I managed to pick up a Nintendo Switch on launch day along with the very disappointing Super Bomberman S. Two weeks later I finally decided to buy a second game, Fast RMX. Whilst not an original concept, my initial impressions are pretty darn good but there’s two big ugly flaws.
The colour, sorry “phase”, switching works quite well and is a nice gameplay element. Very quickly you get used to the switching and can propel yourself along at some pretty hairy speeds. You can end up pelting along, like the name suggests, fast. Very fast. The sense of speed works well and with the boosts it can feel like you’re hanging on, barely able to react to the intense speeds. Good stuff. The music is great and visuals are great, really helping with the intensity and showcasing that the Switch is more than novelty milking games as some people may think.
However as I mentioned, there’s two notable flaws.
First up is the controls. Having spent the last 10-15 years playing racing games where I use triggers to accelerate and brake, having to use A & B felt quite foreign. Then again, it is Nintendo so I’m not surprised and it is easy enough to learn. The larger problem with this design is that to boost you press ‘Y’ / Up. This is with the same thumb as you use for accelerating. What sort of a racing game has you let got of the accelerator in order to go faster? Seems silly and I wasn’t alone in thinking this.
When playing with just a joycon this feels a little more fiddly as well. Being very small in your hands it is quite easy to accidently press the buttons to lean left or right, causing you to crash.
Next time can we stick to sensible LT/RT controls please? This feels more comfortable, is less error prone and allows for boosting without letting taking your foot off the pedal, so to speak.
The other issue is the track design. They are visually great and have some really fun twists and turns but there are also a lot of ways to get yourself blown up without a huge say in it. Whilst its never fun to get blown up having been shunted off the track or by losing control, both of which are very easily done in a high speed game, they are ultimately “racing incidents”. The frustration you experience is part of the fun by making it more challenging and satisfying to succeed. With the speed and risk of getting smashed, there’s an intensity.
However crashing because you happened to be going slightly too fast or slow to make a jump that you can’t fully see until you are in the air is not fun. This is poor level design. On every course that I’ve tried there was at least one or two sections where I found myself learning how to take off and land without being thrown into a wall and exploding.
Whilst it is good to have a challenge and fine to punish mistakes, in a really top notch racing game you can often tell if you’re out of shape before you crash. In Fast RMX you find out when it is too late to save yourself. This means that if you’re getting some friends together for a game that it will be a competition to see who crashes the least, rather than who is best at the core game.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like Fast RMX. I’d give it an 8 out of 10 based on my initial impressions, especially once I got used to it a bit more, but it does mean that I’m searching for a new good game to play with friends and family. In the mean time I’m looking forward to enjoying some thrills, even there may be a few frustrating moments along the way.