There aren't as many kart racers as there used to be but Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure is here and it's a welcome throwback.
Although I played and enjoyed the original Beach Buggy Racing on Xbox One, I didn't review it for some reason and now that I played this sequel, I'm happy to say that it has improved on the original to create one must-have kart racer. Oh, and I'm actually reviewing it this time which is cool. Anyway, if you've ever played a kart racer then you'll feel right at home as soon as you start racing as all you do is accelerate, steer, brake, and deploy power-ups. Speaking of which, each character has a unique driver ability that you can use a couple of times during each race and you can also hold 2 power-ups at any given time then deploy them by tapping their corresponding buttons. This adds a welcome layer of strategy to the gameplay that you often don't get with similar racing games which is excellent.
Now that I'm talking about power-ups, I'm impressed by how many there are. In addition to the character-specific driver abilities, you can unleash over 40 power-ups that do things like trap your opponents in hamster balls, levitate them by taking away gravity, replace their tires with donuts, unleash a swarm of angry bees, deploy a fake power-up, and even make chickens occupy their windshields thus making them unable to clearly see ahead. This wealth of power-up variety combines perfectly with the tight racing gameplay to make a truly fun-filled formula that can actually be quite challenging, too, so mastering the campaign will require a solid amount of effort.
Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure has a cast of 14 characters which includes people in various costumes as well as an alien, skeleton, and a boom box robot. There are also 40 vehicles to unlock and drive that range from little cars to monster trucks and dune buggies to a lunar rover. The most substantial inclusion is 23 tracks that are quite distinct as you can race around an erupting volcano, on glaciers, through a desert, underwater, and on an alien planet, too! There's even a track with dinosaurs which is awesome. Thankfully, each track is well-crafted with many twists, turns, hazards, and tricky segments so they'll rarely become tiresome.
One of the best features in Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure is that multiplayer is handled brilliantly. Not only can you race with up to 4 local players, you can also cooperate in the main adventure campaign which not many kart racers let you do. The campaign also features a node-based map that allows you to complete events in a somewhat non-linear fashion as well as unlock nodes that allow you to acquire more power-up types, characters, and vehicle enhancements. Outside of the campaign, you can compete in multi-event championships to win cups, challenge timed tournaments to rank in online leaderboards, and play single events including races, time trials, survival last car standing matches, and a couple of nifty variations: one where you power-slide and drift within specified zones and another where you avoid fireworks in time trials. In other words, there's a lot to do in Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure.
With all of that being said, I wish there were even more modes such as battle arenas and mini-games that used the wide assortment of power-ups in clever ways. Even though there is a lot of content, each race type is basically quite standard at its core. Also, although you unlock stat boost tune-ups in adventure mode, there really isn't much customization you can do which is a bit disappointing. Finally, the cast of characters are fun but they certainly don't have much personality. I would have loved to hear voiced lines and see each chum's unique qualities more. On the plus side, the soundtrack is great complete with plenty of rockin' beach-inspired jams.
Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure is one of the best indie kart racers that I've ever played. If you enjoy lighthearted racing games, too, then you'll get a kick out of what it offers, especially if you plan on playing with friends.
- + Tight kart racing gameplay with loads of cool power-ups, characters, and tracks
- + Excellent multiplayer implementation
- + Charming presentation and great music
- - Could use more modes such as a battle arena and silly mini-games
- - Characters generally lack personality
- - Doesn't have much customization