Space Ribbon Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Octeca

Publisher: Octeca

Release Date: Out Now

Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £12.99 GBP

Game code provided by Octeca for review

Story

In the year 2132, Earth’s remaining resources have all been mined to create a material known as Space Ribbon, a reality TV racing programme like no other is aired around universe.  Meanwhile, spaceship like crafts of a giant panda and tiger head were created to spew out this so-called space ribbon that drivers can race on in an intergalactic race among the stars!

Humans will be racing cars as well as futuristic hover vehicles in bid to be crowned the number 1 racer in the universe!

Gameplay

Gameplay in Space Ribbon is not your typical racer. Instead of the tracks that you can memorize after racing them a few times are absent here. Instead, all tracks in Space Ribbon are procedural generated on the fly, so no one race track will ever be the same. It’s an interesting take on racing but does it work?

Answer is yes. Maybe… there are 16 event/cups you can play through. Each one has a certain requirement to be able to race in. Some will require you to only race with cars with wheels or you may have to use one of the many hover vehicles. Each event/cup will unlock new cars, custom parts, and new events.

Each new event has a required level. However, going back to previous events with a powdered-up car is not allowed and you will have to remove upgrades if wish to play on them again

There are quite a few different event types like – race, sprint, and even weapon-based challenges.  There are also some themed courses like Halloween cup or difficult cosmic events which can be unlocked as you progress.

If you can’t wait that long, you can play all the cups and use most of the cars in the free play option.

Space Ribbon Screenshot
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Slipstreams!

So what are the tracks like to actual race on and are there any unique mechanics that makes this racer different?

Well, yes, there is actually one thing I’ve noticed at the very beginning – it’s that you can’t just press accelerate and expect to win a race.

It’s all about keeping in the slipstream of each car in front of you.

There is bar at the bottom left hand corner that slowly increases as you continually stay within the slipstream of an opponent. It will increase your speed over time so you can overtake other racers. However, there’s catch as you won’t remain in the front running for long as others will boost pass you doing same thing.

You need to slow down to re-enter the slipstream and build up your boost gauge again.

Never heard of a racing game where slowing down is the best course of action. It’s definitely an interesting concept.

But it’s difficult while playing as you soon realise that when you do slow down, other racers will zoom right by you.

Then it’s the slow progress of you needing to build up your boost meter again which takes some time – you could potentially lose race because of it.

The issue I have is tracks are pretty short, sometimes there’s just no way to overtake the second time. I found luck plays a big part here.

Space Ribbon Screenshot 2
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Best course of action!

My strategy is to build up slipstream boost, overtake, and try and remain in front, looking behind me to make sure no one is trying use my slip stream to overtake me. And if they do, I position myself in their slipstream to do a second overtake. It’s not ideal but I have managed to get through few events using this strategy.

Custom!

As you progress, you can unlock new cars and new parts. Parts you can unlock are: engines, wheels, paint jobs, as well as antennas to customise your ride. These unlock pretty often and there seems to be quite a few parts, cars to unlock.

Modes!

When you first boot up the game, you have a few options to choose from. You can play campaign mode which lets play through each event trying win them all, and as you do, you unlock more cars and parts.

There’s free mode which lets you play without restrictions on any event. There’s also quite a few options to play around in on this mode too.

You can also change difficulty. There are some standard options too.

Space Ribbon Screenshot 3
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How do you drive this thing?

Controls are pretty simple in Space Ribbon. You can steer with the left analog stick and drift with the Y button. If you acquire a shield, you can active it with either B button or R bumper. You can accelerate with ZR trigger and reverse with LR trigger. And finally, if you collect a rocket, you can fire it with either the A button or the L bumper.

There’s even motion control racing with joy-cons if click R analog stick. However, I was unable to try it out as my joy-cons are out of action at this current time.

Space Ribbons!

Tracks are apparently controlled by an intelligent AI which generates the track during play, adding twists and turns that are unpredictable. There’s definitely a difference and having it set in deep space gives them an unusual air to them.

But sometimes there’s not enough variety.

Multiplayer!

One thing I can’t deny is that the multiplayer is really fun with up to 4 players! One of the coolest features is the ability to play as track creator – giant panda or tiger spaceship – never thought I’d ever say that!

Three other players can go as vehicles and one player can fly about creating twists and turns in their massive animal head spaceship. They also have an extra goal to do as well.

Every time they collect a green satellite, they can create more track for racers. However, if you don’t collect enough to extend the track then you will begin to slow down to the point where racers will catch upon you.

Once a race car enters the panda’s or tiger’s mouth, the race is over. Also, as you’re creating the track, be careful not to hit into any part of the track that you’ve already created as that will end the race.

Of course, if you all you want is to just race, that is an option too!

But definitely a cool feature and I had a lot of fun in multiplayer with friends.

Space Ribbon Screenshot 4
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Have I enjoyed it?

I’ve enjoyed the multiplayer a lot. It’s just fun to play with friends. I’ve definitely enjoyed playing different events. It’s not like anything I’ve played before.

Slipstream mechanics take a while to get used to and in all honesty, I prefer a standard driving experience. But I have enjoyed different events on offer. Rubber-banding is annoying, especially when you’re nearly at the finish line and someone speeds pass you, which can get frustrating. There’s also the AI which is quite brutal.

Some of the tracks don’t have guard rails and the AI drivers can try to run you off road by crashing into you, making you spin out control or worst case scenario, sending you off track into the void of space!

Even though there are issues here, I still found it hard to put it down as I am learning to stay behind the pack and accelerate at right moment to win.

There are a lot of events! And some real cool ones like a themed Halloween course or dreaded cosmic mode!

But I think Space Ribbon definitely shines in multiplayer mode.

Audio

Music is lots of techno and what I describe as a club sort of sound-track. It’s not awful and fits the overall hectic nature of this title.

Visuals & Performance

Visually, game looks nice, especially the space backgrounds which look very cool! It’s by no means Mario Kart visuals, but they look fine and do a fairly good job of making you feel as though you’re in space. So far, I’ve had no issues with performance, everything worked well and I’ve got no complaints to speak of.

Game also supports video capture and screenshots.

Value

Priced at £12.99 I think that’s a little too expensive. I feel like £8.99 would have been the sweet spot for this title.

However, it does have enough to play through with its 16 event/cups each with different types of events or requirement to enter, including the Halloween themed event and cosmic mode.

Four-player split screen and the ability to play as the track creator is a great inclusion.

There are quite a bit of cars and parts to unlock which is enjoyable.

Pros

P

4 player multiplayer is great fun

P

Lots of events to play

P

Parts and cars to unlock

Cons

P

Tracks aren’t memorable

P

Rockets are difficult to use