Bears Can’t Drift

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Arran Langmead's Bear's Can't Drift is an ambitious indie kart racer that ultimately falls short

What is Bears Can’t Drift!?

Bears Can’t Drift is a kart racer that is set in a stylised world and is heavily inspired from Diddy Kong Racing. Players take control of bears and race across a variety of tracks and game modes with up to four players in a split-screen game. Four game modes are available to be played. These include time trial, single race, and checkpoint. As a result of these modes being used in countless other racing games, they are self-explanatory.

The fourth game mode, I’m not certain what they’ve called it, or really what the objective has you eat power-ups to fill up a power-up bar. I have yet to try this in the multiplayer mode. However, in the single-player mode, I filled up my bar and attacked the opposition. It isn’t entirely clear what is supposed to happen or what you are supposed to do. An attempt to attack a single enemy mercilessly never eliminated them. Allowing the AI to attack me and empty my own bar never ‘killed’ me. Racing around the track six consecutive times didn’t bring a possible ‘race’ to a close. Consequently, some clarification on this mode is necessary.

A key feature of the game is a hub world. Players must navigate this hub world to get to the next event. This is one of the features that frustrates me most of all.

The Disappointing Hub World

Unfortunately, I am disappointed in the hub world. It has copied the idea from Diddy Kong Racing and I wish that they hadn’t. The gimmick may have worked almost two decades ago in an almost flawlessly designed racing game but it doesn’t satisfy the needs of players today. Therefore, I argue that it is outdated. Many gamers desire a streamlined experience that they can get into and out of as quickly as possible. Because of this, we appreciate having menu systems that enable us to do this. As a result, the hub world is mentioned in many negative reviews as well as positive ones.

I can appreciate that some people may enjoy the hub world. It would seem like a possible solution would be to incorporate a menu system as well as having the hub world. This would satiate the desires of both sets of players – those who enjoy the hub world and those who don’t. A menu system would enable players to get into the actual events faster while those who enjoy the menu system

Bears Cant Drift

Bears Cant Drift has a disappointing hub world

Single Player? Forget About It!

If you are a single player and do not have friends or family to play with then I strongly advise that you do not purchase this game. I have two very strong reasons for this.

Firstly, in the non-race modes, there are no other race cars on the track. As a result, the race tracks feel like big empty space and consequently it feels very lonely. Further, there was no sense of competition whatsoever. If the intention of the developers was to have the single-player on a track by themselves attempting to get the fastest possible time then Steam leaderboards needed to be incorporated. That they are not is almost unforgivable.

Secondly, when it comes to the competitive modes the AI is relatively useless. I am accustomed to having to duel it out with the computer AI. Other race games are able to have competitive AI even if it means the dreaded utilization of rubberbanding code. When you breeze by your opponents on the first or second corner of the race and are never headed again it gives your game a bad look. Even worse than this is when you overlap them on the second lap and they are either running into corners, performing donuts or occasionally not even driving in the right direction.

Ultimately, if you are looking for a strong single-player racing game there are better alternatives on the market.

Local Multiplayer? Right On!

Although I am disappointed in the single-player mode the opposite holds true if you do have friends. This is where the game was intended to deliver and it does a pretty solid job. Playing with only Ainslie still made the game feel a little empty. However, playing with a group of 4 competitive gamers brought the game to life. This made the game feel a lot like Mario Kart and the like. As a result, it is genuinely a game where the more players you have (it supports up to 4) the better your experience.

We were able to laugh and talk trash as we all attempted to outdo one another. The game, as cute as it is, does become very competitive in a group setting. When you have two or three players who are on your level – or better – you strive to keep getting better. The worst of our group claimed at the end of gameplay that they didn’t feel left out and that they improved more than they had in other games because they were truly enjoying themselves. In our last race, they were able to come second instead of lagging miles behind.

Bears Cant Drift

The local multiplayer is the best part of the game

Is it Steamified?

There are no Steam Trading Cards as of yet. There is, however, a set of 21 Steam achievements.

If I were to improve the game for Steam I would definitely add Steam leaderboard to the game especially if there are no plans to include online multiplayer.

Verdict

Bears Can’t Drift!? is a game that I cannot recommend for single-players looking for a competitive racing game. However, if you have multiple friends or family members who can and will play the game with you then it is recommended. Ultimately, there better games out there but for a local multiplayer game, this does represent reasonable value for money.

Developer: Arran Langmead
Publisher: Strangely named Studio

Published: 9 August 2016

Good

  • Graphics are stunning
  • Fun local multiplayer

Bad

  • Single-player is a very dull experience
  • Hub world didnt reach anticipated heights
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Warwick is a graduate of Curtin University. He is one of three people in the world (that we know of) to hold degrees in professional writing, marketing and Internet Communications. He is a passionate sports and gaming fan dedicated to cheering on his beloved teams (Carlton in the AFL, the Blazers, Patriots and Angels in American sports and Man City in the EPL), gamer and dog lover. His favorite genres are adventure, RPG and card games.