In order to very quickly condense exactly what kind of motorcycle sim RiMS Racing is, consider this: There are over 500 fully licenced vehicle parts in this game and just eight actual bikes. This isn't a sleight on Raceward Studio's game, far from it, the eight bikes here are very obviously authentically detailed and lovingly crafted, it's just more of a pointer as to what kind of experience you should be expecting once you dive in here.
RiMS Racing is all about providing an almost staggeringly in-depth take on the maintenance, fine-tuning and constant upgrading and care that's just as much part and parcel of real-life motorsports as blasting down the track doing wheelies for the fans. If you're looking for a game that lets you investigate and change every aspect of the machine you're riding — one that constantly requires you to get under the hood and tinker — this is the one for you. Or at least it would be, if this Switch port wasn't so disappointingly rough.
Yes, unfortunately, as much as this game expects precision, attention to detail in every facet of your preparation for a race and exacting skills once you're on the tarmac, this particular version is let down at almost every turn by technical shortcomings that make it nigh on impossible to enjoy once you hit the track.
However, before we get into where it falls short, let's take a look at what it gets right. Even for someone who's not an ultra-obsessive petrolhead, there's something very immediately impressive and genuinely interesting about the level of detail Raceward Studio has brought to this game. The nerd in us couldn't help but want to tunnel deep into the complexities of tuning, fixing, buying, selling and constantly replacing and upgrading here.
Every single aspect of the bike you've chosen to ride, from its wipers to its seat, suspension, calipers, cylinders, brakepads... everything is presented for close examination here and can be manipulated, checked, improved, fixed and meddled with to your heart's content. Further to this, you don't just choose things from a menu and have them instantly fixed up or changed. Oh no, here you indulge in little QTEs, rotating your thumbsticks, pressing combinations of buttons and various directions in order to unscrew, lift off, rotate and replace. In the pits during races, too, you'll need to work these QTEs as quickly as possible in order to get fixed up and back on the track pronto. It's engaging — albeit repetitive — stuff that makes you feel as though you're really getting stuck in, hands thick with grease and dirt, as you vie for victory.
There's an involving campaign mode to get stuck into that sees you choose a team and bike and engage in various events, races and championships as you work with your camp to keep on top of the mechanical side of your machine, ensuring it's always giving you optimal performance, an academy and private testing areas for you to get to grips with every aspect of how to control your bike on the track, an online mode and single shot races. Plenty to get stuck into then.
We haven't mentioned how it plays on the track yet though, and that's mostly because the actual racing parts of RiMS Racing often feel like an afterthought, unless you choose to spend your time in the single race mode. Indeed, the simulation of tinkering and tuning here is all-encompassing, which is fine — it's what this game is all about. Once you do get out on the track though... well, it's messy.
This Switch port has seen the obligatory downgrading of graphics from its next-gen counterparts, and in this case these downgrades heap misery onto the player as they attempt to navigate the various real-world locations on offer. The resolution is blurry, textures are basic, the draw distance is poor, pop-in is rampant and anti-aliasing all but non-existent. These problems are then further exacerbated when you attempt to play in portable, where it becomes a real struggle.
Combined these shortcomings result in racing that's hard on the eyes over prolonged sessions. It's tough to see what's coming down the track as objects pop-in suddenly and the road ahead breaks up and fuses with scenery into a bit of a pixelated mess. It's better docked, but still far from ideal. The frame rate, too, whilst relatively okay when you're solo on the road, tends to really suffer when there's other racers around — which is to say all the time in career mode. Weather effects also put a very obvious strain on performance here and so you're left trying to ride as perfectly as possible into tricky corners, under pressure from dullard AI, as the frame rate stutters and throws you out of your groove. Honestly, we're not sure we've ever crashed out as many times in any racing game we've ever played.
And so, what you're left with is a title that tasks you with spending a mountain of your time prepping, practicing and preparing, only to expect to you to race with real skill against technical shortcomings that make it almost impossible. Stick the difficulty down to beginner, knock the braking over to combined mode and turn the physics to their lowest level and you'll stay on your bike at least, maybe even get around a corner in decent shape, but at any other level it's truly punishing stuff that, on Switch, just isn't worth the investment or frustration.
In the end, what RiMS Racing attempts to achieve is admirable. It's a game we're interested to play on more powerful hardware and something we can see a certain type of gamer getting plenty out of, just not in the state in which it's arrived on Nintendo's console. This is a poor port, a frustrating, messy game once you hit the track, and a motorbike experience that pales in comparison to its nearest competitors on Switch.
RiMS Racing is a super complex motorcycle sim that provides players with a ton of depth in terms of tinkering, tuning and customising. However, once on the track, this Switch port is let down badly by performance issues that make it a frustrating, messy experience. There's definitely a market for this type of in-depth motorbike action on Nintendo's console but, in this state, it's very hard to recommend diving into this particular offering.