Real Drift Racing Switch Review: Making A Driftence

Somethings just drift away, but in Real Drift Racing, it's all contained within a track. There's no escaping it: you need skills to play this game.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll continue to say it for as long as I play videogames: I like racing games and always up for a new racer whenever it crosses my path – in this case, my Real Drift Racing Switch review. It’s in the title really, but this is a racing game from Cool Small Games that focuses on drifting. The end.

Real Drift Racing is very clearly a mobile title that just so happens to be on the Nintendo Switch as there isn’t really much to it and very light. Or should I say lite? With only a dozen or so tracks and a handful of cars, in theory, you shouldn’t be playing Real Drift Racing for long, but in reality, it’s quite tricky and dare I say, it’s a bit of a grind fest. Unless you’re naturally good at it, that is.

Drift style racing isn’t really my thing. I remember first playing Ridge Racer all those years ago and thinking the mechanic was an arse and unrealistic. I suppose my opinion changed a little in Need for Speed Payback as I had a lot of fun with that, but generally speaking, I’m not a fan. Perhaps that’s why I went and bought Real Drift Racing from the eShop? That was clever.

Drifting in an underground car park
Forget DK (Drift King), this is where it’s at

A Real Drift Racing Switch Review

To be fair, it’s actually not that bad. The car models, while not official in any way, are pretty cool, if not limited. From the outset, you can choose one of three cars with the option to purchase others as you unlock new tracks and wins.

The first two cars were rear-wheel drive which would immediately offer the advantage for drifting, but there was an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Unsurprisingly, it handles like a bus on ice but it’s a safe option. However, safe is not the requirement of the game as you need to continually take risks and put together combo’s; connecting drifts with one another for the maximum multiplier.

The controls are straightforward as all you need to do is accelerate into a corner, slap on the handbrake and adjust your cornering accordingly. The longer you stay in the drift, the more points you accumulate but should you clip a barrier or do a 180, you’ll lose the points.

Timing is critical then, but regardless of the car you start with, they’re all a bit sluggish at first, so the difficulty tends to be on the harder side at first; what with learning the style of play and getting accustomed with the physics of the car you’re using. There is also the option to play the game by tilting the controls, but does anyone actually do that?

Other than getting better at the game, the guaranteed way for improvement is upgrading your car. There are two main sections to choose from: handling and performance. For the latter, it’s more a case of speed, i.e. upgrading your exhaust, engine, shifting – that sort of thing.

You’d think it’s not so important as you don’t race against other cars; instead, you go solo and do a few laps and accumulate a high score to progress. However, once you get to grips with it (forgive the pun), performance improvements make the difference as you accelerate faster and can hold a corner for longer.

A first person view, in-car
One of many viewing perspectives. I see food!

Sustaining The Drift With Upgrades

In that case, the first thing to do would be to improve on the handling. From here, you can adjust the front and rear cambers for the understeer/oversteer depending on your preference and you can alter other parameters such as weight distribution.

Initially, I didn’t see any difference in the first couple of upgrades I made so instead, spunked my money on a new car which was an utter waste. It handled entirely differently from the first three vehicles, and I ended up spinning out regularly or running out of time on each track (there’s a time limit, otherwise you’d be able to cheat and get a massive hi-score).

So, I went back to the very first car and gradually upgraded that so I was progressing through each track, albeit, not setting the best of scores. You see, I never fully got the hang of the controls, and even if I did set up a long drift, I’d only go and fudge it by clipping a barrier by a millimetre.

Least, that’s what I tell myself. It was often head-on collisions. I did find that the camera view furthest away was the best. I prefer in-car perspectives, but when it comes to drifting, the further away you are, the more likely you’ll see a racing/drifting line.

Presentation-wise, the graphics are pretty nice. I’ve already mentioned that the car models are good, there just isn’t much to choose from. At least each car handles differently and you can differentiate them from one another – both in appearance and also how to control them.

The tracks are somewhat limited too and quite short; hence the laps. If you ran one loop, it would be over in a minute or so. Speaking of loop, the music was the worst part of the game. I seldom turn off the music in a game, but I had to in Real Drift Racing: it’s one track on continued repeat and reminds me of a moderately suped-up country and western song from a promotional video for boat shoes. I’m not a fan. 

Real Drift Racing Switch Review - Split-screen
Race with a mate – vertically or horizontally

Split-Screen Local Play? Yes, Please!

Other than the decent amount of upgrades you can unlock through progression, there are a handful of customisations you can make to your car. You can change the colour of the body, rims, windows and tyres.

With the tyres, this is actually the smoke cloud from when you drift. Oh, how I dreamed of pink rubber tyres, but this will do for now. There are only a handful of options to choose from, but it’s always a bonus to customise your vehicle. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with a snot-coloured car or muddy-brown one with lime green rims.

As for the multiplayer side of things, you can do a local two-player with either a vertical or horizontal split-screen. It’s absolutely ace if you’re on the go, or the wife is using the big screen to watch Magic Mike for the 100th time. Of course, if you don’t have any mates, you can still play the versus mode but with a ghost car instead. Sad.

Just one quick niggle with the main menu; a tutorial is at the very top of the menu so if you’re mildly impatient and press the A button too quickly, you’ll boot up the tutorial. Which is kind of annoying.

The bottom line is whether it’s worth it or not. I had this on my wishlist as I wanted to give it a go some time ago and it was a cheap title, even without the sale price I ended up paying. It’s a niche driving game as it’s all about the drift rather than beating anyone else’s time.

There’s also more skill involved than most driving games as it’s pretty hard to wing it and pull off a series of drifts to get the most points. In a typical racer, you can sacrifice skill by bouncing off another player. Sure it sucks to be on the receiving end, but you have more of a chance of winning that way. Well, sometimes. Real Drift Racing, however, is a skill-based driving game.

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