My first time playing Rise: Race the Future, I was annoyed, frustrated, and on the verge of putting the game off as a bad job. First impressions were not great. I did a little reading about the game while I waited for the download, and I heard good things. Apparently, the game was a mash-up of Ridge Racer and other old-school arcade games. And, seeing as Ridge Racer has been left to die, I’m happy to try anything that bears even a passing resemblance. Just not Xenon Racer. That game is an actual turd.
So, my first race and I was optimistic. The graphics looked decent in handheld mode, and the presentation in the menus inspired confidence that this wasn’t just a budget release. Then I got to racing, crashed into a wall, and then turned the air blue.
The controls are fine and the physics are sound enough, but this game is not kind to any mistake you make. If you’re an error-prone racer, you’re going to have to get good. One slip and you’ll be smashing the side of the track while everyone else blasts past you. You can try to catch up but you’re better off just restarting the race and saving your time.
It took me a little while to get a feel for the game’s physics, but once I did, it clicked. I was throwing my car’s arse around big corners with ease, but still with a little caution, and I figured out that using the boost button – you gain boost either by driving fast or drifting – can be used for more than a kick of speed.
Rise: Race the Future’s gimmick is that it takes place in a future where it’s normal for the wheels of racing cars to tuck under the body when driven over a body of water, a bit like a hovercraft. This is where the handling gets really tricky, with the controls fighting you all the way. Go too fast and you run the risk of hitting a turn the wrong way and losing yourself to last place, but with the right usage of the boost button, you can turn even the dirtiest turn in your favour. It takes a bit of time, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be doing it without a second thought.
As far as comparisons go to Ridge Racer and “other arcade racers”, it’s definitely more towards “other arcade racers” than the former. And while I’m a massive Ridge Racer fan and would love nothing more than to see a decent knock-off, Rise: Race the Future isn’t the one. And that’s because it’s not trying to be a direct knock-off of anything. Instead, it borrows elements from the greats and comes up as a fairly good racing game with lengthy championships to complete, as well as a ton of challenges to unlock new cars.
One downside is that the tracks all kind of blur together after a while. The tracks are interesting enough and offer a decent variety of races, the locales are uninspired, and there’s plenty of re-using the same track but with different weather, mirrored, or sectioned off to create a new track out of the original. Fair enough – squeeze what you can out of what you have, but the lack of futuristic settings is disappointing. I’d have loved to have seen a bit more inspiration from Ridge Racer in this department more than anything.
There’s no online multiplayer here, which is a shame, but there is a brand new split-screen mode, which I’ll get to in just a second. First, a little bit about the technicals.
Rise: Race the Future has two performance profiles for you to choose from, depending on what matters most to you. There’s 60fps mode which bumps up the frame rate to a smoother and reasonably well-hit 60fps, but this does affect the graphics. There’s a lot more stair-stepping on cars and a little less detail on the tracks. That being said, it’s the mode I prefer, because you just can’t beat 60fps in a racing game.
The other is 30fps with better graphics. The graphical difference isn’t too striking but the feel of the game definitely is. Going from 60 to 30 is jarring, but I did eventually warm to it, though not entirely out of choice.
These performance modes are only available in docked mode. If you want to play in handheld or tabletop mode, you’ll be locked to 30fps, and to be honest, it’s good enough for gaming on the go. Not that I’ve been going anywhere… but still, for a handheld game, I’m happy with 30.
If you want to play split-screen with another player – you can use one set of Joy-Con controllers for two players, a la Mario Kart – you’re stuck to 30fps mode, handheld and docked. Again, this is a compromise to keep play smooth while you punch and jab your other half for causing you to spin out. I don’t punch and jab, but my other half does, and she’s mean and I need to be saved. Jokes aside, split-screen mode isn’t going to drastically change the game and I suspect most would prefer online play, but in a pinch? Yeah, why not? It’s got to be better than playing the same races on Mario Kart 8 for the thousandth time…
For the asking price, Rise: Race the Future is a really good proposition: an arcade racer with great graphics, decent gameplay, local multiplayer, and some nice options for players who want them. And at a very fair price, too. What more could you want?
Rise: Race the Future Nintendo Switch Review
Rise: Race the Future isn’t just a budget-friendly racer, it’s a decent budget-friendly racer. With plenty to do and a new split-screen multiplayer mode, there’s enough here to keep you busy for a long while. But with the repetitive challenges and tracks, whether you’ll last that long is down to you.
- Looks great no matter how you choose to play
- Car handling is difficult, but tweakable, and once you get it, you get it
- A bunch of lengthy championships and even more challenges through “seasons” will keep you playing for a long time
- Handling is difficult to get to grips with at first, and this could put off some players
- As a fan of The Killers, I hate to say it, but the game needs more electro-techno music to really nail that arcade feel
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Nintendo Switch handheld and docked modes.