Game Title: Drift Legends
Company: Black Fox Entertainment
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download (Releases Oct. 18, 2018)
Battery Life: 3.5 – 4.5 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 902 MB

Despite the Switch being over 2 years old, there is still a significant lack of driving and racing games on the platform. The biggest one of note for me was Gear.Club Unlimited. While that game is getting a sequel in December, a new game has popped up to help scratch that car itch for handheld gamers, and only for 5 bucks.

Starting as a Mobile game, and then a PC game, and now a handheld game, this game promised a lot in its $4.99 price tag: Realistic Physics, 40 cars, tons of events. So, how is it? Let’s find out. Here is my review of Drift Legends for the Nintendo Switch!

Gameplay

drift 2 - modes

Drift Legends is an Arcade-Style driving game that consists of drift challenges. During each event, you’ll be driving your car around racetracks with the goal of building up drift scores within a time or lap limit. It’s essentially like the Drift Events in Gran Turismo, but with the whole game being around those events.

When you go into the game, you’ve got 5 Game Modes/Options you can go into. For driving, you’ve got Practice Mode to test out cars on various tracks, Career Mode to go through car-specific events for high rewards, and Daily Events that have Career-like events that alternate each day.

Then you have customization with Car Selection that’s used to buy and equip different cars and Car Tuning that’s used for buying paint colors and rims, though it’s worth noting that none of these “tuning” options actually change the way the cars drive and perform.

drift 3 - car prices

Now, let’s talk about content differences between Switch and the Mobile/Steam versions. First of all, the Online Multiplayer (Ghost Races) was not put into the Switch version of the game, due to problems the developers had in configuring their servers on Nintendo’s network. This is in all other versions of the game and works with cross-play between PC, Android, and iOS. Black Fox told me they hope to add this in a later patch, but no guarantees.

This version also had its cinematic Photo Mode removed in favor of the Switch’s built-in screenshot button for taking similar shots during replays. On the bright side, they also removed In-App Purchases for money while significantly reducing the prices for each car.

Career Mode is the biggest thing you’ll be doing. In Career Mode, you are set on tracks with Drift Point Goals to meet within either a time limit or a lap limit. If you meet the goal, you get a bunch of cash. The catch is that every event is car type-specific. You could go from a USA-only event to a 4-Wheel-Drive-only event.

drift 4 - drifting

This is the game’s biggest bit of feel, as you go from event to event and drive different cars. The only thing is acquiring said cars. Cars cost a lot of money, and Practice Mode doesn’t offer you much in terms of purchasing new vehicles. So, you go through previous events to get the money to buy new cars to do the new event, and this process repeats.

At the start, this isn’t a big deal. You can easily get through the Beginner League in Career Mode with only doing a couple races between a few events where you run out of new cars to use without buying. However, when you get to the higher modes, it gets longer and longer. Despite the fact that you get more credits and cars cost less in this version, it still gets to be very repetitive and grindy towards the end of the “Normal Mode” campaign, which has you stopping to do 12+ races for each new car for singular events and repeating the process as you keep going.

Now, let’s talk about the driving, itself. When you get into an event, you drive around on race-tracks and drift/skid around corners to build up drift points. As per usual with Drift Challenges, you lose points if you hit the walls, encouraging you to do skilled drifts around corners. The base gameplay is pretty fun if you like drifting around, though do note that it’s like drifting games or rally games in that you’re the only car on the track.

drift 6 - vroom vroom

Drifting is easy, though. A little -too- easy. The more I played the game, the more I found the car handling was off. Cars that should be much tighter and hard to turn were drifting and sliding at the slightest touch of the steering, while other cars that should drift easily didn’t. It’s made fine if you want to drift easily and have fun, but not if you’re looking for a realistic simulation, which the game advertises itself as doing.

However, I haven’t talked about the great thing about the game: The Amount of Content. For a 5-dollar game, having upward of 40 cars available to drive around in sounds like a great deal. If you throw together all of the different practice tracks, daily events, and career events’ separate difficulties/rewards, you can easily get 5-8 hours out of this game, which is great for the price.

Controls

drift 5 - controls

Controls are very difficult and awkward in this game. I’ll say this: THere are no touch controls outside of menus and the control scheme is locked in place. Just as the PC Version (as I’ve heard) can’t remap controls to different keys, you cannot remap the controls to different buttons.

Here’s the control scheme: The Left Analog Stick (and not the D-Pad) is used for navigating menus. Y is used for acceleration and B is used for the normal brake. A is the E-Brake and the L trigger is used for changing camera angles. These face button controls are also reflected on the Arrow Buttons / D-Pad. This is very awkward as it makes it extremely hard to accelerate and tap the normal brakes.

Another thing is the mode the game puts the Joy-Cons into. This is a game without motion controls, yet it goes into a “Upright” Single Joy-Con Mode when you play it, like 1-2-Switch and Arms do. You can navigate fine when you’re in the game, but whenever you exit it, it still acts in single mode, so navigating around the HUD requires analog movements or re-connecting the controllers via settings.

The weirdness is that the game doesn’t support the double joy-con “grip” mode or the Pro Controller, so you have to use it like this.

Presentation

drift 7 - pres

The presentation of this game is the thing I have the least amount of problems with. Visually, it’s not as smooth as the PC or Mobile versions with the occasional jaggie here and there, but it looks decent enough for what it is.

Performance is mostly good as well. Actual driving is very smooth and without frame-drops, though navigating the menus can be laggy at times. On many occasions, the game would have input lag when moving around and freezing for a few seconds when trying to go into different options.

Battery Life

When we talk Battery Life, it’s one of the game’s more positive features. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 23 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 48 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 14 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 29 minutes

Considering each event is only a few minutes long, you can get a ton of this game done on just a single charge.

In conclusion, Drift Legends is a decently-fun arcade drifting game that disguises itself as a simulation game. The actual driving is a lot of fun for drifting fans and you get a lot of cars and events for your 5 bucks. However, the missing Multiplayer mode, grindy nature of acquiring new cars, and control problems make the Switch the weakest version of this game.

Final Score: 5.5/10