From the first moment Bears Can’t Drift!? began, I was immediately concerned with the quality of the title. Within the first five minutes of playing the game, I got stuck into a wall, reset back to the main menu and started again. This was not a good sign for things to come; worrying to say the least. I braced myself for a low quality kart racer pushed out to the marketplace for a quick buck. And in many ways this ended up being true, however not completely. There is clear love and dedication that has been put into this game, which makes this next part that much harder to do.
In many ways, Bears Can’t Drift!? is simply not well made. It’s not horrible, yet it comes across as being below average most of the time. No particular part of the game is terrible, but in every sense of the word it feels lacking and in need of some serious polish.
Beginning with arguably the most important part of a kart racer, the controls, and they work well enough so that I have never felt incredibly disadvantaged in a race. It has never felt good to drive though – the karts are very loose and extremely slippery. Oftentimes I would drive into obstacles out of my own control because the turning lacks the tight responsiveness that is expected. Mileage varies on how bad the controls irk depending on the track – on harder, more turn-heavy circuits this lack of tight controls starts to seriously hinder the experience.
Don’t get me started on tracks actually. I can’t count how many times I have flown off the road in random directions after just driving off of one. There seems to be no barriers in place across many of them and so if you are driving around a section with hills on either side, then well, you can drive up those and leap to another part of the track. This will often happen out of your control, with the AI pushing you off the road. Even though steering away from this is mostly manageable however, the real problem is found in the pathing on each of the tracks. At best they have bland layouts that have been seen a hundred times. At worst you cant even tell where you are supposed to be going.
Speaking of the AI, and it’s honestly one of the most well-polished parts of the experience. Every difficulty feels fair and the competitors – for the most part – behave reasonably. Obviously it’s a kart racer, so the AI behaviour is not that complex, but it is still nice to see that it is in working order. This could have been a lot worse without it.
Bears Can’t Drift!? features three distinct worlds that each offer four tracks, along with the game modes that you might expect. There are races, time trials, and my favourite – Picnic Battle. Races and time trials are exactly what you expect and there are no complaints here, but Picnic Battle is unique and great fun. This creative game mode is sure to offer some hilarity with friends involved, as each driver roams around the map trying to eat more food than everyone else. But to mix it up, all competitors have rockets that let you steal food from others if you hit them, with whoever reaches the maximum amount first turning out as the winner.
The art style is distinct too and might be the first thing buyers notice on the store page. It has a very charming, rather cartoonish look to it; very retro and almost cel shaded, looking similar to something like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. It’s quite nice to look at, however it is simply horrible to hear. Every world has it’s own theme yet each of them is painfully repetitive and bland. It sounds like something ripped straight off of a sound sharing website. I couldn’t even tell you whether every track had the same tune or not; if they didn’t they all sound similar and awful. There’s just something annoying and cringe-inducing about the music, to the point where I simply spent time with Bears Can’t Drift!? listening to my own musical playlists.
It’s never easy giving honest thoughts on games like Bears Can’t Drift!? on Xbox One, as it is clear people have put their blood, sweat and tears into its creation. There’s clearly a lot of passion and work put into this, and it’s charming and upbeat, with retro influences clear on its sleeves. However, it simply needs so much more polish that I cannot currently recommend a purchase to anyone. When things start to become a serious drag to continue playing, you know something is up. So if you’re looking for a good kart racer on Xbox One, unless you’re really desperate, I suggest looking elsewhere.