Game Review: Ben 10 Galactic Racing (PS Vita)

Taking established franchises and tagging them onto racing games rarely works, even more so when the license wasn’t based around racing in the first place. Cartoon Network show Ben 10 made its way over to the PS Vita, transferring many of its popular characters and locations into a Mario Kart styled racer…

Who Is Ben 10?

For those of you not familiar with it, Ben 10 started life back in 2005 and has to-date spawned seven television shows and several movies. It centres around the main character Ben Tennyson, a young boy who finds an alien device. Attaching itself to his wrist, it gives him the ability to transform into a range of alien creatures, each with their own distinct skills and abilities. He uses these skills to protect the Earth from attack from alien invasion.

But… A Racing Game?

Each race follows the same basic formula. Set on different planets throughout the galaxy taken from the Ben 10 universe, races take place over a fixed number of laps, competing against seven AI opponents and using random weapon pick-ups along the way to help you/hinder your adversaries. These respawn shortly after being collected in the same way as Mario Kart and most other racers in the genre.

On to the races themselves and the game is split into two main sections – single and multiplayer (which I’ll come on to shortly). From there you are presented with a further choice of five race modes. The Galactic Grand Prix is first up and puts you in a series of courses, set across different planets. You start off with a choice of 9 playable characters, each with a couple of vehicles at their disposal. More tracks and characters will be unlocked as you play so this is the main game mode you’ll need to master if you want to see everything the game has to offer.

Other Modes

Short Circuit is next up and offers a cut-down version of the Grand Prix allowing you to create a customised three-track race built around any that you have unlocked. Next on the list is Single Race which is self-explanatory and is ideal for those wanting a shorter, quick game.

Following that are the Time Trials. Again, this mode is restricted to the tracks you’ve already unlocked, but this time you’re on your own. Three laps and the only power-ups you collect are speed boosts and you have to race as fast as you can to get your best overall track time.

The final single player mode is Showdown. There are actually three further modes in here, each themed around solo or team-based vehicular combat. Ultimate Alienation puts all the racers into an an arena environment, while Ultimate Elimination is a standard race with a twist… a timer runs throughout the game and when this counts down to zero the racer in last position is eliminated. When there’s only one driver left the race is over.

Multiplayer Action

There’s a local multiplayer mode using the Vita’s ad-hoc function allowing up to 8 people/AI drivers to take part in each race. Most of the single player modes are retained with the exception of the Galactic Grand Prix and the Time Trials. With no online mode it’s obviously dependent on knowing others who have this, and with it being such a niche title in the first place it’s unlikely that many of you will ever get to experience multiplayer on this one.

In terms of the gameplay, there’s certainly no shortage of options and game modes and you certainly won’t get bored. There’s plenty in the core game on it’s own, but add all the extra game modes and there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for a long time. Well, there would be on paper if it wasn’t for a few fundamental problems that the game has…

Drives Like A Brick…

Unfortunately, what lets Ben 10 Galactic Racing down is the physics engine. What could have been a fun, albeit simplistic kart racer, is hampered by the way the cars feel as they travel around the circuits. Sadly, they just don’t feel right and seem to glide around each of the tracks and you never get the sensation that you are in control of cars that are travelling along different terrain.

It isn’t just the feel of the cars though. More often than not, I found that they weren’t as responsive as they should have been and as such didn’t take corners particularly well. Add in to this some particularly unforgiving tracks (hazards throwing you off the track and too many edges you could fall off) and it stopped the game from being fun.

Where Am I Again?

Another problem I had was the track design itself. Disregarding the unforgiving nature of some of them that I’ve already mentioned, the design of some made it quite difficult to actually ascertain which way you were supposed to be going until it was too late. Tracks weren’t overly cluttered but routes were just hard to make out until you were right on top of turns or walls.

It also suffered from what I call the Mario Kart syndrome. Frequently I found myself either leading a race, or near to the front of the field only to get bumped and ending up right at the back. Almost immediately I’d taken multiple hits from opponents, bumped off the track and had no chance of winning. As much as I love Mario Kart, it’s the one thing I loathe about that game and it’s present here as well.

Are There Any Good Points?

All of this is a great shame. It is a somewhat polished game and makes reasonably good use of the Ben 10 license. The fact that the original voice cast have returned to lend their voices to the cut scenes and characters is a huge plus point and will delight fans of the series. And the interactive environments and trackside hazards help to add variety on top of the special weapons unleashed upon you by the AI opponents you have to contend with.

Despite a number of games being released across multiple formats over the years, this is the only one to have made it across to the Vita. Whether this was as a result of poor sales of Ben 10 Galactic Racing or simply the Vita’s demographic audience not matching that of Ben 10’s is unknown. But it’s interesting to see that what was essentially a game aimed at children could have helped the console were more released in the series.

Ultimately though, this is a racer that will only really appeal to fans of Ben 10. It’s not strong enough to stand up as a good racing game in its own right and it’s too reliant on the licence to gloss over its weaknesses. Fans will no doubt relish in the characters, superb voice work and references to the shows, but as for anyone else… you’ll be left wondering what the fuss is all about and find it far too frustrating to be enjoyable.

At A Glance

  • Title: Ben 10 Galactic Racing
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download / Physical
  • Memory Card Spare Required: TBC
  • Cross Buy: N/A
  • Cross Play: N/A
  • Online Multiplayer: N
  • Local Multiplayer: Y
  • PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes

Vita Player Rating - 05

Facebook Comments

About Simon Plumbe 1064 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe