It’s been just under six months since Disney Speedstorm released in early access which could be accessed by buying one of a few founders packs, however, that access period is over, as September 28 marked the full release of the game and it’s now free-to-play for all.
Kart racing games are usually a difficult beast to tame, outside of Mario Kart and the Crash Team Racing remaster, hardly any other entry in this genre breaks it into being a mainstay or enough of a detraction to pull you away from the cream of the crop. Enter Gameloft and Disney hoping that their vast array of beloved characters and experience on the Asphalt series can break onto the track and push for the kart racing podium.
On The Right Track
Kart racing has been a surprisingly packed genre, with a whole host of different franchises and well-known characters taking their own stab at it, whether that be Formula 1 drivers, Hello Kitty, Mario, or even PlayStation’s very own Modnation Racers.
So it seems odd that it’s taken so long for Disney to unleash their backlog of beloved characters onto the race track. As of writing, the game has 37 playable drivers from 10 different franchises with more to be released each new Season. There are the beloved favorites like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, to classic princesses like Belle and Jasmine, as well as some more off-kilter choices like Figment, the mascot of the Imagination! pavilion at Epcot theme park. The game features 12 tracks with several alternate courses that all feel diverse and unique from each other thanks to Disney’s colorful worlds.
Whilst the Disney franchise is the bait to draw you in, it’s the on-track racing where thankfully the game truly shines. Speedstorm is more than just a competent racer on the track, Gameloft has applied their expert arcade racing know-how from the Asphalt series, resulting in an enjoyable arcade racer on the track. All of the karts handle well, and the feeling of zipping around corners is delightful. It feels accessible to pick up, and there’s just enough depth to get good at mastering race classes and tracks to grow.
Charge Up And Let Loose
Aiming to add their flair to the traditional kart racing formula, Speedstorm has implemented a charge mechanic to their skills — Weapon pickups — opening up more combat options on the track. The way it works is each skill will have a traditional use, or they can be charged to unleash a different attack. For example, if you have picked up a shield, you can simply activate it to grant a protective ring around yourself, alternatively, you can charge the skill to surround yourself in a charged red ring that will stun any opponent you bump into, turning a traditional defense skill into an offensive option. It’s a system that works well and opens up plenty of on-the-fly thinking, deciding how you want to implement your skills to get yourself ahead.
On top of the charged skill system, each racer will have a unique skill that unlocks once they are Rank 2, this is a skill that’s exclusive to them and can be extremely useful when used correctly. The best example is Hercules’ Meg whose skill on traditional use grants a boost bar and is extended for every racer she passes in that time frame, whereas she can charge it and leave a trail of purple behind her that will grant her a speed boost for any racer behind her crossing it. It’s a powerful skill that can be discharged in a variety of situations to catch up to the pack or keep yourself ahead.
Aside from the skill mechanics, Speedstorm also divides its drivers into one of four categories — Speedster, Trickster, Brawler, and Defender. Each character has a particular stat boosted, such as Speedsters have bonus speed stat, whereas Defenders have increased combat and acceleration stats. On top of their stats, they also have a unique class skill that is assigned to them, helping them make the most of their specialized area. The game itself doesn’t explain the differences very much at all, but you’ll likely be testing each character out yourself to see what style works best for you.
As you may expect, much like any free-to-play game content is limited and there are purchasable items, loot boxes and Season Passes to explore. Characters and bonuses can be unlocked through gameplay, but they won’t be the fastest method. It’s by no means a super grindy affair, thankfully. The biggest problem Speedstorm has is just how convoluted their in-game economy is.
- Tokens – The default currency for unlocking items, booster packs and boxes.
- Multiplayers coins – used to unlock multiplayer content loot boxes, shop items.
- Box Credits – Used to unlock loot boxes instantly.
- Season Coins – Used to unlock seasonal loot boxes, items in the store
There really is no need for it to be such a muddle of currencies, and the store’s layout can also feel overwhelming, making it feel more like a bombardment of items and options rather than a streamlined storefront to interact with — it’s all just a confusing mess.
On top of the currency, there’s character specific items you need to unlock. Earlier, I mentioned that you need to be Rank 2 to have access to your driver’s unique skill… well each racer can be ranked up by collecting character shards. From Level 1 all the way to Level 5, each level increases some stats and slots available for crew members (a token of a character that boosts stats). On top of that, you can level up your character outside of Ranks which will permanently improve the driver’s stats. I can say it’s rewarding to level up your favorite character, but the levelling is really how the difficulty is decided as there’s no difficulty setting — you have a recommended Rank for races and that’s it to gauge how hard this upcoming race will be.
Multiplayer is split into three core modes, with your offline multiplayer which can be played couch co-op on PlayStation 5 with up to four racers sharing the screen. Ranked multiplayer sees you use your own drivers and their current level and crew member boosts against other racers out there. Finally, there is Regulated multiplayer, which sets everyone to an even Level 30 without crew members for the most even racing experience. I’ve played a fair few races online, and despite most races running smoothly, there have been occasions where races started for some and not others or sometimes I would cross the line first, but the podium would say otherwise. It has been fairly quick to get in games, and I’ve never waited longer than 50 seconds to find a race, which is good, but online racing is certainly the best way to experience the best of Speedstorm’s frantic action, even if it can be temperamental.
Overall, Disney Speedstorm is a good kart racer. The overly complex in-game economy and lack of Grand Prix or other modes outside of single races may push some gamers away, and I wouldn’t blame them. At its core, this solid kart racer does just enough to make it worth checking out, but it won’t be challenging the title of Mario or Crash any time soon.
You can download Disney Speedstorm on PSN here.