By Steve Baltimore / January 14th, 2020
|Release Date||December 12th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
I’ve been pretty excited about getting my hands on GENSOU Skydrift for quite a while. A Mario Kart style racer with Touhou characters just seemed like a wonderful idea. When I found some ex-members of the Mario Kart team were working on this it raised my expectations even higher. Let’s see if this one turned out as well as I thought it would.
Arcade modes have a basic story that follows several residents of Gensokyo as they investigate an influx of magic. This magic seems to create several race tracks, and drain a bit of their magic at the same time. They soon realize they can ride on top of each other to conserve magic and the racing begins.
This tale is about as basic as it gets, but there are some funny moments between the characters. Fans of the Touhou universe will pick up on most of these right away. I thought it was pretty awesome there was a secret episode after the main story that allowed you to unlock some new racers as well. One of those being my favorite, the not quite sane Touhou devil!
While GENSOU Skydrift isn’t the most graphically intense title on the Switch, I feel the style fits the game perfectly. The character models are not super detailed, but they are well made. I love the character portraits during the cut scenes and on the character select screen. All of the girls look great and amazingly cute! The environments are where this game really shines. Track locations include the infernos of Hell, a forest, Misty Lave, The Scarlet Devil Mansion Library, the human village, an amusement part and more. Each one of these are very detailed and look great.
The game runs at a very solid framerate and has a wonderful sense of speed. The track design is some of the best you will find in any racing game of this kind. There are plenty of twists and turns to drift around as you fly around each stage. Each one feels very unique and they even throw in some wall racing, jumps and loops to spice up the action. Some tracks like the Sea of Tranquility and the Voile Library will take you a few attempts to figure the best way around them. If you look hard enough you might even find a few shortcuts here and there.
The soundtrack for the game is provided by a couple of Touhou music circles that I’m sure most fans have heard of. These circles are SOUND HOLIC and StarDrops. Tracks include remixes of such Touhou classics as Cirno’s theme “Tomboyish Girl in Love” and one of my personal favorites, Remilia’s “Sepette for a Dead Princess.” There are even some funny quips about each track when you check them out in the in game gallery. No voice acting to speak of in this one, and while there is nothing special about the sound effects, they get the job done.
Gameplay here is pretty straightforward. You will pick two racers that you can switch back and forth between during the race so long as the ready gauge is filled. Each girl has different advantages and disadvantages, for example Reimu isn’t the fastest racer but she has great handing and drifts really well. Remilia on the other hand has a ton of speed but will fly off the track pretty easily since she cannot turn tight corners. Going through glowing gates on the track will fill up your spell meter or give you a slight boost. Just like in Mario Kart it will spin through several different perks you could get. These can range from something to attack other racers with to the girls unique spell card.
Each girl has their own unique spell card as well. These are ultra powerful spells that can bring you back from the depths of defeat pretty easily. If you have played any other Touhou games you can guess what most of these are, but here are couple of examples. Suika will grow large and become invisible, Sakuya will stop time for 6 seconds and Futo gains 16 bombs! This is yet another factor when deciding which two racer team would suit your play style best.
Game modes are the only area I feel GENSOU Skydrift is kind of lacking. The game does feature 16 tracks you can blaze through in campaign mode. There are versus modes for up to 4 player locally or you can play with your friends online. CPU racers is also an option if you have no friends around and cannot be online at the time. There are a few modifiers that can be used during online races, but adding some more of these to spice up the mix would be very welcome.
I have to say overall I had a great time with GENSOU Skydrift. The racing was fast, fluid and just a lot of fun. The graphics and artwork are outstanding. The game runs at a solid framerate no matter if the Switch is docked or in handheld mode. I polished off the campaign mode in just a few hours, but I spent about 4 or 5 more playing around on all the tracks with friends and CPU racers. The $23.99 price tag might seem a little steep, but this is a quality racing game. If you’re a Touhou fan I think you will find a lot to love here, and if you’re a racing fan looking for a solid title this might just be your cup of tea as well.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.