UPDATE 2: (May 11, 2019) — Due to the 1.4 patch (linked below) fixing so many of the issues mentioned in the review, the score has been altered to reflect the PC version which launched in a much more complete state. These issues include pop-in and low framerate, all of which have been fixed. Thus, the original score of 3.5/10 is now 7/10. Please note that the wording in the original review has been unedited and is still representative of the state the game was in prior to this patch when it received the original 3.5/10 score.
UPDATE: (May 9, 2019) — A patch has been released (on 5/9/2019) which addresses many of the issues highlighted in this review.
Original review as follows…
3DClouds’ Xenon Racer turns the futuristic racing genre on its side by deliberately going against the status quo of creating yet another F-Zero/Wipeout clone. Instead, it takes place in a world set in the near future of the year 2030, where you’re put behind the wheel of 16 race cars that are the last of their kind before hover technology takes over.
Great concept, but…
Xenon Racer has a lengthy campaign that’s filled with fast-paced, heart-pumping races that kept me on edge, primarily due to its difficulty. Mastering the surprisingly complex drift mechanics and one-shot boost system is the key to winning. And winning is the only option, as every race is a fight for first and nothing less. This duel takes place literally across the globe as you tear up the track in real-world locales such as Miami, Shanghai, Canada, Tokyo, Dubai, France, and Boston. With your roster of cars and customization parts only growing as you progress through the Championship mode, Xenon Racer left me itching to come back throughout the 10 hours it took me to get to the final race. After I was finally done, it felt good and I was pleased with the package that 3DClouds has put together.
So, should you pick up Xenon Racer? If you don’t mind a bit of challenge and are yearning for a new fast-paced arcade racer, then by all means go for it. But take my advice—don’t buy it on the Nintendo Switch.
I know all of my words up until this point have been pretty positive. I wasn’t lying; I did enjoy my time with Xenon Racer. But I haven’t been referring to the Switch version—I was actually talking about the PC version of the game. I was given the review code for the PC version about two weeks ago, which led to me being able to have the review completed for our sister site, PC Invasion. The Switch code was delayed and was finally given to me on March 25—a day before release. Why the holdup? I speculate the dev team was either trying to scramble together a somewhat competent Switch port or simply trying to hide it until the last minute. Either way, this is a mess.
Content-wise, Xenon Racer is the exact same on Switch as the platforms. However, the Switch version has a frame rate of under 30 FPS that makes playing it very unenjoyable. Not only does it look choppy, but there’s noticeable input lag, which is extremely bad for such a fast-paced game. This makes the driving experience even more frustrating than usual since Xenon Racer is already a difficult game on its own.
The visual quality has also taken a massive hit. Admittedly, this is to be expected considering the Switch’s low horsepower, but the sacrifices made here make me question if porting the game was worth it at all. The lighting system is almost nonexistent, object pop-in is as bad as in the N64 days (seriously), and a lot of textures often struggle to load, making everything look muddy. Whether in handheld or docked mode, Xenon Racer simply looks and plays deplorably on the Switch in its current state.
But what’s really the most egregious thing about this situation is that none of this is reflected in the promotional material. As of the time of writing, the eShop listing for this game has screenshots and a trailer that is from one of the other platforms. The game doesn’t look or run anywhere near as good as what’s shown there. Even the launch trailer on Nintendo’s official YouTube channel is showing footage that’s non-representative of the Switch version.
All I can say is that I’m disappointed immensely by this. I’m disappointed in 3DClouds and Soedesco for letting the Switch version release in this state—it should have been delayed. I’m also disappointed in Nintendo’s management for allowing enhanced promo material to be distributed on their official channels and storefront.
Come back later
Xenon Racer for Switch needs some serious work. Do not buy it unless there’s an update. If you really want this game, get it on the other platforms—it’s quite good, actually. But this, at a whopping $50 dollars? Hard pass!
Release Date: March 26, 2019No. of Players: 1-8 playersCategory: RacingPublisher: Soedesco
A review code was provided by the publisher.