When it comes to some good competitive racing fun, the Mario Kart series has often been a reliable example that my friends, family and I can lose countless hours to over and over again. Whether we’re speeding through one of the many versions of Rainbow Road or simply unleashing a trio of Red Shells at each other in battle, the franchise continues to be a mainstay in our house. Offering a great balance of accessibility and depth, the series shows how racing games don’t necessarily need to be about uber-accurate looking cars and simulation handling to be fun. Which also makes it a shame we aren’t seeing more arcade racers releasing on Nintendo Switch, the console that is an ideal home for any newcomers.
Enter developer Giant Margarita – responsible for last year’s surprisingly fun and lighthearted Party Golf – who looks to fill the racer void with their Micro Machines-inspired release Party Crashers, a game that has all the makings of being another amusing multiplayer riot. Unfortunately, due to some pretty glaring issues, Party Crashers falls apart at the wheels feeling like a sorely missed opportunity.
Party Crashers’ goal is clear. Much like how Party Golf set out to turn the gentlemanly sport into a short, snappy and ridiculously crazy event; Party Crashers looks to offer a racing experience that’s just as accessible and even more bonkers. And while it might accomplish those goals it sadly doesn’t do much else beyond that. The game keeps things simple revolving around four racers each doing their very best to manoeuvre their way around race tracks while dealing with a silly amount of obstacles and modified rule sets. Anyone can jump in and be pulling off slick drifts after one or two laps.
While the game does offer a more traditional split-screen race option, the main draw is in its elimination mode. If you’re familiar with games like Mashed, Wrecked or the Micro Machines series then you’ll feel right at home here. In it, players race around a track sharing the screen – the action viewed entirely from a top-down perspective – while using an assortment of weapons to gain an advantage. Fall too far behind the pack and your cars will explode one by one until a single car remains. Points are then handed out and the process repeats. Weapons feel familiar ranging from mines and rockets to lightning attacks and shields adding another layer of chaos to the mix. While the game does include a battle option that pits you against one another in an arena-like environment as well as time trials, there’s little fun to be found with them. Elimination is the main event here.
If there’s one thing you have to admire with Party Crashers, it’s the sheer amount of customisable options the game allows you to tweak. Everything from the weaponry to winning conditions to the physics of the game can be swapped and switched via a rather intimidating series of menus. Want everyone to play as banana vehicles? Make it so colliding with others causes you all to bounce around? Or how about a combination of five or six modifiers? No problem, the game gives you the freedom to do so. Even the tracks offer a mix of fixed routes or procedurally generated.
With all the different aspects you can change, it’s just a shame so many of them feel so throwaway. Sure, there are small handfuls that affect the way the game plays out in an amusing way, but a large chunk just makes things either too fiddly, difficult or just a plain nuisance to play. Adding icy floors, removing walls or tossing a trailer to the back of each vehicle sounds like it would be a blast to try but rarely lasted more than one playthrough before the group moved back to the more vanilla options. Sometimes more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Party Crashers has a very similar look and feel to the previously released Party Golf, arguably too close. The menu music for example – aside from getting irritating very quickly – is a lame remix of an already lame song featuring in Party Golf. The sound effects and scoreboard animation also appear identical while the game takes place entirely in one uninspired Tron-looking environment. It just feels lazy.
Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the game though is just how rocky its frame rate is. Even when relatively little is happening on screen the game never feels as smooth as it should. This only gets worse as the action starts to heat up – particularly when weapons were being used. For a game that plays so fast and is all about reactionary driving, an unstable frame rate this bad is inexcusable.
Just as bothersome is the awkward camera which would at times randomly get stuck or flip to weird angles. Again when this features in a game that requires your full attention an unpredictable camera is far from helpful.
That being said there are brief moments of fun. If you’re with the right sort of group who are willing to look past the many flaws and simply laugh at how silly the game is then sure, Party Crashers can be an okay time. It’s also worth mentioning that the game is not worth purchasing if you’re looking for something single-player focused to sink your teeth into. This is certainly not that.
Playing Party Crashers fills me with disappointment not just because I’m witnessing a type of racer I have a fondness for done poorly, but because of the wasted potential on display. A Micro-Machines type racer would be a fantastic addition to the Switch library but sadly the wait for a worthy attempt will have to continue. Party Crashers is a flat out crash.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Giant Margarita