Beach Buggy Racing 2 Review - Obscured Vision
Updated: Jul 7
Beach Buggy Racing 2
Beach Buggy Racing 2 is a kart-racing sequel to a mobile game that was later ported to a bunch of other systems, but not Steam. I haven't played the original and can't say what's changed here, but I can say that it's missing most of the crap you'd normally expect from a mobile-first game. There are no microtransactions, no gacha-style unlocks, and no prompts to "tap" the screen with your mouse. The lackluster graphics are just about the only thing that might make you think it was made for phones.
So, it's not a lazy phone port, but how is it as a game? Starting with the tracks, it's mostly well done. All of the tracks have a bunch of hidden secrets and shortcuts, but there are only about 10 of them and because the adventure mode introduces them by chapter, you'll be playing the early ones a whole lot more than you would in most kart racers. None of the tracks are bad in isolation, but the game certainly could have used another two or three to round out the roster. It tries to alleviate the repetition by occasionally doing mirror mode versions, but that doesn't help much.
Characters have a similar problem. There are about a dozen of them, which is reasonable, but you see a whole lot of the early ones since each chapter only adds one new character. There's not much variety between them in any case, since they don't have unique stats or vehicles. They do get their own super power ups, but these introduce their own problems (more on that soon) and still don't change that much since they can only be used a couple of times per race.
Vehicles and events fare better on the variety front, at least. There are loads of vehicles, though they actually only represent a handful of different stat distributions. Some are very tedious to unlock, but others can be picked up without much effort, and stat boosts picked up throughout the campaign provide a little more room for customization. That said, I was never able to tell if two of the four stats were even doing anything, so that puts a damper on the whole thing. Each vehicle (and character) comes with some quests that will unlock a new skin if you complete them all, but doing so is generally quite an undertaking and the resulting gold skin is nothing special.
As for the events, campaign mode jumps around between a few different settings of standard races, time trials, elimination races, multi-race cups, and some incredibly obnoxious special events. Most of these are self-explanatory if you've ever played a kart racer before and are all fun enough. The special events can be quite painful, though. The worst of the lot gives everyone a permanent debuff that causes a massive explosion if they run into anything at all, which makes the game nearly unplayable when the track is crowded because the AI is constantly crashing and blowing everyone up. Others just give everyone loads of annoying homing powerups or fill the track with bombs. The latter might not sound so bad, but you may feel differently when it's on an ice track and you're being timed. These are at least confined to their specific events, though. You can't escape the awful powerups.
Here you're looking at the "tunnel vision" powerup, which confines your vision to a narrow circle in the center of the screen. It's going to be a massive motion sickness trigger for anyone who suffers from that, and it was occasionally nauseating for me even though I never suffer from it. Like most of the powerups in the game, it automatically hits everyone in front of the user and is completely unblockable unless you happen to already be using a shield powerup. You can also instantly heal it with a first aid kit if you have one, but those are rare and single use. Tunnel vision is by far the most uncomfortable of the attacks, but it's far from the only offender. There are several different ones that guarantee you'll be blown up if any AI uses them and several more that disable or otherwise make the controls temporarily unusable. I assume this bevy of obnoxious auto-targeting attacks is down to it being hard to aim on mobile, but it can be incredibly unfun when you get hit by unavoidable attacks a half dozen times in one lap. Oh, and did I mention that the screen blocking attacks can stack?
Here's the tiki mask attack occurring at the same time as tunnel vision, which happens fairly frequently and means you can only see through the middle tiki masks spinning eye holes. If you don't know the track already, this is completely unplayable. Even if you do know the track, it's unpleasant to look at, and the AI loves to spam these obscuring abilities. I genuinely don't know how anyone looked at a screenshot like that and thought it was fine.
Beach Buggy Racing 2 is mechanically solid and has some well-designed tracks, but it needs more track and character variety instead of dozens of boring skin variations. Some of the powerups are truly dreadful and should never have been in the game. I enjoyed it, but it's constantly getting in its own way with stuff that's presumably in the game because it looks funny in a promotional GIF rather than because it's any fun to play. I can just barely recommend it on sale if you're looking for a casual kart racer to play while listening to something.
Time to beat: 10 hours for the adventure mode.
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