I’ve always been a fan of arcade-like isometric racers ever since smashing in tons of hours in the likes of Rock n’ Roll Racing and Biker Mice from Mars when I was younger, so naturally I simply had to play Targem Games’ BlazeRush. I’m surprised it hadn’t hit my radar sooner to be fair, especially since it’s been on the likes of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 since its initial release back in 2014. It’s just come to the Nintendo Switch though and I’ve got my hands on it, and thankfully it offers just what I wanted: destructively fun arcade racing.
BlazeRush offers simple weapon-based racing across a bunch of topsy-turvy tracks, with multiple vehicles types to use across different classes as you race in a variety of game modes. It does come with one extra unique feature which is unconventional for a racer though: you don’t have to brake. All of your racing is done by simply hitting the analogue stick in the direction you want to go, with no need to worry about accelerating, braking, or attempting to drift as you slip and slide all over each track. It’s a control scheme that can feel a little awkward to adjust to initially, but it doesn’t take long before it starts to feel intuitive and it certainly suits the action-packed nature of BlazeRush. Weapons are also blasted out with a quick button press as is your boost that’ll shoot you ahead of the pack – you’ll want to be careful with it though, because it’s easy to launch yourself off the track.
In fact, it’s easy to get launched around just about anywhere in BlazeRush, with the anarchic physics and constant stream of weapons causing chaos throughout most races. All it takes is a quick bump, a few bullets, or just speeding off in the wrong direction to find yourself spinning all over the place, which is something you can expect to see a lot of when the pack is tight together and trying to speed ahead for that first-place finish. Thankfully, the easy control scheme of BlazeRush makes it easy to quickly get yourself back into the right direction, so it’s not a frustrating type of chaos but instead one that seems to work alongside the racing in a fun way. Sure, you might be facing the completely wrong direction or blasted off the track after an attack from a rival, but the simple nature of the game means it’s easy enough to get your bearings and get right back into the action.
Even if you don’t get back into the action quickly, you’ll find the game forgiving thanks to the teleport function that’ll get you back on the track if you speed off it or even pull you back up to the pack if you fall too far behind. It’s something you’ll appreciate a lot in the single player mode when you’re competing against the AI, but when I was in multiplayer it was a little frustrating to see my rivals catch up to me when I wanted them to eat my dust. Ok, maybe that’s my ego talking, but still…
The single player campaign is made up of different events that include four race types: standard races, time-trials, Death Races where there’s a huge spiked steamroller taking out drivers who fall behind, and King of the Hill where players are rewarded for staying in first place as long as possible. There’s a good bit of variety on offer in each game mode and they’re all fun in design, though the simple game mechanics do prevent them from offering too much depth outside of simply wanting to stay in first place. The single player campaign itself is decent enough though, with new tracks and vehicles to unlock and plenty of challenges to complete as you work through it. Admittedly, BlazeRush did feel like one of those games that’s more fun to come back to time and time again as opposed to smashing a ton of hours into it in one go thanks to its simple nature, but there’s no doubting I had fun working through the campaign.
On the multiplayer side of things, those looking to partake in some online races might be left a bit disappointed – I haven’t managed to find an online match the whole time I’ve played the game. I don’t know if this was just a case of me hitting the online mode at the wrong time or just the fact that there’s nobody playing, though it’s often the case with smaller games like this anyway. At least local multiplayer is a blast though and allows up to four-players to hit one screen together, so there’s definitely the potential there for BlazeRush to host some frantic beer-fuelled racing showdowns.
Everything manages to play well on the Nintendo Switch, though there was one issue that stood out to me when playing on the console’s portable mode. The game is designed to fit every vehicle onto the camera no matter their position, so it’ll often zoom out and make everything smaller. This isn’t a problem when playing on a TV, but when playing with the Switch in your hands it could make it difficult to see what exactly was going on, especially if you’re speeding ahead (or falling behind) the pack. It’s not a massive issue and it’s nothing that a little bit of squinting won’t fix, but it was certainly something that stood out during my hours with the game.
Developer: Targem Games
Publisher: Targem Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC