I remember the first time I played a kart racer, huddled around a small CRT TV, three friends and I would sink countless hours into Mario Kart – a newly founded concept of the racing game genre. Throughout the years I developed a strong fondness for kart racing games, from playing the likes of Crash Team Racing, Modnation Racers and the Mario Kart series. I adore retro karting action, however, it seemed like this was something that the PS4 lacked.
Bears Can’t Drift!? is scratching the kart racer itch that I’ve had for over half a decade.
I began to do a little digging, in the hope of finding a kart racer that would invoke the same feeling I had when playing those that share a special place in my heart. I stumbled across an article, on the Unreal Engine forums, written by Arran Langmead. After watching the attached videos within the thread and reading through the features of the game, I quickly became enamoured with Bears Can’t Drift!? – A kart racer being developed by Strangely Named Studio.
The project started as a small Unity made game for the OUYA, developed by a team of two. With a few unfortunate twists and turns, Arran single-handedly steered the ship in a different direction and chose to target Steam and PS4, instead of the OUYA platform. Starting from scratch he made the switch from Unity to Unreal and began utilising Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint system.
I think I’ve found my favourite racer already.
Although the game was made primarily by Arran, seven months into development two new members joined the team. Adam Barton became a business partner and co-developer on Bears Can’t Drift!? with Rachel Simpson working alongside both, as a freelance composer and sound designer.
You can clearly tell that Arran has matured with the same undying love for kart racers that so many of us hold dearly. Taking inspiration from unforgettable classics of the early Nintendo and PlayStation era. Bears Can’t Drift!? features an open hub world to explore while also replacing the traditional menu system.
A beautifully sculpted array of colours makes up this stunning oriental themed enviroment.
Players are able to drive through whatever hub they desire to gain admittance to three uniquely themed worlds, each hosting up to twelve playable tracks. Players can dual among other racers by using and combining power-ups to cause frantic mayhem throughout the course. In order to gain access to more challenging difficulty levels, you will need to prove you’re worthy enough by completing a specific task – such as making a challenging jump after drifting around a dangerously narrow pathway rather than just selecting it from a menu.
A mountainous, woodland area allows for the grizzlies to drift free in their natural habitat.
The artistic flair and prodigious sound design, that first attracted me to the game, were distinctly reminiscent of my childhood, each aspect of the game creating a sense of nostalgia. Worlds seem full of character in terms of visual design and sound, possibly one of the most admiring features is the inclusion of four-player, offline split screen.
It’s very rare these days that games cater for the offline players, as more tend to focus on the online portion of the game. Rekindling with old friends in this couch, co-op, kart racer will definitely be on the agenda later this summer. Bears Can’t Drift!? is certainly worth keeping an eye on.