Scream if you wanna go slower!
With the Nintendo Switch eShop becoming chock-a-block with more and more indie releases every day, it always helps to have a game provide an unexpected twist to the genre it sits within. Brakes Are For Losers is one such game, smartly looking to reinvent what players typically expect from the classic top-down racers which used to fill arcades. An inability to slow down serves as the twist in this case, but what seems fun in theory can too often succumb to chaotic unruliness.
If there’s one element Brakes Are For Losers has going for it, it’s that despite being a racer, the game very much has a tone and sense of humour of its own. If you hadn’t already guessed by the title, Brakes Are For Losers isn’t afraid to taunt and mock you for even just considering the possibility of slowing down. From the load up screen which proudly boasts “Winners don’t use brakes” to the in-game ability to do so costing a knowingly ridiculous amount of currency, it’s easy to see how little touches like this could really make someone determined to ‘git gud’ as it were.
It’s unfortunately when the actual act of racing is required that Brakes Are For Losers’ blemishes start coming to light. The only control you have over your car is to honk, turn, and boost, for example, the latter of which only being valuable when presented with an oh so rare stretch of the track. Even then that’s only for those feeling brave. Your car being in a constant state of forward motion is a quirky hook, but this lack of control can make duking it out against AI or other players a constant source of chaos and confusion.
A standard championship lasts a total of 10 tracks each lasting 30 seconds. During this time Brakes Are For Losers challenges you to stay ahead of the pack until the time runs out rather than completing a series of laps, rewarding the highest rank with the most points by each race’s end. Pretty standard stuff, but with seven other vehicles on the track at any one time, at times it’s hard to make out which one you’re even control of.
The game’s one saving grace is that races actually get easier the more the championship goes on. This is because of your necessity to spend earned points into upgrades between races, upgrades which improve racing elements like handling, speed, armour, and the aforementioned use of breaks – though good luck unlocking that! It’s another unique quirk that Brakes Are For Losers sadly misjudges. After all, what good is it making the first race of 10 being the hardest pill to swallow?
When not trying to make out your fly-sized vehicle in either quick race or championship, challenge mode is there for those looking to truly master the ways of brakeless top-down driving. Requiring you to complete a variety of tracks to secure the best time most perfect run possible, it’s here where players can learn each route distinctively if they feel the need to. Completing a track without touching the sides is achievable on your own but isn’t much help when the time comes to go toe-to-toe with up to seven others.
As a package, Brakes Are For Losers offers fans of the racing genre plenty of twists they won’t find elsewhere. It’s just disappointing that many of these are better in theory than in practice. The game isn’t particularly the best to look at either, and with it generally being difficult to tell what’s eve going on at times, I can only imagine the game appealing to petrolheads who are also gluttons for punishment.
Brakes Are For Losers lives up to the promise of being a totally different kind of racer, but sadly these differences are all too often more infuriating than they are fun.