Rally racing is known for being rough, tough, and intense. After all, it’s all about conquering the badlands of a region. Lightning-fast reflexes are necessary to keep the car planted on the ground as it zigzags through tight turns, often on uneven terrain. Whether it’s drifting through corners, snapping through chicane, or volleying off short jumps, a rally driver has to be focused on his surroundings and have a true relationship with his car in order to get a good track time. This is the Art of Rally, and this is our Nintendo Switch review of it.
Mystical and dramatic introduction aside, Funselektor’s Art of Rally truly does a great job at capturing the spirit and feel of a decent rally racer. While it doesn’t seek to be as cutthroat and realistic as something like the WRC titles, it still does a good job at providing an authentic experience despite a simplistic visual style that isn’t its best on Switch.
Art of Rally takes players on a journey throughout different countries, each with their own unique geography and topography, from the green countrysides of different parts of Europe, to the gravel-heavy paths of different parts of Africa. Art of Rally does a good job at giving players a global challenge, as each difference in country also leads to the challenge of driving in different climates. For instance, just as there are dusty tracks in the summer, there are snowy tracks in the frigid winter, each feeling different to drive on.
Thankfully, there are a lot of paved road tracks as well. These are by far the easiest to handle, especially in vehicles that have good weight distribution and handling. Speaking of which, there’s a pretty decent list of cars on offer here in Art of Rally. While none of them are actually licensed, the designs are extremely close to their real-world equivalents. Thus, any car enthusiast would easily be able to pick out what each car is “supposed” to be.
For instance, there are knockoffs of classics like the Ford Escort, Renault Turbo, and more. There are also more modern and powerful rally cars as well. As is the case in real life, these vehicles are all separated into varying categories of capabilities, known as “Groups.” Group 2 is the lowest end, with Group A coming out on top. The difference is intense, as Group 2 cars tend to max out at around 100hp, whereas Group A cars have engines that crank out 800hp or more. Despite the higher-end cars being so much more capable, they still feel controllable. Each vehicle has a pretty good feeling of weight to it, and the physics allow for fluid drifts and solid braking as long as you manage your throttle and brake triggers properly. Unlike in a lot of other racing games, you’re not required to buy new cars here in Art of Rally. Instead, they’re gradually awarded to you by successfully completing events in the game’s Career mode.
Art of Rally Career mode is pretty much a stylized virtual worldwide tour of rally racing history. Each season takes places at a certain point in history between the ’60s and the ’80s, and they gradually ascend from driving the most simple cars in the aforementioned Group 2 to the turbo beasts of the coveted Group A.
Progression totally depends on how well you place on the leaderboards at the end of each race. A fast time is the key, though there’s no way to know how well you’re doing compared to the other drivers until the end of the race. This is a bit of a bummer, as at least a + or – indicator after each checkpoint would’ve been good. Nevertheless, the AI difficulty can be adjusted to ensure a true challenge or to make things easier for novices.
Indeed, Funselektor’s Art of Rally provides a pretty balanced experience. With its unique isometric perspective and variety of landscapes and vehicles, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The one downside I found is, rather weirdly, its art style. Art of Rally sports a simple low-poly stylized look, similar to older titles like Virtua Racing. Such art styles are known for looking really clean and pleasing due to the use of bright colors and soft effects, and Art of Rally does feature all of that — but its beauty is limited by a low level of detail in objects.
Objects very obviously get more complex as you approach, and you can clearly see the sphere of detail crawl along with you as drive. This has been an unfortunate drawback of a lot of titles on Switch, but seeing it in such a simplistic title like this is perplexing. That and the frame rate also being locked to 30 FPS make for a less than ideal visual showcase, though it still looks decent enough.
Nevertheless, this is a small bump in the road for what is otherwise an all-around solid little racing Nindie. Art of Rally is certainly worth the pickup for anyone looking for a simple jump-in-jump-out driving experience, and it nicely fits the on-the-go design of Nintendo Switch.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Art of Rally was provided by the publisher.