‘A’ accelerates, ‘B’ brakes and ‘Y’ will annoy your fellow driver with the horn. Knowing how to properly brake and accelerate in order to make your car drift is the single most important skill you will need to ensure some proper racing times among the more curvy circuits from the 16 on offer. The action button is a new addition to the series. Hitting ‘X’ will execute your current chassis special action (assuming you have one at all). These charging abilities usually give you some sort of momentary advantage over your opponents, but come with a special penalty to balance things out. For example, your car might come with a speed boost that will greatly increase your top speed for a moment, but then penalise you during the recharge period with a 40% top speed penalty.
Now consider there are no less than 700 different cars parts that you can get from dropping your earnings in the game’s virtual gacha machines. These are divided into body, engine and tires (all of them in common and rare variants). This offers an incredible amount of combinations and variations on top speed, acceleration, cornering, drift and brake values, along with the new action command. You will constantly be taking on ‘just one more race’ so you can try your luck at getting a new part or a new chassis. You probably already figured this out already, but we'll go on record as saying Gotcha Racing 2nd is insanely addictive.
A very welcome addition to this sequel is the brand new local multiplayer. Just like overhead racing games of old, adding other human players to the racing procedure will never fail to live things up and that much is certainly true here. You can split the screen with up to three other players and race any of the 16 circuits available in the single-player championship, play single-screen mini-courses that will bring further nostalgic memories of classics such as Super Sprint of Super Off-Road or even play a sort of battle royal mode where you get to spin-attack opponents out of bounds. Nintendo Switch is a perfect fit for this sort of local multiplayer mayhem and this game certainly nails the party aspect of play right from the pole position.
The tracks are cars are nicely rendered in 3D polygons, allowing for not only for some impressively smooth scrolling, but also some very nice details and perspective camera angles of all the action. Of course, Switch doesn't have the same amount of vertical space as it was offered by the previous game’s double-screen 3DS setup, and this is mitigated not only with three camera distances (which you can switch on the fly with the ‘RZ’ button), but the ability to switch the racing screen to TATE. Music is adequate and the sound effects do a lovely job of making those engines roar properly.
Despite all of these positive aspects, the core gameplay remains locked to the genre’s tropes; if you're not a fan of overhead racing games, it is doubtful this package will change your mind about it. Online multiplayer is sadly locked to leader boards where you can compete for the best times on all 16 circuits against the whole world (or at least the rest of Switch owners all over the globe). Having online racing lobbies such as the ones present in Mantis Burn Racing would have been a welcome addition, but this is perhaps something to be revisited in a possible future entry in the series.
Gotcha Racing 2nd is an incredible slice of generous retro racing content with hidden depths; one you can play for two minutes or two hours and always have incredible fun while at it. There is no single winning car combination so you will constantly keep coming back to get new parts and customise your four different designs in order to shave off seconds in the Grand Prix tracks and the game might even turn out to become a party favourite with your friends. Additive, fun and bursting with content for a sensible price we can’t but unquestionably recommend this second outing of overhead racing extravaganza even if you missed out on the first game. As for us, off we go to the gacha machine... again...