With such a diverse range of games that have been released in the last two years and such varying degrees of quality, it’s not a surprise that many PS Vita owners are wary when it comes to PlayStation Mobile. Even the promise of PSM making greater use of the Vita’s capabilities with the advent of Unity hasn’t swayed many to it’s cause and looking at some of the early Unity releases it’s no wonder but Tiziano Bizzini hopes to change that with the PlayStation Mobile port of his iOS racing game AeroDrift…
Jaggy Race! can be best described as being a platform based, stunt kart racer but unlike most racers where you’re competing against other drivers, in Jaggy Race! it’s just you, your kart and a series of sprawling tracks across varied terrain… oh, and there are sheep as well, but more on them later!
Split over 6 different themed worlds, each containing six different tracks, your goal is to complete a set number of laps of each track within the time limit for each. Instead of twists and turns in the track itself, the game takes the form of a side-on view and your focus is more on negotiating the obstacles in your way – razor-sharp circular saw blades, electrified fences, gaps to jump over, and sheep to dodge or drive into for bonuses! Control of the kart is simplicity in itself – while there is no steering involved, the game relies completely on your skill at acceleration and mastering the speed of your kart and precise timing of jumps along each of the tracks. You have full control of the kart’s forward and reverse movement (and for most of the tracks you’ll need to master both), jumping and brakes.
The tracks themselves get progressively more difficult as you move through the game starting off gently with the tutorial levels to some of the fiendishly tough tracks that will have you negotiating twists and turns as your kart flips between surfaces, and defies gravity at breakneck speeds. Special mention here has to be given to the look of the game. While it takes a 2D approach (with the basic gameplay reminiscent of the 8-bit classic Kickstart), it is presented in full 3D and it looks absolutely stunning, easily one of the best looking PlayStation Mobile games so far and the screenshots really don’t do this game justice.
The game can be viewed in two different modes – a straightforward 3D perspective that is more reminiscent of the 2.5D angles seen in games like Batman: Arkham Origins and other games, or a more dynamic 3D camera mode that showcases the game’s 3D engine wonderfully although it can take a little getting used to.The 3D engine is something that really showcases the power that Unity has brought to PlayStation Mobile and it runs along at a superb pace with no slowdown at all during gameplay. The graphics are bold, colourful, well defined with plenty of variety between the worlds and full of nice touches from your driver turning his head to look in the direction of travel to the spinning blades of the circular saws that are ready to send you to your impending doom…
Back to the tracks and while there are no other cars to race against, each has a set time limit in which they have to be completed. There are three time goals set at the start and the faster you complete the track the more stars you earn up to a maximum of three. Complete all five main tracks in each world with two stars each (or three tracks with the maximum three stars) and you unlock the sixth and final bonus track. Unlike other challenge-based racers, there’s no particular order in which you have to tackle each of the worlds as they are all available from the start although the tracks themselves need to be played through in order. In addition to the extra tracks, the game starts you off with a choice of two different karts (although the only difference between the two appears to be cosmetic) but a further six are available to unlock throughout play.
The game itself is incredibly addictive and is one that I’ve found to be incredibly hard to put down. As I mentioned at the start, like so many recent PlayStation Mobile games that have come out since the advent of Unity it’s a port from iOS but this is one of those games that is proving that porting games from other platforms by way of Unity is paying off dividends for the Vita. There’s very little I can find to fault with this and it’s not only one of the best PSM games that I have played but one that could stand up on its own as a regular PS Vita release at the same asking price. My only real reservation is that the difficulty settings on one or two of the tracks could do with a slight tweak here and there but apart from that it’s a remarkable game and a real highlight for the format.
Sadly, unlike all PlayStation Mobile games there’s no option anymore for online leaderboards to compete against your friends but the continual challenge for long-term repeat play is still there as you are drawn back to keep trying to shave those extra seconds off your personal best scores or eradicate those pesky sheep. When you’re starting to get to grips with the game, you’ll be more eager to battle to get more stars to unlock the bonus tracks but as these can be done through earning two stars rather than three, but as such there’s plenty of life in the game with some of the times needed to earn three stars challenging even the best players.
This is a real gem for PlayStation Mobile – it came out of nowhere and really stands out from the crowd as being one of the best games available for PSM right now. Offering plenty of variety and more than enough longevity to keep even the most hardened of gamers happy, this represents incredible value for money and is a game that’s perfectly suited to the Vita. If you’re after a great pick-up-and -play game that you can enjoy in short bursts that you’ll return to over and over again, then this is the game for you. An essential purchase.
At A Glance
- Title: Jaggy Race!
- Publisher: Tiziano Bizzini
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 148Mb