If the name wasn’t already enough of an indication, Rally Racers is – for most parts – your run of the mill arcade racing game. You speed around a collection of themed tracks firing an array of weapons at opponents while trying to win each and every race. Following long-running traditions ingrained within the genre, Rally Racers includes an extensive line-up of drivers. Rather than a star cast featuring notable personalities, this one has fictional rugby players teaming up with animal companions. Each vehicle has room for a driver and a companion. While the premise might sound oddly similar to Mario Kart: Double Dash!! – by no means are the mechanics as effectively used. The driver has upgradable stats and the companion selected provides you with special powers such as enhanced shields and more stunt points. Apart from that, there’s no ingenious weapon or driver management necessarily required during a race.
The in-game physics are probably the most blatant deal breaker. Most of the vehicles have the turning circle of a truck, with the controls feeling sluggish and non-responsive in contrast to more superior arcade racing games. Input delays are only heightened by a choppy framerate during more intensive moments and the uninspired visuals further highlight these problems. A drift mechanic has been implemented, but as with most aspects of the vehicle physics – you’re unlikely to actually enjoy performing this manoeuvre. Even as a genuine strategy, you’re better off isolating directional movement to the analog stick in an attempt to stay on course. You can upgrade the stats of vehicles yet this inexplicably makes the experience less tolerable. The items – including canons and rockets – have standard functions such as providing your vehicle with a temporary boost or obliterating rival racers (though there's no sense of satisfaction when a weapon is a direct hit on an opponent).
Interwoven into this monotonous racing affair are a lot of questionable design choices. The game does not include a standard grand prix mode. The only option is a quest mode. In this mode, players travel around a map completing levels (in the form of races) with each one having specific requirements that must be accomplished in order to progress to the next level. Commonly, these requirements include placing in a certain position or higher, performing some tricks and collecting a set amount of oranges on each track. Managing all this while trying to compete can be difficult at times. In between these races are boss battles – presumably inspired by the likes of Diddy Kong Racing. Again though, like the rest of the game, these one on one encounters fail to provide any sense of fun – with the task being to follow the rival racer until you eventually overtake them and win. Collectively, there's nothing thrilling about any of the scenarios or challenges.
The stat management included shows potential, but is held back by the dismal in-game racing physics. All of these upgradable aspects are tied to two currencies – coins and gems. Coins are gained from completing objectives and enable you to purchase new companions, rides, paint jobs and improve vehicle stats. Gems, on the other hand, unlock new drivers. It’s hard to appreciate the differences on-track, as the racing physics are so poorly executed. One way to get AI off your back is by buying more drivers. With each driver you purchase teaming up with you – not that it’s all that noticeable. Generally, the AI in this game goes from one extreme to the next. You’ll either find yourself out the front of the small pack of racers or struggling to work your way out of last place.
The track design further detracts from the enjoyment, with each course feeling drawn out. Each track tends to include dangers such as canons as well as boost sections and jumps - sadly, these don't make races any more exciting. Each of the seven racing worlds house multiple circuits – with each one barely having any unique differences. Visually speaking, the graphics do nothing to improve the title. The environment, characters and basic cartoon-like aesthetics look incredibly simple, with a lot of the 3D models on par with a bad mobile game or console title from a few decades ago. The sound is equally as underwhelming, with noises that fail to satisfy when you crash or hit an opponent with an item. The music on offer is repetitive with generic upbeat songs that will encourage you to press mute a few laps in.
Rally Racers is far from being a role model arcade racer. The overall racing experience falls flat on its face primarily due to the cheap and nasty in-game physics that make the vehicles handle like trucks. The other notable design flaw is the fact you are limited to a quest mode. There is no standalone grand prix, time trial or even multiplayer. You’re stuck in a linear mode where you must accomplish a series of tasks before you can progress to the next level. All of these factors combined completely suck the life of what is normally a fun type of game to play. Adding to this is bland track design, amateur visuals and sounds, a bumpy frame rate from time to time and prolonged loading times of close to a minute to top it off. If you’re looking for an affordable racing game on the Switch eShop, there are better options available.