The general public’s views on gaming have had quite a drastic shift over the course of the last couple of months. The global pandemic which is keeping us inside is having an effect on everyone, and gaming is one of the best tools to keep our minds off of not being able to go outside. Well, we who are accustomed to this can finally enjoy not being shamed for our love of games, so that is already a plus in itself. What has also undergone a massive shift is the sales of Nintendo Switch units.
The release of Animal Crossing was the final point in an almost orchestrated sequence of events which saw the family console skyrocket on sales charts worldwide. It goes without saying then that developers are now extremely eager to work on Switch titles in order to have a chance at a small slice of the cake that Nintendo is currently enjoying at the moment. This has given way to a number of games being ported to the system, as well as tons of new indies that are debuting on Nintendo Switch. One such port is the already quite successful Speedrunners, developed by DoubleDutch games.
Upon learning of the game’s existence for the first time, I seriously never imagined that this was actually a game which consists of characters running against each other, but that is essentially what Speedrunners is all about. It pits the player against the opposition – being local players, online or AI – in races around a relatively small map.
There is no set number of laps in Speedrunners, however, as the basic mechanic to win the race is to distance yourself so much from your opponents that they no longer fit in the screen such is their gap from the lead. Doing the above successfully will award you with a ribbon; win three ribbons before the others and that will award you victory. While in theory, this may sound that each race will take ages, this is definitely not the case.
First of all, once the last placing racer is eliminated for being too far behind, the playing screen area starts shrinking from each side until there is only a small rectangle left, which makes it very difficult to stay in the race. There are obstacles littering the maps such as crates or spikes, and bumping into these will slow you down a bunch.
Hit one of these suckers when the screen is as large as my fingernail and it’s GGs. Apart from this, there are also power-ups which characters can pick up along the map in Speedrunners. There are quite a number of different power-ups available; there is a hook which, accordingly, hooks the first opponent unfortunate enough to be in the trajectory when shooting, and you will instantly catch up to him, while also slowing him in the process. It is an almost instant overtake, so it is quite powerful.
There is also the ability to spawn a crate or a number of crates of your own, so dropping them in the faces of other racers will be most rewarding. As one can observe, there are powerups favouring both who is in the lead and who is catching up, making the race fair for all parties.
Another core mechanic of Speedrunners is the grappling hook. Apart from being used in a power-up of sorts as discussed in the previous section, there are a lot of areas where one can swing from and gain a good speed boost. The ceilings from which one can swing have a white lining, meaning there are also ceilings from where one cannot swing. Map awareness is critical in this game, meaning knowing the maps inside and out will be very important to your chances of winning.
That is pretty much all there is to the gameplay aspect. In terms of game modes, there is the story mode, which is basically training on how to play the game and learning the stages, as well as unlocking other characters. There is also local multiplayer, which is quite fun when you’re playing for bragging rights with someone under the same roof. I can already imagine a much younger me playing my sister and loser has to do the dishes.
Unfortunately, this game didn’t come around soon enough, otherwise, I would have never done them! Jokes aside, apart from story and local there is also online multiplayer, where you will test yourself against arguably the better opposition. It may make for the most rewarding or frustrating experience, but given the playful nature of the game, I cannot imagine rage blackouts happening anytime soon.
In terms of graphics, the game runs cartoonish style graphics which suit the style of races and power-ups like a charm. The music is nothing out of the ordinary too but complements the flow of the game well. It gets quite intense when the screen has shrunk too, which is a cute little addition to raise suspense levels.
Speedrunners is basically a game where you can hop on when you’re bored, get a couple of games in and leave just as quick. It’s a good way to kill the time without getting really emotionally engaged, which is not that easy when online multiplayer is involved. It is quite solid, but there are some shortcomings to the formula which I wasn’t a big fan of.
First of all, Speedrunners is revolved around being in the first place, yet whenever the last one is eliminated the screen begins shrinking and visuals for whoever is first begins to be very limited. The game should be rewarding you for being first and not compensating for whoever is third, but unfortunately, it’s the other way around in-game. Another issue with the screen shrinking is that when the screen is at its smallest in the middle, not being level with whoever is first is fatal. Even if you are millimetres away from first if you go to a lower path you’re out.
Personally, Speedrunners should punish horizontal distance and not vertical; I understand that you’re still technically out of the screen but you are still not far back, so that would not be fair for second place. Map Knowledge is also incredibly important in the game, and while I do like games which require a similar commitment to studying, Speedrunners is the type of game which you play for the fun and banter it brings, so this type of knowledge may be a little off place.
Wrapping things up, Speedrunners is a game I would definitely recommend if you’re on the look to boost your Switch library. It is fun, quite simple to get the hang of, and can provide quite a lot of entertainment especially in parties. There are some issues with it but they are not near enough to discourage from playing.
If you enjoyed that Speedrunners review by Chris, check out more of his, and our other writer’s reviews by clicking HERE.