Let’s Hit the Road!: Drive Girls Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - October 27, 2017
Let’s Hit the Road!: Drive Girls Review

The Vita has become a strange beast as it has entered the twilight years of its retail life. As more developers abandon the portable, it seems that the stuff that’s staying around keeps getting weirder. Today’s game is a perfect example of this as we look at Drive Girls, a game who’s premise is as odd as they come, a game where you play as one of a team of women who can turn into cars. Yes, Drive Girls is as Japanese as sushi, but can such a strange premise be turned into a worthwhile experience?

The story of Drive Girls revolves around Lanciera Revolution, a young woman who, despite her poor grades, wants to join an Emergency Response Team. On her way to test for one of the teams, she ends up meeting with and ultimately joining the Drive Girls. The team is tasked with protecting Sun Island, an island which was recently evacuated after being overrun by a strange mechanical organism known as Bugs. While Lanciera is initially doubtful about her position with the team, she befriends the other members of the Drive Girls and ultimately joins the team due to her caring nature and desire to help others.

Drive Girls follows a by the numbers plot, and there’s honestly nothing wrong with that. Being a hack and slash title, it’s not surprising that the game would possess the bare minimum when it comes to plot. With such a bare-bones plot, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the characters are just as basic as the plot itself. Each of Drive Girls’ characters falls into the anime cookie cutter, so expect all of your basic archetypal tropes. The main character, Lanciera is the standard dim-witted, but good-natured lead. The first member of the Drive Girls we meet, Rigalith, is the shy, blonde, and well-endowed sidekick character. The stereotypes continue from here with each of the remaining cast members falling into another one of the tropes that any anime fan would instantly recognize.

Originality isn’t Drive Girls strong suit, but these types of games aren’t really known for their telling a gripping story or offering compelling characters. The meat of the hack and slash genre comes from its gameplay, not it’s ability to tell a story, meaning that Drive Girls can still be a redeemable product, even with its poor story and bland characters.

However, if you were hoping to see that the game would offer some level of interesting gameplay, then I’m sorry, but you’re about to be disappointed. A hack and slash title set in a world where humans can change into cars while still maintaining their consciousness seems like it should be an easy enough premise not to botch, but sadly the game continues to drop the ball even in the gameplay. Much like other games in the genre, Drive Girls has the problem of not differentiating itself enough from being a simple button masher to do anything unique. Simple combos are the order of the day, and many of the game’s stages can be cleared without much thought. Adding the ability to change into a car doesn’t offer much either, as it doesn’t do enough to change out the standard formula of mashing the square button. The game does occasionally try to mix things up by throwing in a driving stage, but these stages don’t do anything to help matters due to poor controls. The driving feels like an afterthought and the cars don’t control like they feel they should, causing these stages, in particular, to feel sluggish and further drag down the experience.

It boggles the mind that the driving, in particular, could be so bad. When one of the main hooks of your title is that your characters can turn into cars and you don’t get the driving mechanics down, there’s a problem. I had more than one instance while in a race, where I would have to deal with enemies in the road, but one wrong button press and your character will revert back into their human form and you can forget catching back up with the pack. All these factors come together to create an experience that feels like an exercise in frustration, which is a shame.

This all comes together in stages that just feel uninspired. Many of the game’s early sections take place on highway style stages with little in the way of background. You’re simply on a big multi-lane highway, that doesn’t appear to be close to anything noteworthy. This doesn’t get better as the game continues either. In fact, the only thing that appears to have received any effort are the character models. The idea that each of the girls is based on a real-life car is an interesting one, for example, Lancier is based on Mitsubishi’s Lancer series, but this effort ultimately feels hollow due to the lack of effort put into the game’s driving segments.

The audio package doesn’t do much to help matter either, the music comes off a forgettable and ultimately generic when compared to Drive Girls‘ contemporaries. The game’s voiceover is only offered in Japanese, and be all accounts seems ably performed, but at the end of the day that feels like the only real positive of this whole package.

Drive Girls wasn’t on my radar when I first heard about the game, and I have to admit that the premise alone was something that grabbed my attention, so it’s sad to see just how poor this idea faired in execution. Given the style of game, I was willing to forgive the bland story and characters, I could have even forgiven the generic music, but one thing I cannot forgive Drive Girls for is its gameplay. I sit here and scratch my head in amazement that a title with the promise of “anime girls who turn into cars”  could have such abhorrent driving mechanics. As if the core gameplay of a hack and slash title wasn’t uninspired enough, it feels like the driving aspects of the game were tacked on to a game that has nothing to do with driving for a bulk of its development. The Vita deserves better than games like Drive Girls and I hope this outing isn’t a harbinger of things to come for the Vita, the console may be on its last leg, but it certainly deserves better than this uninspired dreck.

This post was written by
He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.
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