Asphalt 9: Legends | Switch Review

Small penis? How about jumping in a sports car to take your mind off the size of your manhood? If you’ve only got the budget for a hatchback, fear not – there’s a free-to-play title you can download on your Nintendo Switch: Asphalt 9: Legends – official site here. Time to wax it. The car, not your nob.

The bods at Nintendo were feeling generous recently as there was a HUGE sale on the Nintendo eShop. I wasn’t one of the first in line. I’ve been a Judas and been playing the PS4 quite a bit these days. However, I had a look at what was on sale. In particular, I had a butchers at the games on my watchlist and the titles that were 90% off. It was much easier to do a price search, and I ended up finding the free-to-play games, which is where I got Asphalt 9: Legends.

Judging a game by its cover, and trailer, Asphalt 9: Legends appeared to be a very polished title. Where’s the catch? These type of games tend to be filled with booby (heh) traps galore, asking for credit card details to unlock a new coat of paint. Not to fear – it’s free. I can always delete it. But guess what? I think it tops Virtua Racing as my favourite driving game on the Switch – notwithstanding Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, of course.

Tutorial level with a hypercar

Brian and his Cunning Stunts

From the outset, the visuals, soundtrack, effects and… gameplay, were terrific. For the Switch, at least. You play Brian, an interpretive dancer from Dundee who seeks out a career as a professional driver, Alas, he doesn’t have any money to buy a supercar. Instead, he starts off with a mere Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution(!) and starts winning some races. Brian gets a little teaser of what is meant to be as the tutorial grants you the pleasure of driving a supercar. To cut your teeth.

It is here you learn the mechanics of driving in Asphalt 9: Legends. Think Burnout meets Need for Speed (any of them), and you get an idea. This isn’t a simulator by any stretch of the imagination – if you aren’t burning rubber at ridiculous speeds, you’ll be airborne and barrel-rolling until your heart’s content. Asphalt 9: Legends implements a nitro system that has two layers; time it right and you get an added boost. Fill out the nitro to the max, and you create a shockwave, a.k.a. an ultimate boost with a snail trail of purples.

As we’ve determined that the game isn’t realistic, let’s insert here that you can do takedowns on fellow racers. While racing, bash into the other player and ram them into a stationary object, i.e. a brick wall. Perhaps a bit more silly is the unconventional way which is performing a 360 spin, thus temporarily sidelining the driver potentially better than you. It’s mad, but quite fun to do – albeit, there’s a slight slowdown as you’re literally spinning your car full speed.

Building some air in Asphalt 9: Legends

Taking the Scenic Route with Real Cars

Stages are real locations – from Scotland to the Himalayas, the variety of vistas are pretty cool. With Scotland in particular, you can race past a downed tanker with the waves splashing up against your car as you rocket past. On the opposite side of reality are the tracks – they feature ramps, underground areas and locations that aren’t what your typical Gran Turismo fan can expect, but hey – it’s fun. Did I mention that?

The cars in Asphalt 9: Legends are licenced – that means no Ridge Racer or GTA type models, but actual Porches, Ferrari’s and BMWs. Note I mention BMWs last as I drive one. You don’t think I’m a tosser, do you? Anyhoo, cars are ranked. You start off with the likes of a Lancer Evolution, or my favourite starter – the BMX Z4 E49. These are classified as D cars, going up through to S for the top tier. I mention supercars, but of course, the high end are deemed hyper. Such as the Skoda Yeti or Ford Fiesta.

Cars are levelled up through new parts. You can upgrade the top speed, acceleration, handling and nitro. With each upgrade is an increase to your overall car performance (each stage has a minimum requirement – i.e. Rank D, level 560 and above), but has a cut-off point. Further upgrades can be achieved with import parts, which you unlock with progression. Let’s explain the levelling up thing, shall we?

The 370Z unlocked

I Don’t See Nothin’ Wrong With A Little Bump N’ Grind

For car parts, you spend your coin. Get more coin from winning races, and you’ll find your car improves in no time. As the cars upgrade, so does the level of your garage, and with an improved garage comes better cars. One of the enjoyable parts of Asphalt 9: Legends is that you don’t have to go back to a level and come first in every race. Of course, there is the grinding element, and you can repeatedly play, but the amount of coin you get drops so can take a while (in-app purchases, hint hint). 

There are also tokens and blueprints to scavenge. Tokens are awarded for the challenges completed in a race. These aren’t fixed goals, all you do is add to the tally of cars destroyed, objects smashed and yards drifted to name a few. Complete each section, and you will unlock tokens. In turn, these can be used to speed up the time when refilling your car. Each car has a set amount of ‘turns’. When these run out, you have to refuel your car. This is essentially a timer in real-time – be it minutes, or hours until you can use the car again.

