GamingReview: GENSOU Skydrift

Review: GENSOU Skydrift

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There are many series of games which don’t really have a huge market over here in the U.K. Often Japanese based titles are massive on one side of the world but barely make a splash in Europe in general. You probably haven’t heard of the “Touhou” universe and the many different genres of games that are shared within that environment but GENSOU Skydrift is part of that heritage which dates back to the nineties.

GENSOU Skydrift story concerns itself with the mystical land of Gensokyo somewhere in Japan, humans and yokai (supernatural Japanese myths) live together in a weird harmony. One day, some girls notice that their spirit energy is weak. Yokai specialist Reimu Hakurei and her friend Marisa Kirisame spot something running off on a racetrack and that’s how everything kicks off. Now that’s the story of GENSOU Skydrift, the actual game is a n arcade kart racer where you as a duo of witches fly on top of each other like on a surfboard!

GENSOU Skydrift has a fair bit in common with Double Dash, you can swap between the characters mid race to utilise their special attributes. The idea behind picking your team is to try to make sure they are best matched so for example someone who is very fast teamed up with someone who has different attributes would be ideal. So picking two speed demons lacking drifting abilities will mean you may be able to fly down straight tracks but you’ll struggle going round corners. There are a few different modes in GENSOU Skydrift. Campaign is a standard set of races where you must finish near the top to progress the somewhat confusing and not so interesting story. Versus mode is where you can play against the computer, a mate or someone online (couldn’t find anyone in my game). There is also a Free Run mode which is your standard time trial. GENSOU Skydrift expects you to know a fair bit about the Touhou universe, if you don’t then most of plot will mean nothing to you.

As mentioned earlier GENSOU Skydrift has you in control of two characters out of the 20 that you can choose from. Not only do they have different skills but as they witches they also possess spells which can be used mid race. Like any classic old school arcade racing game there are different power ups a la Mario Kart. Obviously you need to be careful when you are first because you will often find yourself with a target on your back. There is a reasonably variety of power ups available which you’ll get plenty of opportunity to deploy. The controls in GENSOU Skydrift are quite responsive, they feel like you’re in control, however the tracks you take seem to give you the opposite experience. There is a huge amount of starting and stopping if you’re not hitting the race line perfectly. You don’t generally bounce off the scenery in GENSOU Skydrift, you just seem to hit an invisible wall that stops you in your tracks. It’s hugely annoying at times as it punishes racers who are drifting either very wide or keeping close to the corner.

Graphically GENSOU Skydrift has a very nostalgic feel to it, it’s very similar to one of those high octane racing titles you would find in an arcade in both feel and design, it reminded me of Wipeout for some reason. There are elements of GENSOU Skydrift which wouldn’t feel out of place if this was an early PS3 title. The menu is very simple whilst the tracks themselves are not particularly outstanding but do the job, they are mostly bold and bright in that usual Japanese anime look. The character artwork when the plot is popping along excellent but the character models in the racing element are fairly sketchy. Musically GENSOU Skydrift is where it does very well. The different soundtracks on each course get you in the mood for some witchy racing. GENSOU Skydrift. With so much text on screen GENSOU Skydrift is let down a little by the lack of voice acting.

GENSOU Skydrift feels out of place in it’s less than polished look. The racing is actually fun and feels like your racing but it’s let down by unforgiving courses and some early PS3 era graphics. If you somehow happen to know the Touhou universe then you may get a few hours out GENSOU Skydrift but it’s unlikely that would be the case. The lack of voice acting detracts from the plot whilst the complete lack of online players have a negative effect on the GENSOU Skydrift experience. If you fancy playing something that is similar to Double Dash then GENSOU Skydrift will give you the odd throwback, but as a whole it’s hard to recommend GENSOU Skydrift even to the most avid fan.

SUMMARY

+ Racing is fun
+ Great soundtrack
- Expectation that you know the world already
- Unforgiving tracks with invisible walls
- Graphics resemble something from the early PS3 period
(Reviewed on PS4, also available on PC & Switch)

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