One of the most underrated genres in gaming is the kart racer. When Mario started his racing career back in 1992, I bet he didn't think a gang of bears would take up the same hobby almost 25 years later. So, can bears drift? Let's find out.
Right off the top, I must say that Bears Can't Drift is one of the cutest games that I've played in a long time. Watching the furry fellows race around the tracks is quite a delight, especially when they're airborne and you get to see their little legs and tail flail around behind them. I recently played with my three year old nephew who's obviously way too young to be able to learn how to play a game like this and he spent the whole time admiring the adorable bears as he constantly reversed into the camera. "Look at the bear bums!" he said whenever a bear jumped off a ramp or fell off a cliff. But, he wasn't the only one in the room adoring the animated bears on the screen. On top of the cute and clean visuals, the soundtrack is super charming and catchy although there are only a few songs that play. Overall, no matter your age, you're bound to fall in love with this collection of kart-racing bears.
The racing itself is incredibly simple. All you do is accelerate, brake, drift, and use power-ups. These power-ups include rockets, shields, mines in the shape of beehives, and speed boosts. You can stack them to craft new power-ups, too. For example, if you pick up two speed boosts then you can unleash a massive bomb blast. It's cool that you have the option to strategize like this. In the end, everything controls quite nicely although the karts don't seem to connect with the track as well as in other similar racers.
Bears Can't Drift consists of twelve tracks that are contained within three themed areas (Forest, Arctic, and Ruin). Some of these tracks are rather long and most of them offer a unique style. Additionally, you can decide whether to race computer-controlled bears, test your skills in a time trial, or forage for food whenever you enter a track. If you have friends over then you can play split-screen multiplayer with up to four players in any of these race modes. Considering there are three difficulty settings, too, Bears Can't Drift contains a significant amount of content to work through. Oh, and you can unlock cool hats that your bear can wear!
Even though Bears Can't Drift sounds like a pretty good game so far, it unfortunately suffers from some major issues. The first of which is that it doesn't explain anything and there are no menus or any form of guidance. You even select the difficulty by driving through certain paths. Because of this, it'll not only take you a long time to understand how to play, you'll find yourself confused as to how to progress or setup races. After an hour (or even longer) of aimlessly wandering around, it eventually clicks but you'll be lost until that happens.
The biggest problem by far is the fact that tracks can be extremely unintuitive and downright bewildering. It's incredibly easy to accidentally face the wrong direction without realising it (because there's no onscreen warning like in other racers), then once you see racers coming towards you; it's time to restart. Turns in the tracks and environmental objects are frequently ambiguous, too, which only adds to the confusion. Believe it or not, there are plenty of game-ending glitches as well. Even if you manage to navigate through a track, you could end up stuck in the side of a cliff or between some pipes with no way to escape besides restarting the race. This happened countless times throughout the few hours that I've played already and that's just unacceptable.
Bears Can't Drift is a cute game that would have been very enjoyable if it had more straightforward tracks and far less bugs. As it is, there's some fun to be had but far too much frustration is involved. These bears should have hibernated for a little while longer.
- + Adorable and clean presentation that's appealing for gamers of all ages
- + Simple and enjoyable kart gameplay
- + Decent amount of tracks and content
- - Lack of instructions and menus makes figuring out how to play a chore
- - Way too easy to get disoriented
- - Many bugs and game-ending glitches