Race With Ryan – Xbox One Review
Upon receiving Race With Ryan for review, my first thought was “who’s Ryan?” A small enthusiastic looking young boy popped up on the title screen, so I assumed that must be Ryan, but the question remained “Who the hell is Ryan?”. A internet search later confirmed my suspicion that I may not be in the core demographic that this game is aimed at. For those also in the dark, Ryan is a young kid who is a YouTube phenomenon, the star of the Ryan’s World channel. He is very much a big deal, with over 22 million subscribers tuning into videos of him and his parents trying out all the latest new toys and games coming onto the market. The daily videos Ryan makes with his parents has made this 8 year old a millionaire a few times over, and Race With Ryan is the latest in a series of licencing deals that expands the whole brand.
The title of the game gives a pretty good description of what youre getting, as this is standard arcade kart racing, with obvious influences coming from Mario Kart and all the classics that came after it. For Ryans fans, the characters will be familiar, as favourites from the channel like Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda are included as playable characters, as well as Ryan in various different vehicles. As the game is very family oriented the characters are all toned down and bland to adult eyes but I suspect the young fans will love to play as their favourites.
There are only six tracks in the game, all with different kiddie friendly themes like the wild west or Halloween, and although you can race each track in both directions, a choice of just 12 races seems far too low a number for a racing game. At least the few tracks that are present have a decent standard of design, with some tight turns, slopes and a few short cuts to take advantage of. There is a bit more choice when it comes to picking characters and vehicles, so the kids can pick their favourites which have enough diversity despite all driving the same. Just make a choice on a cosmetic preference as they all go the same speed and have identical handling despite the different appearances.
The Career mode will keep the kids entertained with its different cups to try and win. Each cup series has 3 races, except for the last one, which has double the number of races at 6. Winning the cups at their different difficulty levels (Easy, Medium or Hard) will unlock extra vehicles as well as giving you a nice trophy. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Career mode wasn’t just a single player experience, but the four player split screen was also available. No online mode though, but that’s no great loss considering the target audience for this. If you’re only having a short session on the game, the Quick Race mode does what the title says giving you one off races of your choice.
Despite the lack of depth or character in Race With Ryan, the actual mechanics of the racing is pretty good. The cars drive smoothly, and the power sliding works well to get you round those tight corners, and although its not these aren’t the fastest kart races, theres enough speed and action to make it fun, especially when playing split screen with friends.
Because the game is aimed at young kids, the power ups are all very family friendly, and to be honest, a little tame to be that exciting. A paper plane will act like a homing missile, the shield is in the form of three hamburgers rotating round your vehicle, and you can roll tennis balls behind you to stun your rivals. The power up I did like was the ability to drop an egg that that fool other racers into thinking its another power-up but turns out to be a booby trap to stun them. The power-ups are certainly what you’d expect from a Mario Kart inspired racer, albeit toned down for the younger audience. The very young players are catered for very well, with acceleration and steering assists that can be turned on in a player specific way, meaning the whole family can compete against each other on a more even level.
Fans of Ryan’s YouTube channel will be pleased to know that he features heavily in the game, giving you little sound bites and popping up screen during races whenever something occurs. He pops up a little too often for my liking, but I may have a lower threshold than the kids for finding Ryan annoying with his faux enthusiasm. Ryan and his family also feature in some cut scenes, and the quality of these in both sound and vision is surprisingly poor. I’d expect the high production value of the Ryan’s World YouTube posts to be repeated in a licenced game, but they look like they have been phoned in, quite literally, and not on a good phone!
In a genre of game that sets the bar quite high, Race With Ryan is a disappointment if taken at face value, but the plus point is that it’s aimed at the very young gamer and their families, so it is making kart racing to a wider demographic then usual. Its only really worth taking the plunge and forking out for this game if you’re an existing fan of the franchise, as otherwise you won’t be really getting value for money and could be left disappointed by the lack of depth on offer. The grown ups might be left wanting more, but the very young will be more content taking on the challenge of Race With Ryan.
Developer: 3D Clouds
Publisher: Outright Games
Many Thanks to Swipe Right PR for the review copy.