BAFL – Brakes Are For Losers Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Release Date: April 19th 2018
Price as of Article: $4.99 USD, £4.49 GBP
Game code provided by publisher for review
Brakes Are For Losers is a top-down racing game from Plug in Digital and Playdius. Plug in Digital has had a variety of games released for the Nintendo Switch and this is yet another cheap, cheerful game to add to that. But does the price come at a cost of the quality? Let’s find out.
As you would expect for a game of this kind and price point, the story is nonexistent. There is a single player campaign but it is bereft of anything story wise.
The sound of the game is a bit of a high point. There’s an eclectic mix of different genre’d upbeat tracks to listen to while screeching around each race course. It’s all of decent quality too which is probably not what you would expect when initially coming into the game. Saying that, the music on the title screen is a horrific mess of noise which gives you a bad initial impression. The sound effects are a little less impressive as they definitely come across as a bit stock and flat. Not bad overall though.
Visuals & Performance
The game is on the simple side when it comes to the graphics. That comes with the territory for the genre. You don’t see too many top-down racers with detail in them. Even games like Mantis Burn Racing that went for the realism look lacked detail. The cartoony nature is pleasing on the eyes if a little on the bland side, lacking any kind of personality that you’d hope to find in a whacky racing game. At the end of each race the camera tends to zoom in a lot which unfortunately shows off the low resolution of the assets the game has.
Performance wise I didn’t see too much of an issue. There was often a small jolt or two in every race where a frame may have been missed or it seemed like the game was loading or something, either way it was noticeable but didn’t really affect anything important.
The gameplay is reaching back to older, classic racing games as it’s in a top-down perspective. It’s definitely in the realm of something like RC Pro-Am although this is straight down rather than from an isometric viewpoint. I’m sure games like these will resonate well with plenty of you old school gamers out there.
While not every game needs to boast some sort of gimmick, Brakes Are For Losers definitely does – and it’s in the title. There are no brakes at all. In an even bigger twist, there’s no acceleration either. Your car moves forward automatically and all you need to do is concentrate on turning. It’s different for sure, although I’m not particularly sure how interesting it is overall.
There’re a few other things thrown into the mix from stopping it getting too bland. For a start you have a boost you can do although that’s not unlimited, your car has an energy bar that goes down as you smash around the track. If this runs out you will have to pause to repair. To manage that you will have to judge entries into the pitstops to refill your health and boosts. Finally there are power ups laid around the tracks that, if you run over, you will automatically use. These are your classic oil slicks, bombs, ice balls, temporary confusion; nothing you’ve not seen done before in these kind of games.
BAFL has a small variety of game modes, although you’ll probably be most interested in the Championship mode which provides 10 consecutive races between eight opponents, giving points at the end of each stage and then totalled at the end to give an overall winner. Between stages you can upgrade various aspects of you vehicle with cash you receive.
Another surprise is that the way for victory is not what you expect. While you can set it to a set amount of laps to complete, the primary way to win is by completing as many laps in a set amount of time. When the time runs out, the player with the most laps wins.
If you want something a bit different there’re the challenges in the game in the form of time attack or perfect races. Time attack is what you would expect and perfect race tasks you with driving the longest distance possible without touching a wall, if you do so the counter resets. Fans of challenge modes will probably relish these more than the main section of the game to be honest although this is not something that gets me excited personally and it did get a little repetitive fairly soon. They are also fiendishly difficult, I genuinely struggled barely getting one flag out of the potential three.
The gameplay as a whole is all very safe, and a little un-thrilling when played in single player. The game comes more alive when friends join the party. Up to 8, yes eight(!) people can enter the fray. Now, as a married man, living abroad with a baby on the way, it’s safe to say that I’m not exactly swarmed with friends willing to participate in racing mayhem. The 8 player mode is obviously a big selling point although it’s not one I’m able to experience. With just a handful of people it was pleasant fun for people of all abilities. Older or less gaming minded friends may struggle to wrap their head around the perspective of turning, but they’ll get the hang of it and probably contribute to the fun. Obviously the more people the better but you can still enjoy the multiplayer with just a couple of extra people.
I’m not entirely sure how long it will keep everyones attention until you want to move on to a different game or activity, but it’s not a bad option for the price.
That leads me nicely to the value. As the game is on the cheaper end of things, less than $5 or pounds, I think it’s a respectable decision from the publisher. They know the game isn’t exactly packed with content and it’s more for a quick burst experience. In that regard it’s a cheap and cheerful price you really can’t go wrong with. I’m not sure how much mileage you will get out of it when playing alone but it may be fun to pull out once in a while if you’ve got friends over.
Fun with friends
Not fun alone
A little bland