Drive Girls, in concept, should be an absolute winner. Cute girls that can transform into cars fighting off hordes of robotic insects, while a silly premise, should allow for a lighthearted romp with a likeable cast. Instead, what we got is a game that arguably commits one of the greatest sins that any piece of media can commit: to be utterly boring.
Publisher: Aksys Games, Rising Star Games
Developer: Tamsoft, Bergsala Lightweight
Platform: PS Vita (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 8th, 2017
The games presentation is one of the more unremarkable elements of the experience. The character designs are fairly bland and feel largely uninspired. They’re very surface level cute but don’t have any interesting details about them that would make them stand out from other cute girl characters.
The in-game models are decent but won’t impress, although it probably enables the game to maintain its fairly impressive performance given the genre of the game and the platform it’s on. The biggest offender in its presentation is undoubtedly the level design.
Every level is just a racetrack with a themed backdrop to represent the environment. With the occasional environmental flair to try and spruce each level, the environments are incredibly boring and make playing through the game boring at times.
Luckily, the gameplay is interesting enough to keep your attention despite the lackluster presentation. You have a choice of five playable (who are unlocked as you play) Drive Girls, each of them having a different play style. Whether it’s a speedy rushing character, a zoner, or a slower heavy hitter, you’ll end up gravitating towards to whichever play style you prefer.
Combat is pretty simplistic, with most of your combos being composed of light and heavy attacks, but what makes it enjoyable is how fluid it feels. Thanks to the aforementioned performance, combos feel smooth and surprisingly fast at times depending on the character you’re playing.
Success in combat will lead to you building up your meter, which can be used to power up your regular attacks. Once it’s maxed out you’ll be able to attack with double damage while also being able to perform an Ex Injection, which is simply a super move that hits enemies in an certain AoE depending on the character.
There’s also a stripping feature, where providing you take enough damage your armor falls off. I’m not entirely sure why that’s there but it is. In short bursts this game can be quite fun, but sadly as you play for more extended periods of time you’ll begin to see the games faults.
The game only has two mission variants, combat and racing. The racing portions are some of the most boring and tedious missions in the game and with a game called Drive Girls, you’d think more effort would be put into it.
Not only is the racing not fun, but the car transformation mechanic is not well developed. You can transform to your car form at any point during the combat missions, but have so little practical use that there’s no point. In theory you should be able to switch up characters frequently in the hopes of giving the game some variety, but due to the core mechanics, it’s not practical.
Character upgrades have to be purchased via gears and each time you buy a new one for a specific character, they become increasingly expensive. So your choices are to stick to one character and have them scale appropriately, or level everyone equally and have them under-leveled for the late game.
There is a multiplayer component to the game but good luck finding people to play with online. Your best bet is to convince a friend to buy the game and play via Ad-Hoc.
The games soundtrack and voice cast is wholly unremarkable. It isn’t bad by any means, but it leaves such little impact that I’m struggling to remember any of the character’s voices or any of the songs.
The one thing I do remember, unfortunately, is the sound of the car’s engine that drones on throughout the entirety of the racing missions. It just drones on and on and you all you have to do to escape from it is to turn down the volume.
It’s hard to be too critical about a story with the premise of cute girls fighting robot bugs while transforming into cars. Despite this, the story is so boring with characters to match that it finds a way to make it easier to criticize.
The framing device is that our lead character Lancier wants to become an EMT but gets wrangled in to become a Drive Girl and fight robot bugs. It’s hardly a deep or engaging story, but the premise is simple enough that you’d imagine the team having fun with the premise and developing the characters more.
Impressively it fails by doing neither, as not only is the story by the books, but the characters are cookie cutter cut outs defined by their character archetype.
They have so little going on as characters I’d be hard pressed to tell you anything about them or their personalities.
There aren’t any interesting interactions within the cast, so all you have is cute girls with nothing interesting about them occasionally fighting robot bugs and racing one another.
I wanted to like this game more than I did, but there’s very little that the game offers and what it does manage to offer is very shallow. It might be more fun with other players, but with a largely vacant online community I couldn’t tell.
If it feels like Drive Girls still interests you despite what I had to say, I’d recommend maybe picking it up if it were on sale as it can make for a decent time killer if you’re on the transit to work or school. Outside of that, there’s not a whole lot to recommend, as it offers too little to make for an engaging title.
Drive Girls was reviewed on PS Vita using a review copy received from Aksys Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 5
- Combat is surprisingly decent
- Performance is consistent and smooth
- Story and characters are boring
- Very little in terms of mission variety
- Underdeveloped car transformation mechanic makes for wasted potential