Review – Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure

Vector Unit might not make the best racing games in the market, but they sure know how to deliver a lot with little resources. Their previous games, Riptide GP and Beach Buggy Racing, were ports of surprisingly competent and minimally egregious mobile games that ran incredibly well on the Switch, despite suffering from a handful of technical issues. They have now released a sequel to the latter, Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure, which is easily their best achievement so far.

Beach Buggy Racing 2 Snow Track

Driving a convertible SPORTS CAR on a SNOW LEVEL in a game called BEACH BUGGY RACING.

Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure features the same simplistic, but accessible, “pick up and play” style from its predecessor. However, it also has a lot more content, a graphical overhaul, and general quality of life improvements, making this game one of the most competent kart racers not featuring an Italian plumber available on the Switch’s eShop. It retains the same “easy to learn, not terribly hard to master” control scheme from its predecessor as well. You’re not getting a full overhaul in Beach Buggy Racing 2, you’re getting a brand new barrage of content and some minor, but very welcome improvements instead.

Beach Buggy Racing 2 features fourteen drivers, forty customizable vehicles (the vast majority of them not being beach buggies, may I add) and more than twenty different tracks. Most impressively of all, it has a whopping forty or so different power-ups to use, ranging from your clich├ęd, Mario Kart-esque tropes (blue shell equivalent included) to some bizarre gizmos such as monsters that start chomping on your car, slowing you down as a result. Each character features their specific special move as well, adding yet another layer of strategy to what’s already an impressive display of content, especially considering its file size barely reaches half a gigabyte.

Beach Buggy Racing 2 Fire

Not exactly a looker, but it runs incredibly well on the Switch.

The game’s main addition, however, is its brand new Adventure mode. Granted, this is basically a series of races scattered throughout a mostly linear map, but the developers managed to include a steady amount of upgrades and different racing rules throughout this lengthy campaign that kept me motivated at all times. Besides this standard mode, Beach Buggy Racing 2 also features your run-of-the-mill Championship and Quick Race modes, as well as local and co-op multiplayer. Finally, the developers took some inspiration from Super Smash Bros Ultimate and added a brand new rule creator, allowing you to come up with the dumbest racing rules you can think of. It’s less exciting than it sounds, but it’s a neat little addition nonetheless.

Vector Unit did improve Beach Buggy Racing 2‘s overall presentation, but not by much. The visuals still remain this game’s Achilles’ heel. It does look a bit better than the previous game, with slightly improved textures and lighting effects, but all in all, it’s still basically a PS2 game running on a higher resolution. Thankfully, it still runs at 60fps at all times. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is better than before, with a few extra ska tunes in addition to the average-at-best surf rock songs featured in Beach Buggy Racing. Sadly, the bland sound effects are still a disappointment.

Drifting in Beach Buggy Racing 2 is a lot more intuitive than you would expect.

All in all, despite still not being a fantastic achievement when it comes to its presentation, Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure is easily one of the more full-bodied kart racing options available on the Switch. Sure, competing against Mario Kart is basically a death sentence, but considering its great controls and nonsensical amount of content are being sold for a surprisingly reasonable price tag, I’d say this one is easily worth picking up.

 

Graphics: 6.5

It’s still a bit dated, but it’s noticeably more detailed than the first Beach Buggy Racing. The framerate is still excellent.

Gameplay: 8.0

It’s fluid and responsive, even if it does suffer a bit from the Switch’s lack of analog triggers, just like every other racing game on the system.

Sound: 6.5

The sound effects are still very subpar, but the soundtrack is a lot better than the one featured in its predecessor. There are some pretty good surf rock and ska tunes thrown into the mix.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Beach Buggy Racing 2 features a lot more content when compared to its predecessor, with a fairly enjoyable campaign mode to boot.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure was provided by the publisher.