Racing games have always been split down the middle between realistic simulators and crazy arcade bonanzas. Recently, the genre has been driving towards realism than arcade, combined with the sad fact that couch co-op and split screen gameplay is left to rust, were only left with remakes of Mario Kart and Team Sonic Racing, which I wouldn’t want to subject you guys to. For more details see Darren’s Review on Team Sonic Racing at EGX.
But I digress – Space Ribbon is heading on the right track, with an interesting twist on the standard arcade racers we are used to, bringing back a lot of features that we have missed from the days of old.
Liverpool, UK based developers have worked hard on the 1 out of 3 games they developed and released for Early Access. At EGX, we spoke to Jane Davis; Producer and Marketer, and 3D Artist Simon Pemberton about Space Ribbon to find out what makes it unique.
Although there isn’t a real storyline in place, it seems that they have one to justify the madness that ensues within each race. This is an excerpt from their website:
“The year is 2132.
In the far reaches of the galaxy, gigantic space creatures have been discovered.
Creatures that vomit solid matter out of their mouths. Solid matter that is the
perfect substance to drive beat up cars in a race to enter the creature’s mouth.”
Sounds mental right? Believe me, it looks as crazy as it sounds.
Gameplay and Features
Let’s start simple before we dive into ‘WTF’ mode. Nearly if not all races are in space, the clue is sort of in the name on that one. Each car is different and carries different stats, ranging from handling, speed, toughness, ect. Game modes also vary from standard races to tournament style racing, taking part in multiple races in an attempt to win overall on top.
I’m a huge fan of arcade games that feature power ups, so I’m happy to say this game has them included. Rockets and triple rockets can eliminate players getting away from you, although locking onto players to launch them takes too long, by then you’ve either crashed, passed them or they’ve scooted off ahead of you. Shields help defend against rocket attacks, and a power up called Ghost allows you to drive through vehicles and also breaks anything locked into you. I only saw these 3 abilities to start with, either it was my luck or that’s all that is available at this time. Either way I definitely think more abilities need to be thrown into the chaos.
The driving mechanic itself is good, but a little bizarre, and takes a little bit getting used to. Best way to play is speed up and draft behind other cars to gain the upper hand, and just release the throttle to go around the corners. That’s it. If you try to drift, you will fly off of the edge, and it takes what feels like an eternity to get back on the track. The drifting feature definitely needs work; you so much as begin to skid the car acts like a shopping trolley on a freshly polished marble floor, just complete and utter loss of control.
Onto what makes this particular racer unique. It took me a while to notice at first, but all is revealed to you when your hard charging ahead in first place. The track is randomly generated in front of you; spewed out of the mouth of a giant animal head. Whoever reaches the head first wins, and stops the track from generating any further. It’s a really clever feature, as it means that tracks are always different, not predictable and therefore challenging. The way this could be improved, perhaps, is either changing the speed of how quickly the ‘animal head’ creates the track, or perhaps the track-creating flying head has moments of erratic behaviour, in which the generated track takes a dramatic turn, pushing drivers to the limits.
Other features the game is bringing to the party, is split screen and couch co-op. The game is multiplayer and online as well, but having the split screen option is always fantastic to have if you’re a bit of a social nugget.
A little basic, but wonderfully colourful. Space Ribbon is bright and beautiful. It bursts with colour which literally shouts at your face “This game is the nuts!” Or words to that effect. It could improve a little on the detailing of the roads themselves and possible on the vehicles we use too, just the little details that could make a big impact on how the game looks.
If the game is released more across all consoles, I’d most likely buy it. It’s always nice having the choice and knowing this game can be played split screen, but is it enough to bring back couch co-op arcade racers from the brink of extinction? Maybe not alone, but it’s definitely a start.
Space Ribbon is available for the Nintendo Switch and Early Access on the Steam store. Once fully released, may see it spread to all consoles and platforms.