Gotcha Racing (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Corey Wingate 04.10.2015

Review for Gotcha Racing on Nintendo 3DS

A bit of a budget offering, this racer by Arc System Works can seem a bit simplistic at first glance and in many ways it doesn't break away from that shallow appearance. However, aspects of Gotcha Racing deliver more than a casual experience for 3DS eShop buyers, featuring a surprising level of customisation and track selection to those willing to endure a slow start. The racers are in position, but does it all come together in a satisfying way or just drive off the track?

Gotcha Racing starts off without a lot of tutorial or advice on what to do. A car is generated from three core categories - body, engine, and tires - so that the player can begin racing to their heart's content and explore what's available in the way of tracks, which is rather limited at first due to the grade of car parts initially in reach. Grades go from F up to A, and, as expected, the cars generated for the starting grade aren't going to be much as contenders. No need to fret, though, as entering races is the key to buying better parts and moving up in the world. It is important to note that each grade has a Grand Prix waiting to be entered, which requires a first place finish to open the way to a higher grade. This structure works quite well overall, leading to a strong sense of accomplishment when a new grade is unlocked.

The controls are easy to learn as they consist of just two buttons: accelerating with the A button and braking with B. These functions are also by default mapped to the shoulder buttons, R and L, respectively. Steering is handled via the Circle Pad with no option to change to the D-pad, although acceleration and braking can be given a custom mapping. A drift manoeuvre can be performed to make turns easier simply by braking during a turn and then immediately accelerating afterward. Drifting is useful, but very powerful, forcing an extremely circular turn that is stopped by steering back the other way to end the drift. With practice, it helps make up for a car that has poor cornering or for those really extreme turns, but drifting may also slow the car down enough to lose position to a rival racer. Basically, the controls do their job without seeming hard to manage, mostly requiring the need to keep an eye on the map and pay attention to turn warnings that flash on the screen.

Tracks in Gotcha Racing are always given a basic breakdown to help gauge potential success, listing the amount of rivals, number of laps, and a view of the track layout to get a feel for how complex the turns are, but this does not really help at all with knowing just how hard the competition might be once the race begins. Many races just end up with the obviously stronger cars breaking completely away, forming packs along the track. It can be disheartening to end up in a pack that is way behind in the race, making it clear a better car is sorely needed in order to run with the big boys. Fortunately, there is a beginner's track that has no entry fee and a nice reward of 50-100G, the cost of an F grade capsule being 50G.

Screenshot for Gotcha Racing on Nintendo 3DS

What are capsules? Capsule machines, found in the shop listed in the main menu, are the way car stats are enhanced and how a better gotcha racer is made, working from the starter car and tweaking it to be a lean, mean, driving machine. A try at the capsule machine is totally chance based, however, so it can either be a rare part that comes out or a piece of junk. New car bodies, engines, tires, and accessories are all randomly possible parts to come out of a capsule, with many rare types possible, as well. The garage area stores up to four different vehicles to build from whatever parts have been generated from the shop, and even allows for overlap so that vehicles can share from parts already in use by other builds. This is a welcome feature as it is imperative to experiment with various builds until the right stats can be achieved, tweaking top speed, acceleration, cornering, drift, and brake stats.

The last topic of discussion for building a great vehicle involves the "combine" option in the shop. A rookie mistake would be to sell duplicate parts while collecting capsules, as any part in the list can be used as a base and combined with another part, improving a stat for the base part, but consuming the add-on so that it is permanently removed from the list. There is a lot of freedom in this process, which is both a remarkable touch but also a rather daunting aspect to progressing, especially due to the lack of guidance. Generally, it seems best to use one part to improve another of the same kind, at least in the beginning, but using a car body to improve an engine, for example, is not at all out of the question; careful attention must be paid to the success percentage listed when any adventurous combinations are attempted. Each part does have a limit to how many times it can be improved as displayed in the parts list when highlighted, and this clearly prevents grinding away to get an advanced part before properly moving up in grade.

There are a couple of interface and presentation shortcomings to complain about. The touch screen doesn't allow for stylus navigation of the rather involved menu system at all, which seems like a missed opportunity. The developers didn't entirely forget touch input, though, as a car horn accessory is available and controlled via taps on the lower screen, making it all the more questionable why menus were forgotten in this regard. A lot of time must be spent navigating through the menus to accomplish all of the customisation work, but the menus just aren't made to stand out much or keep things engaging. This makes it all feel a bit boring and sluggish, hampering what should be a fun process. The music for the menus can be a bit grating on the ears after a while, as well, due to the repetitive feel of it all. In general, the game's presentation comes off a bit lazy and uninspired, sadly.

Screenshot for Gotcha Racing on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Getting lost in the stat system of this eShop title is, admittedly, a rather tedious process at times. There is no way to just race for fun with a prebuilt racer, perhaps offering set stats that would give a guaranteed shot at winning instead of feeling held back a lot. Without such a mode, many gamers are likely to feel bogged down in the stats of working on a better car. In addition to this criticism, due to the action being spread across both screens in conjunction with the rather pulled back view of the gameplay, there is the likelihood of getting a bit disoriented by the more complex tracks while driving around, leading to what, at times, can feel a lot like bumper cars. Nevertheless, for those who can appreciate it, the customisation options will go a long way in making this a fairly lengthy gaming experience for a modest price. Gotcha Racing is certainly worth considering, perhaps as a light time waster to some, but more appropriately as a way to invest a lot of time in building the perfect car to rise through the ranks.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Natsume

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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