Stock car racing is known for being very high-speed and exciting. Thus, it’s no wonder why it translated so well to the world of video games, primarily with classics like Sega’s legendary Daytona USA series. But nowadays, you don’t see much of this genre in the gaming world. Speedway Racing seeks to finally bring such a title over to the Switch. Well… it brought it, but this isn’t exactly what I expected.
Speedway Racing does manage to live up to its name by featuring high-speed races across six NASCAR-like tracks based on real-world American cities. The gameplay is also spread across four game modes with 11 cars to race with. Oddly enough, there are drastic differences in the stats between each car, which isn’t usually how stock car races operate. That said, Speedway Racing doesn’t really function like traditional stock car racing.
While the mechanics for doing so are present, the game’s physics and coding prevent that from happening. The cars feel very grippy, as if they’re being pulled to the ground. But once they slam into each other, they go flying like plastic toys. While stock car racing can have some pretty nasty crashes, the ones in Speedway Racing happen far too often.
Screeching to a halt
Literally seconds after the beginning of a race, there’s often at least a handful of cars smacking into one another or against the first curve. Recovering from a crash takes several precious seconds. For some reason, it’s as if the car itself becomes dazed and needs a moment to catch up. There’s a respawn button, which is essential to actually get back in the race. But honestly, I have yet to complete a traditional race in the game due to running out of time. You see, every race (minus Time Trial) features a countdown clock that gains time as you move up a lap. With the constant crashing, I usually only get to make it halfway into the several-lap race before getting slammed with a “Game Over” screen.
To add insult to injury, Speedway Racing in motion is as janky as its gameplay. With the 19 other AI racers on the track, the frame rate chugs along somewhere in the 20 FPS range.
This is not smooth at all and makes playing such a fast-paced game feel odd. While the actual visuals are decent enough, the frame rate just isn’t great regardless of whether being played in docked or handheld mode. In Time Trial, since it’s only you on the track, the game does seem to hold 30 FPS, but only there. It seems like just with the gameplay itself, proper tweaking wasn’t done to make sure Speedway Racing was optimized for Switch. No wonder it was announced with just screenshots and no trailer.
Overtake this scrap heap
I’ve played a good chunk of racing games on the Switch at this point, and Speedway Racing is by far the lowest effort I’ve seen yet. If it functioned properly and ran smoother, then it would at least be worthy of consideration as a compact title. But in this state, you’re better off avoiding it and picking just about any other racer. Sega Ages: Virtua Racing isn’t stock car racing like this, but it does have similar arcade-style circuit tracks. It’s about the closest thing, and despite being one of the earliest 3D racing games ever, it’s a far more enjoyable experience than this poor indie.
A review code was provided by the publisher.