Shin’en Multimedia’s Maximum Velocity, futuristic FAST Racing NEO has been an incredibly popular topic of discussion across my social media feeds over these last few days; with the hype leading up to its launch last week perhaps even rivalling today’s final Super Smash Bros. For 3DS/Wii U presentation. When the game was showcased in the most recent Nintendo Direct, the alluring need for speed ignited sparks within an audience whose racing experience on the platform likely hadn’t extended further than the cartoony Mario Kart 8. The video game industry has been taught a few harsh lessons about hype over the last few years however, so I will of course be exploring whether FAST Racing NEO lives up to expectations.
It would perhaps be useful to point out that although the Italian plumber’s foray into go-kart racing introduced a 200cc option earlier this year, even notice racers were given the opportunity to enjoy a steady learning curve starting with the simpler 50cc grand prix, I imagine Shin’en Multimedia expected the audience of this title to already be experienced racers as even the self-proclaimed notice difficulty can prove to be an unruly Beastman and a challenge for anyone not already familiar with the feel of a figurative digital wheel. This will no doubt be Lucy Brilliant for genre enthusiasts looking for their latest fix, but may admittedly prove a daunting experience for newer drivers.
Occasionally on dog walks I find my trek interrupted by a jogger requesting I move aside to not interrupt their pace and initially I thought this was just stubbornness, but losing my lead in FAST Racing NEO to the slightest crash or bump and having to struggle back to the top from last place has taught me that perhaps I should be more respectful of joggers – although some of the get-ups they wear can look ridiculous. Even when playing on the novice difficulty, I found that losing my pace more than once in any given race would leave it impossible for me to catch up and become a GP Legend, with the CPU opponents having already zoomed on ahead. This ultimately means memorising the lay-out of a track is your best strategy, but the designs of some of them could need some tweaking. Sunahara Desert’s ill-defined boundaries and hazards prove especially frustrating when the announcer calls me out on attempting to take a short-cut when all I’m actually doing is trying to get back on the marked track. Fortunately, courses are not only visually unique but each possess their own quirks and gimmicks that helps keep the momentum of each Cup, as opposed to other games where your interest may wane before the climatic race. Although vibrant and detailed backgrounds are sacrificed in favour of optimising the fast-paced gameplay, FAST Racing NEO does feature a number of striking visual effects such as the rainfall on Storm Coast that often leaves droplets dripping down the screen.
Performance wise, FAST Racing NEO plays like an absolute dream regardless of whether I’m charging down the track by myself, with others via local split screen or with complete strangers from across the globe with no noticeable dips in quality despite the individual challenges each game mode presents; resulting in this game achieving a rare feat of the online experience being as seamless as the offline.
For those of you looking for a new multiplayer experience, rest assured that this game boasts an impressive roster of compatible controllers that is matched only by Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, leaving a multitude of available options should you only have a finite amount of a particular controller. This means that although friends and I will no doubt fight over my lone Wii U Pro Controller, they’ll be able to play with a Wii Classic Controller Pro or Wii Remote once they’ve remembered their place. I personally found that the Wii U’s GamePad and Pro Controller were my preferred methods to play the game due to a combination of the button layout and ergonomics of the units themselves. I was disappointed however, to learn that the game doesn’t take advantage of the GamePad’s unique capabilities; with the second screen simply providing constant Off-TV play instead of a course map; although perhaps that’s for the best as I imagine that even a split second spent looking at the GamePad could cause a game-changing crash!
I also found the motion controls so unresponsive that I simply cannot recommend using the Wii Wheel peripheral; this is definitely a game to play with traditional controls!
Arguably the best thing about FAST Racing NEO however, has to be its incredible value for money. In a time when the pricing and quality of independent games can fluctuate with little rhyme or reason, Shin’en Multimedia are offering a title with gameplay rivalling even big-budget genre leaders. If you find yourself strapped for cash this holiday but still want to introduce a new, fun multiplayer experience to your living room, you can’t go wrong with splashing out £10.99 for FAST Racing NEO.
Disclaimer: A copy of “FAST Racing NEO” was provided by Shin’en Multimedia for the purposes of this review.