Instead of winning cars outright, you win blueprints to a vehicle. Unlock the required amount, i.e. five blueprints to win, say, a Camaro and the new car will appear in your garage. Higher-end vehicles necessitate a large number of cards, and you only get one or two at a time, plus they’re random as a frog doing opera in a carton of Capri Sun. You might get cards for an existing car, ranking it up even further, or a car you don’t want. It’s all a bit of a tombola really – you never know what you will get, and most likely the reason why people will pump money into the game – to fast-track the process of unlocking new vehicles.

Camaro shockwave

Nice Grills, But What Else Is Going For It?

Asphalt 9: Legends is attractive, entertaining and features a career mode that will take an age to finish. When you do get further in the game, the level spikes so you’ll either have to be a decent driver or put your hand in your pocket. This is what will put a lot of people off. To progress in the later stages, or if you’re impatient and want everything now, you might need to invest in the starter pack or buy some coin for some coin. This is entirely optional of course. Just because your local supermarket sells alcohol, doesn’t mean you have to buy it – there’s always a choice, so stop whinging and buy that keg.

Bored to tears with the endless career mode? Jump into a multiplayer game – or even try one of the many challenges. There are daily and weekly ones that allow you to unlock loot (parts or blueprints) and aim to rank within the top percentage of players. Asphalt 9: Legends does try every trick in the book to entice you to spend your money, but it isn’t mandatory. Note that there will be endless notifications of events to take part in or recommendations to buy some coins that are decent value. This is a game that has a home in mobile gaming too…

It is refreshing that there weren’t any pop-up adverts throughout the game, though. Apart from buying more coins or tokens, how else will the developers make their money? It really is excellent value for money (it’s free) – there’s no paywall that you must unlock a specific car. Though it would help, that’s fo’ sure.

It's snow time! Big air in the alps?

Spare Change, Guv?

You’ve been edged to this moment with your successive winning run and are about two more blueprints away from unlocking a hypercar. Do you wait it out for your next race, or do you buy some time? It’s all very persuasive, and the nature of the beast. Time to show mum and dad that you are a grown-up and can be sensible with money, or locate their credit card and buy some tokens. Don’t do that, though. That’s stupid. Go play with some matches instead. 

There was a time when I would boycott any in-game purchase type games. I was surprised to more or less finish Fallout Shelter without having to spend any money, however. I’ve also been playing Mario Kart Tour lately, which is also a decent free-to-play game, but the prices in the game are disgusting. Like the insides of a slug when you step into the garden barefoot, coating your sole (and soul) with slime. True, and recent, story.

Just exercise a little patience though, and you can get more value out of a game like Asphalt 9: Legends than one you purchased full price. If you can’t wait until a few more minutes, hours or the next day, maybe you should pay a little extra? For me, I have a lot of games to go through to review and also play – you know, for ‘fun’. It’s not in my interest to invest so much time into this type of game unless I enjoy it. Which I do. Therefore, like a tippity top pint, I’ll make it last thank you. Buy your own round. Feel I’m being anti-social? Fine, why not join ‘the club’.

A Lancer in lightspeed

If Your Name’s Not Down, You’re Not Coming In

Plaster a ‘No Girls Allowed’ on your den, should you see fit and start your own club of misfits. A total of 19 of your sexist chums can muscle in on the gang, all playing their part in earning reputation for the club. How do I do that? Well, you’ve lost respect from most decent people by isolating the girls, so the only way to do it can be earned is from sweeping yards, helping old ladies win arm wrestles and winning races or just driving like a nut. 

At the time of writing (16:23) I’m driving solo. If you’re reading this, have a Switch and want to make friends, join my club. It’s not exclusive – anyone can join. I don’t take it seriously so if you’re crap, join. If you’re an epic gamer and expect me to earn loads of points, find a more professional outfit. The club is entitled ‘School Run’ as the goal is to ignore all road laws and drive like idiots – like most of those who do the school run will know. I don’t condone it in real life – I ‘ate it, but this game isn’t real. Is it…?

Disclaimer: A review code wasn’t provided for Asphalt 9: Legends, nor did I buy it, and I certainly haven’t slept with anyone at the publishers, but this game is ace for what it is. Hell – I’d buy this as a triple-A title in the shops if I saw it.

Yeah, I drive a BMW, but that doesn’t mean I’m a dick or drive like one. I can’t say the same in Asphalt 9: Legends as I tailgate, clip, spin and boost my way past anyone that gets in my way. Speaking of dick, I hate to break it to you, but the Brian I mentioned in the title didn’t exist. My insincere apologies.