You could say that I’ve been a little less ‘unexpecting’ of racing games for the Switch of late, but FAR S Ultra is another considerable title to pad out your Switch collection. It’s a futuristic racer, available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch today. And no, I didn’t get this from a bloke in an alley.
Published by Zerouno Games (Baobabs Mausoleum) and developed by Nurendsoft, this is a futuristic racer without too much emphasis on gravity. That’s two-fold. First off, the vehicles hover oh-so-slightly over the tracks, but also, because the game doesn’t push it on you how unique it is, or that it’s the fastest game in town.
Because it is unassuming and my expectations have been lowered with racing games on the Switch, FAR S Ultra has been a slight surprise. F-Zero has been influential here, and to start this post with some controversy, it’s better than that. Do note, that’s not fact per se, but I wasn’t the biggest fan when it came out on the SNES, nor do I play it anymore on the SNES Online.
FAR S Ultra is a futuristic racer (already said that) without being gimmicky or too far out there that you can’t identify with the concepts: it’s a fast-pacer racer without all the fluff. Well, some of the menu screens are strange. The vehicles look like F1 cars without the wheels, so it all feels familiar and easy to pick up, and if you know left from right, you should be able to play it.
Removing those gimmicks makes you focus more on the gameplay, and for the most part, it’s good. FAR S Ultra feels pretty slick in movement and handles well, aside from the cornering at times. Presentation-wise, they are understated and fashioned like cell-shading without going overboard. Again, another sign that this game isn’t shouting to get your attention and earns it.
But there’s a big Sir Mix-a-Lot BUTT: damage. Your vehicle will only take so many hits until it blows up. This isn’t a new mechanic, but with most racers of its ilk, you usually lose a bit of speed or a game over. On the plus side, you won’t get a direct game over in typical races, but it might as well be as when you explode, you respawn, and it costs time. Unfortunately, this happens a hell of a lot and will test your patience unless you improve on your reaction time.
Being unable to complete a lap without crashing is fatal. While it isn’t as extreme as TT Isle Of Man Ride On The Edge 2 following up on the leaders after a crash is an ordeal. To stick with FAR S Ultra, you need to get savvy with the brake and understand that you can’t ricochet off a bend and instead take the damage until you blow up.
One way to take the corners is through the shoulder buttons that give a hard steer, similar to a handbrake but without momentum loss. However, timing is critical, and it takes quite a few runs until you can competently glide around a corner without clipping the sides. The ‘release the gas’ method doesn’t apply in FAR S Ultra, and you’re going to have to swallow your pride and apply the brake in this game if you’re serious about winning.
Similar to games in the genre like Wipeout, you fly over boosts and have a dedicated boost button to get ahead. Naturally, this makes your vehicle go fast, but it’s not Spaceballs ludicrous speed, and as long as you concentrate, you won’t be crashing as much as expected. If you reserve to the straights and stay away from the bends. On the contrary, I crashed at slower speeds, desperate to keep up, which was a nightmare.
There are five difficulties in FAR S Ultra to match the number of cups, and I’d say that the AI is a mixed bag. AI-controlled characters are a little aggressive and frequently crash into the back of you, which can be infuriating if you have a clean run. It doesn’t spin you out but cuts your power slightly. They also tend to boost at the same time as you, so there were rare moments where you could get a massive lead on anyone. It seems like a flaw, but this provides some challenge. It just would have been nice to be able to catch up with the leaders when trailing behind.
As you get to grips with the handling aspects and the dreadful music (I switched it off), FAR S Ultra has a lot to unlock through XP. The more stages you complete, win championships and tackle the ridiculously hard higher levels, you’ll get new stuff and bragging rights. You’ll be able to boast to your friends in person too, as you can do a four-player split-screen with it as well and race in custom modes.
FAR S Ultra is a good indie game, but the handling will make or break it for you. I stuck with it as a driving fan, and my experience improved, but it’s not my go-to racer due to totalling the vehicle so much. Sure, F-Zero fans will say it doesn’t compare, but as I said, that wasn’t for me back in the day, and still haven’t played the later versions. Otherwise, an OK, albeit troublesome, indie racer.