Beach Buggy Racing is the latest racer from US indie developer Vector Unit. Like their last Xbox One offering, Riptide GP 2, Beach Buggy Racing also started life as a mobile game and in the same way that Riptide owed a huge debt to the Nintendo classic Wave Race 64, Beach Buggy Racing owes a debt to Mario Kart. Gameplay is king here and with such satisfying controls and excellent split-screen racing it’s easy to forgive some of the game’s flaws.
The career mode here is fairly substantial. There are 9 championships, which are mainly made up of standard race events as well as the occasional alternative event such as ‘follow the leader’, ‘stampede’, ‘shooting gallery’ and more traditional time trials (here rebranded as ‘boost blitz’) and elimination events. While these alternative events help to keep your interest alive it’s the occasionally unfair AI which will have you tearing your hair out at times. This is most evident during the end of championship ‘boss’ races, where you race one-on-one against a new character who you will gain access to if you beat them. The biggest issue with these races is that even if you have upgraded your car as much as possible and race flawlessly you are still quite likely to lose (particularly in the latter championships); the key to winning these races is usually getting lucky with the power-ups near the end of the race.
While Beach Buggy Racing has no online component (apart from Friend leaderboards), it’s split-screen racing where this game excels, and with up to 6 players being able to play at once not only is your sofa going to be quite crowded but friendships will be tested by the deadly power-up that always hits whoever is in 1st place (and will take anyone else out that is in its way). There was no noticeable drop in frame-rate, even with 4 players.My friends and I had an absolute blast racing each other and when you get shot and overtaken just before the finishing line you always feel like you can return the favour to your victor in the next race.
Overall this game is pretty much what you would expect from a Kart racing port of a mobile game: the graphics are bright and cartoony, the frame rate is rock solid, there are a few physics glitches when your vehicle gets flipped and the AI can be a bit unfair but all in all there is a lot of fun to be had here.