By Robert Wheatley – Head of Editorial
SkidStorm’s exactly what it says on the tin, and that’s perfect because it gives you exactly what you’d expect. Immobile Games’ SkidStorm is a cutesy car racing game where you manoeuvre your toony vehicle through a variety of isometrically-viewed tracks, challenging other cars to a race across the finish line.
What makes SkidStorm as a mobile gaming app stand out a little more from other racing titles isn’t just its pleasant, geometrical graphics style and vantage point, but the mechanism that aids your ability to win or lose each race: drifting.
Each track sports a decent number of twisty turns that allow your car to build up its boost meter via skidding, a little similar to the feature in the Mario Kart series which lets you speed up after a drift. After you’ve filled the meter up to a bright yellow you’ll unlock your nitrous so you can charge ahead of the other racers.
While many racing titles possess some sort of boost mechanism, be it speeders on the road, or items you can magically pick up, SkidStorm provides no such thing: you’ll need to skid to succeed, or you’ll easily be left behind by the other cars as they use their built-up nitrous to leave you in their dust.
There are a couple racing modes to choose from, either Singleplayer or Multiplayer, with different events within these. In Single Player, you can choose from Career, Time Trial, Single Race and the Daily Challenge.
In Career you’ll progress through races with a set difficulty, the courses starting pretty simple and easy to navigate. Eventually, however, tracks will get longer, more obstacles will linger near the road, and you’ll go up against far tougher CPU racers with better cars.
Choosing Time Trial will put you up against another player’s lap time, and much like Single Race lets you choose the course, although the latter also lets you select the number of cars you’ll be facing, as well as their difficulty, and the lap amount. Daily Challenge sets up everything for you, including what car you’ll drive, meaning you’ll have to rely on your skills to earn you the daily prize.
Multiplayer is what you’d expect, letting you race with friends in hosted rooms or putting you up against random opponents in a Ranked Match which, akin to Career mode, gives you progressively tougher opponents and races as you climb the League ladder to the higher difficulty cups. Careful about disconnecting early from these, though, as you only get one free disconnect a week; otherwise, you’ll lose -30 trophies, which you need to progress through cups.
The better you do in a race means the better the prize will be. Coming in first place awards a variety of prizes from coins, diamonds, and gift-boxes (that let you watch an Ad to give you a greater-value prize), along with car parts.
If you collect enough car parts you’ll be able to unlock a ~BRAND NEW CAR~ (*rapid air horn honking*). New vehicles mean far greater speed, for a quick getaway; enhanced acceleration, for a rapid start after a turn or crash; stronger handling, for those pesky turns; better Nitro, for a longer-lasting boost; and tougher Off-road, so you can get back on the track quicker. All of these factors are, of course, vital in giving you a a higher chance of winning.
Upgrades are sorted out in the garage where you can spend your awarded coins to toughen your car’s parts, or give your car a paint job — for whatever reason, you’ll need to be online to do this, though. Car parts can also be purchased with diamonds, but winning them is far less costly. Unlock more car parts and you’ll eventually unlock far better cars with greater traits; some far more suited for off-road, and some that’ll let you blaze through the track with immense speed or handling.
So, what makes the game stand out? I love a game that doesn’t rely on simple button-mashing or luck, and requires skill to play; something I believe SkidStorm is all about.
Factors like off-roading, nitrous and drifting are part of what gives SkidStorm its difficulty. While boosting enhances your speed doing it at the wrong time can easily mess up a drift, and drifting too far can cause you to slip off the road. The game isn’t nice about you messing up, either: if you have to reset after drifting too far off course you’ll be stationed behind the other racers, meaning you’ll rarely get the chance to come in first place.
Drifting is also something you’ll need to get the hang of, as it’s not so simple as driving around a corner. Holding down the turn button may cause you to finish the corner too early, resulting in less of a build-up of nitro; or worse, result in a crash into an obstacle. Taking too long to drift also affects your race, with other cars using it as an advantage to get ahead of you. Essentially, drifting has to be timed, and you’ll need to remember how to manoeuvre each twist that you encounter.
The bot cars can be challenging, but facing other players tends to be tougher. Someone may know the track better than you, or possess a faster vehicle resulting in a difficult to achieve 1st place. Of course, you don’t need to come first, since coming second or third still awards you something, but the former obviously awards you far more.
The challenge factor isn’t the only thing I like about SkidStorm. I’m won over by the minimalist design Immobile Games has gone for: levels are bright and cheery, props are simple and geometric yet nicely shaded in what looks to be a blend of regular gradients, combined with a bit of cel shading. The cars themselves have more detail, perfect to highlight them as they careen through the track.
SkidStorm is currently in its alpha status, but it’s still fully functioning despite a few glitches, some freezes cropping up now and then. Otherwise, the game’s entirely playable, and as a free download is entirely worth your time if you’re looking for a racing game that provides a bit more of an edge and challenge in its gameplay.