Review – Bears Can’t Drift!? (Xbox One)

This might be one of the silliest titles I’ve ever seen for a video game. Bears Can’t Drift!? is a little kart racer developed by the fitting Strangely Named Studio. It was originally released for the PS4 a whopping four years ago, with a brand new Xbox One port now available. Just in case you’re really craving for a family-friendly racer on your Xbox and you’ve never heard of the names Team Sonic Racing, Beach Buggy Racing, All-Star Fruit Racing, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Cars 3, or Race With Ryan (shudders).

bears2

Well look at that, they can actually drift.

The second the game starts, you’ll be thrown into its main hub world without any indication of what to do or where to go. Drive forward and you’ll reach a small laboratory very similar to the Crash Bandicoot 2 hub world. Walk into a very ugly portal and you’ll be transported to yet another hub world centered around forested tracks, and only then you’ll be able to pick a race and actually start the game. Bears Can’t Drift!? tries to distance itself from other low-budget titles by being less focused on menus and more focused on using its main world as a main menu, but it fails at that for a multitude of reasons.

First of all, this is an ugly game. Sure, the graphics are colorful, but that’s the best thing I can say about them. The lack of written explanations as to how the game works even managed to make me, a full-grown adult and definitely not the game’s actual target demographic, ask myself numerous times what was going on. What is the difference between pick-ups? How do the main race mode and picnic mode differ? How could I unlock new worlds to explore and how to change the difficulty? You get the point. Even the main menu is completely non-verbal and that only works when a game features a strong art direction. Bears Can’t Drift!? doesn’t.

bears3

The character roster is a bizarre case in which everyone is charming and completely devoid of charm at the same time.

There is one main solace in this game, however. Controlling your bears is actually quite good. It’s not impressive or as tight as a Mario Kart game, but considering the overall amount of jank this game features, being able to properly drift and move around without much of hassle was a breath of fresh air. What wasn’t a solace, however, was the horrendous rubber banding featured in higher difficulties, as well as some of the game’s physics. If you even dare to touch anything onscreen, your kart will completely lose momentum and pretty much everyone will overtake you.

bears4

The game features Diddy Kong Racing-esque hub worlds.

Bears Can’t Drift!? doesn’t have many things in its favor, but it’s not the worst racing game I’ve played this generation. At the very least, it does feature good controls. I don’t exactly see why you would decide to buy it for your Xbox One besides looking for a kid-friendly kart racer not named Race With Ryan. Those bears sure know how to drift, but they’re not really good at anything else besides that.

 

Graphics: 3.0

This is one ugly game featuring underwhelming level design, nonsensical art direction, and lacking in pretty much every single post-processing effect you can name. The only thing in its favor is that it’s very colorful.

Gameplay: 7.5

It might not feature the most impressive of framerates, but this game does feature somewhat decent controls. They are easy to learn and responsive enough. Drifting is actually quite fun and very useful. The rubber banding in this game is absolutely terrible.

Sound: 3.0

A collection of very obnoxious tunes coupled with the absence of most kinds of sound effects. Play this while listening to anything else.

Fun Factor: 5.0

It’s technically underwhelming and very forgettable, but it’s also quite harmless. You’re probably not going to play it, but there are worse options out there. At least it’s a trouble-free way to earn some gamerscore.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Bears Can’t Drift!? is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Bears Can’t Drift!? was provided by the publisher.