For most of my life, I’ve loved racing games. I might not have been the best at the more simulation-based ones for most of that, but I loved driving, no matter what it was. Mario Kart would be the obvious favourite, with the likes of Forza Horizon and the DiRT series being other well-known series.
Then there’s the lesser known stuff, such as Wheelspin and Mini Desktop Racing, that replicate a certain style of racing on a budget (and usually fail at it in some form or other). But all of these are console-based racers, and while they’re great to get stuck into, for a gamer on handhelds – as I mostly was in my younger years – there needs to be some great experiences there, as well.
Such was indeed the case. Mario Kart DS is an easy one to pick out, but I’m not looking at Nintendo’s handhelds with this. Along with the DS, I owned a PSP, and two of the games I’d played on it have already featured as part of last year’s Racing Month – by way of their console counterparts. But what of the other racers I’d played on Sony’s handheld?
You’ve seen me talk about my experiences with the two Jedi Knight games that Aspyr have ported to the Switch. I enjoyed what I played, but they felt like they were showing their age. Still fine games, but plenty of little quirks that can sour the experience. I’d never played those two before, except a brief outing on Academy, and I’d never played this next one either.
There were plenty of Star Wars games of the old times that I’d never got around to playing, to be fair. The same friend who’d introduced me to the series through Battlefront 2 had showed off the Revenge of the Sith game, but for a number of years, I was content to just collect the new releases and not look back.
Then, when my love for the franchise had solidified, I started to look back on gaining some experience of those older games. I enjoyed my time with some of them, and others not so much, but there was one I was particularly curious about – especially having played an arcade version of it while at Disney Quest in America. Podracing.
Saints Row: The Third was a game I had my eye on from when it was first announced to be coming to the Switch. An open world game similar to GTA? Count me in! Not as if the latter series is ever coming to Switch. However, it took me a year before I bought into it. I was still playing a lot of GTA V back then, with the Switch filling in for experiences different to both it and Forza Horizon.
With it being a year since it released on Switch, I took notice of the series again. By this time, I was playing less of both of those games on the Xbox One, what with Framing Simulator and the LEGO marathon taking up my time, so now the tables had turned. It was time for the Switch to get another true open world game.
The Third was the most obvious choice, as it was the one I had previously been looking at, and from opinions I had seen around it was the better choice to start with. From the ten hours I’ve been with it so far, I’m certainly enjoying my first taste of hanging with the Third Street Saints.
When people are asked what the best Star Wars games are, they usually reply Battlefront or Knights of the Old Republic. When they aren’t fawning over those two series, the next to get in the spotlight is Jedi Knight. Heralded as having the best lightsaber combat of any Star Wars game, Outcast and Academy are standout games for the franchise.
Except… I don’t really see that. If you remember to the last Star Wars Month, I put up a video showing off an early level of Academy. Playing on PC, I was stuck with keyboard and mouse controls, and really didn’t want to mention anything else. Fact was, though, I couldn’t see what people were raving about. Old game though it might be, with terrible movement and gunplay, I couldn’t see anything worthwhile in the lightsaber combat.
Now, with both Outcast and Academy being released on the Nintendo Switch, I felt I could really get stuck into them, away from my awkward use of keyboard and mouse controls. Before I get stuck in, I will say that it still hasn’t been a positive experience.
Back during the build-up for the original release of LEGO Harry Potter, I was massively excited for it. I’d already played and enjoyed Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and the trailers for Harry Potter were doing their job in getting me excited for it. When I played it, there was a certain magic to it – and I’m not just saying that because of the setting of the series.
There was a lot to love with it, and once Years 5-7 released a year later, both The Clone Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean had released, both of which I’d also enjoyed. But that did lessen the enjoyment of the second Harry Potter game – despite there being several new elements to it.
It wasn’t the fact I was getting burnt out from LEGO games, but that playing the other two between the two of Harry Potter raised a highlight of the games I hadn’t much recognised while playing the first. And this is the thing I call the Harry Potter syndrome.
With the recent news that Criterion are back onto Need For Speed, I’m hyped. The team might have seen some change since Burnout Paradise, but they are a great studio. That concept they had for the extreme sports game never got off the ground, but there was promise within it.
And you’ll note that I said back to Need For Speed. Once finished with Burnout Paradise, the Criterion team were put onto EA’s other long-standing racing series to make Hot Pursuit. After the success of that game, they followed up with my personal favourite of the series in Most Wanted .
While they did help with Rivals, their time on the series looked as though it was done, with Ghost Games [now EA Gothenburg] being the main developer of Rivals and taking on the series since that time.
In the last few years I’ve started to branch out some more with games, rather than sticking with the few series that I know. Most of that has been with the Switch, but I have been hunting for things in other places, too.
Steam would be a good place to go, with sales and cheaper prices overall than what you’d find on a console store, and it was something of a surprise when I pretty much stumbled upon one of the two I’ll be talking about here right away.
The other one I had seen before and had got interest in, but had fallen off my radar pretty quickly. The day after buying that first game, however, I found it again.
I’ve played plenty of racing games in varying different styles across the numerous years. There’s a certain type I had not really played all that often, however. Aside when being at an arcade and able to access the Sega Rally machines, I hadn’t really played any sort of a rally game.
I felt that I’d not be much good at them, with the thin tracks and my varied skill in racing, so I was content to just let rally experiences be something contained to those arcade machines.
I usually read reviews from Nintendo Life even if I’m not much interested in checking a game out, just to see if there’s anything that I’d like in it. Every possibility I can be convinced to try something new, after all. On New Year’s Eve, I read a review from the site for a racing game. A rally game.
Sure, it was a mobile port, but it looked as packed of content as plenty of other racing games, with the review and comments saying how the gameplay was excellent, rivalling plenty of other racing games on the Switch. Did I want to go for it, though?
Back at the beginning of October, I made a post talking about my latest hook in gaming. That hook came from revisiting the Feed a Cow For Christmas Jingle Jam 2018 stream of the Yogscast, and within the post I gave a brief history of my exposure to Yogscast content which led into how I first got that hook into Farming Simulator.
At the end, I said I had my eye on what would become of Farming Simulator 2020 on Switch. Depending on if I felt that would give me a great experience, I’d either buy it or give it a miss and wait for 2021 – which would be the new entry rather than a mobile port of the previous year’s game.
Despite having Game Pass for more than a year, there’s very little I’ve actually played from it. Sea of Thieves has been the main contributor for play time from it, with Zoo Tycoon, Gears 4, and State of Decay 2 seeing varying levels of usage from it.
The latest game to be played from the service is Farming Simulator 2017. But that latest could have been ten months earlier when I’d found my latest hook in gaming. Let me explain that.
In 2015 I had bought GTA V on PC, with a push from my sister and a friend, and jumped straight into the online, where I spent a lot of time creating races as well as driving across routes of many others. To go with this, I had taken an interest in looking on Youtube for other races I could play.
One of those places I stumbled upon was Smosh Games with their Grand Theft Smosh series. The other was the Yogscast main channel, which my sister had sent a video from, of the Biking on Water Ragequit Races video.