Animal Rivals: Up in the Air
Developer: Beast Games S.A.
Publisher: Console Labs S.A.
Genre(s): Action, Party, Racing, Arcade, Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC – Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 22/07/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Animal Rivals: Up in the Air is a racing game that sees you playing as one of nine square animal pilots, flying in a range of different planes using over 100 unique custom parts; each with their own statistics to create your very own dream flying machine. Race in a few different courses (event types such as normal race, death-match, capture the flag) against stiff competition in single race. Or, add modifications to your race such as speed types and weapons which will mix things up. Alternatively, play through the career mode in forty different stages, trying to win every race and unlock all the rewards.
Up in the Air
When starting up Animal Rivals: Up in the Air, you are presented with a very bare-bones presentation from the get-go. On first impressions the range of modes and tracks are pretty limited for a £10 eShop game. It almost feels like it’s a mobile port even though I’ve looked on the app store and couldn’t find a mobile version of the game anywhere.
Anyway, after starting up the game you have two main modes including a tutorial; single match and the career mode which is the main mode. The single match allows you to pick from nine square-like animals including a shark, hippo, lobster, and tiger to name a few. Then, you select from three different plane set-ups and a selection of skins, or choose to play as your very own creation in the custom garage. Here you can edit and customise your plane by unlocking over 100 parts from playing any mode in the game.
There are different statistics attached to each part you unlock, allowing you to build a very different plane in looks and stats which you can do to your heart’s content. After you’ve selected your plane you can select from a small selection of tracks. The tracks range from racing around the Golden Gate Bridge, through a traveling circus, or around huge dancing cup-cakes, as well as through a spider infested clock tower and a bustling city. While each track is diverse enough in how they are presented, it’s how the track is laid out which may stir up some unpleasant memories from the N64 era with Superman 64.
See here, you’re flying through green rings. While it’s nothing spectacular, it’s challenging enough, especially with the higher speed modifiers (thankfully these can be changed in the modifications option menu). The difficulty in the game is mostly down to the placement of each ring, while there is a indicator showing you the whereabouts of the next ring, you have very little time to react as some are closer than others. Meaning that sometimes you’ll really have to twist and pivot around the track to hit each one dead on. Missing one can cost you the race as you won’t be allowed to carry on and you’ll need to respawn, losing your lead in process. Controls can also take a while to get used to as each stick controls turning, pivoting, accelerating making for an interesting control scheme.
There’s also a career mode to play that allows you play through forty challenges, each with different event types such as: standard race, elimination, demolition, capture the flag and drag race. Different events really spice up the gameplay from becoming mundane. Though I found the deathmatch maps far too small to play properly. You can also unlock a lot of different plane parts and stickers in this mode that you can use in the garage to customise your plane further. Stages are bite-sized, so you can play for a few hours or play one or two during a train or bus journey.
So, unlocking plane parts is as simple as just playing the game in either single player matches or career mode. These unlocks are all random so you’ll never know what you might pick up, be it stickers, wings, tails, propellers, wheels etc. Each part of the plane can be changed, coloured and edited, which is a nice little edition to package. I liked it a lot, though the starter items are pretty limited. Also I did encounter a strange bug that made all the HUD disappear and I had to do a hard reset for the game to restore it.
Performance isn’t too bad in Animal Rivals: Up in the Air. Certain stages fair better than others, such as Golden Gate Bridge was fairly stable, but I noticed some odd screen tearing pop-up in circus stage while flying over the field near the big tent. The graphics are bright, colourful and while they’re nothing outstanding, they do a decent job. I did find the cake, treat track had a very strange colour palette which hurt my eyes after a few minutes of play.
Animal Rivals: Up in the Air isn’t the best racer in world but it’s a decent one. The game could do with a few more staple modes like time trial and online multiplayer, for example, to flesh out options. There is a local multiplayer player option for a second person, there’s a lot to unlock for your plane in terms of custom parts and completing all forty stages in career which could add extra replayability. But after that, there’s little reason to return once you’ve got everything unless, of course, you like playing the local multiplayer. Not a bad little time waster but there are better racing games already available on the Switch’s eShop that will give you more bang for your buck. Though I can’t deny, even though it’s not a top-notch racer, it’s playable for a weekend gaming session if you don’t want to spend too much money – it’s a decent little budget title.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can buy Animal Rivals: Up in the Air in the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.