‘Magical Girl! Riding a Motorbike! Flying in the Sky!’ This is the tagline that Nintendo Switch launch title Vroom in the night sky uses to advertise itself. It is woefully bad at enticing people to play it yet at the same time is depressingly accurate about what it is actually about. I can also say that, having spent a couple of hours seeing what it has to offer, it is probably the most exciting thing about this travesty of a game. And it’s not even that exciting.
The first warning sign comes when the game is booted up for the first time. Players are greeted by a weird cutesy anime creature that asks them the question “Are you the first time to play this?” This isn’t the only instance of poor English and grammar either – every piece of text in the game, from the dialogue to the descriptions, is ridiculously mistranslated. Of course, this being the work of a small Japanese indie studio who probably didn’t have the biggest budget, some translation errors here and there could be forgiven. Sadly, it only goes downhill from there.
The main thrust of Vroom in the night sky is exactly as advertised – you play as a ‘Magical Girl’, who must gather a bunch of star collectibles by flying around on her ‘Magical Motorbike’ while making sure she doesn’t run of out ‘Magical gasoline’. As you’ve probably gathered by now, the game insists on describing almost everything as ‘Magical’ (capitalised, of course), yet the reality is anything but. Every level is sparse, with a few easily avoided obstacles dotted around the place, and the only penalty for hitting them is being stopped and a small decrease in points. Worse, the bigger stars you need to actually finish the stages are often just floating out in the open and the smaller extra ones aren’t that hard to get. Even the fuel gauge is barely a problem, as it takes so long to empty that you might as well have an unlimited supply.
The only semblance of a threat the game can muster comes in the form of a ‘rival’ who appears in almost every level. She is apparently there to steal all the collectibles before you can, which is clearly meant to invoke a sense of urgency in the player. Unfortunately, this quickly falls flat when you realise that not only do the collectibles respawn after a while, but the rival is hilariously bad at collecting them, often going painfully slow and crashing into most of the obstacles in her way. In fact, if it wasn’t for the constant stream of inane dialogue popping up the bottom left of the screen, I’d probably forget she was even there.
The result is a game that utterly fails to provide anything resembling entertainment. The complete lack of challenge, coupled with the repetitive, barebones gameplay, just makes everything feel boring and pointless and the overall experience is as empty as the levels you are forced to play through. Even the extra mechanics just make the game worse. The ‘Magical Turning’ drift makes the bike a pain to control, so it is better not to use it at all. The beam weapon you can shoot makes it even easier to grab collectibles, which is ridiculous considering how devoid of difficulty it was to begin with. I would go on, except the game hasn’t actually got anything else up its sleeve.
To add insult to injury, Vroom in the night sky doesn’t even offer anything near a substantial amount of content. There are only 8 levels, which as I’ve stated above are all practically empty and can all be finished in a pathetically short space of time. In fact, the whole game can be completed in about an hour or two, if that. The only incentive to keep playing is to gather enough currency to buy all the vehicles available in the store. However, it takes so long to gather enough to afford them all that the question soon becomes why you should even bother.
As if that wasn’t enough, Vroom in the night sky looks as bland as can be, which is actually impressive considering how colourful it is. Again, I understand that this is a smaller indie title, but that doesn’t excuse the poor visuals on display here. Character models are PS2 standard with very little lighting and barely any animation. The environments are even worse – everything is made of basic, polygonal blocks that look like they belong on the N64. The only real saving grace for this rubbish is that it isn’t also completely broken. By some strange miracle everything functions as it should, for what little that is worth. It’s almost a pity, really – being a broken mess would have been the cherry on top of this game’s litany of flaws.
To put it simply, Vroom in the night sky is bad. In fact, I would go as far to say that it is utterly dreadful. It is definitely the rotten egg of the Switch’s launch lineup and the only thing stopping it from being considered one of the worst games ever made is that it just isn’t notable enough to earn that dubious prestige. This truly is a waste of both time and money and you should avoid it at all costs.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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