Welcome to my review of Switch Galaxy for the PS Vita! It is currently the only “racing” game for PS Mobile on the Vita. And that’s as of like, March 5th, so that’s half a year to be the only racing game for PS Mobile. For Switch Galaxy’s sake I guess that’s a good thing, but its kind of sad too.
Anyway, the look of the game at first glance gives a Wipeout 2048 vibe (for those of you unsure, Wipeout is a racing series, spawned long before the gameshow of fat people falling into water of the same name). However, the gameplay is nothing like Wipeout. In fact, I’m hesitant to call it a racer because, well, you can’t actually accelerate, or decelerate on your own. Now, I’m not big into racing games, but it seems like speeding up or slowing down on your own are kind of fundamental aspects of being a racing game. That being said, its a fun game in its own right. Just don’t go in expecting to be racing against anything, or to be “racing” at all.
The core mechanics of the game are trying to get the end of the track in an alloted time period. You move left and right across a series of 3-5 lanes using either the D-Pad or L/R buttons to avoid obstacles which are colored gates, other cars (which are put there solely to slow you down) and the occasional break in the track which you must attempt to get in the right lane to make the jump or be severely slowed down. Some times all lanes are blocked by a gate or something and if that happens you want to grab a colored orb and then go through the gate of the same color. This allows you to not hit it so you won’t slow down. Basically, you want to hit the fewest things, and pass over the most speed boosts to get to the end of the track in the fastest time possible. The reward for beating the basic time is to unlock the next level and gain credits. There is a way to beat the Gold time and get a Gold star on the level (and possibly extra credits though I’m not sure) but the Switch Galaxy never actually tells you what the time is to get the Gold star, and honestly that is just flat out annoying. I mean, I try to do my best in the game, but without a clear defined goal, I have no idea if I’m 10 seconds off, or .1 seconds off.
As I said earlier, you earn credits at the end of each race (even if you fail you earn some but it doesn’t matter) and you use these credits in the shop to buy ship upgrades. They could be better acceleration, less slowing down from hitting barriers, or faster lane switching. There are also cosmetic upgrades for your ship but I didn’t waste many credits on those. These are all great things to have, and should be able to help out someone who is struggling to beat the game. Now, the game isn’t that hard, but there are a couple of levels which are downright brutal and took me a long time to finally overcome. The problem with the upgrade system is in how credits are rewarded. Unlock virtually every game in existence, when you get credits in Switch Galaxy, these don’t accumulate. Let’s say you get 500 credits in one race and don’t spend them. The next race you then get 800 credits! Yay right? That should be 1300 credits! Nope, now all you have is 800 credits! That’s right, the credits are only saved for your most recent race. And unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until halfway through the game so I lost out on several potential ship upgrades. What’s worse is that, until you beat Switch Galaxy, you can’t replay any levels. And even though you gets credits when you fail a race, its never enough to get even the cheapest upgrade. That means that if you are a struggling player, you will have the toughest time of all as this is a system that only rewards the most hardcore, best players, which are the people who need the upgrades the least! Its asinine! I mean, thankfully its not that hard of a game. But that doesn’t make sense to have that ass backwards system! I’ll move on from that now. I’m probably making mountains out of molehills, but I just don’t see any point in a system like that.
After you beat the game once you do unlock level select where you can go back and do any level you want. That’s pretty cool but since Switch Galaxy doesn’t keep a record of your bests times or even tell you which levels you got the Gold time in, I found it pretty pointless to go back.
The graphics look okay but they are nothing special. Relatively uninspired really. Your car is relatively average in looks. The backgrounds for each race do change but they still don’t feel particularly inspired and are generally a bright blue starry sky with maybe a planet in the background, or maybe a dark night sky, with a planet or possibly galaxy in the background. Sadly, the gray and red look of the track never, ever changes, and as that is what you’ll be looking at most, that’s kind of lame. The music too is alright. Its techno-ish music which is common in these futuristic racing games like Wipeout 2048. But once again, the music is to uninspired and feels kind of muted. I never once got myself going to the beat and jamming to it like most of the songs in Wipeout.
There is a story, I guess, but its at best just a way to set context into what you are racing for. Basically some company hired you to deliver a package across the galaxy, and they pay you more the faster you get there. Which is why you race through everything. As you go from planet to planet, and system to system, there are little details of each planet you can read. Such as its distance from the core of the galaxy, amount of days in a year, and population breakdown. I got a little kick out of that part though because I’m not sure if Switch Galaxy is being serious or just having some fun as some of the races it names are straight out of Star Wars. Like the Hutts, or the Zusken Raiders (Tusken Raiders in Star Wars, aka, Sand People). Ultimately though none of it really matters as you won’t even see so much as concept art for any of the races.
Switch Galaxy is a pretty fun game though, and its fast paced Left/Right nature will keep you on your edge for the couple of hours or so it takes to beat it. However, there is one main reason I’ll be recommending this game. Despite its gimped level select feature it does also have a survival mode. And the goal in this is too go as far as possible without hitting anything. The moment you hit something you lose. Thankfully, this mode also allows you to earn credits and though its the same system as I described earlier, if you can get far enough then you can continue to unlock credits so you can keep upgrading your ship, thus furthering how successful you can be in Survival. Also, it keeps track of your farthest distance obtained, so you always have a clear goal to beat.
Because of this I’m able to give Switch Galaxy a 6/10, and that’s in no small part to being able to have a reason to keep coming back long after I’ve finished the story. Its points suffer though, for uninspired visuals, audio, and a huge blows comes from its terrible credits sytem and gimped level select/record keeping. I do recommend Switch Galaxy.
Switch Galaxy was developed by Atomicom and was released on March 5th, 2013. It takes up 29MB and currently has 4.65/5 stars based on 58 ratings.
Note: I did just reread the description for Switch Galaxy on PS Mobile, and it never says in the description that it is a racing game, just a fast paced arcade challenge. Which is far more correct. However, it is in the Racing category on PS Mobile and really should be in the Arcade category.