There definitely aren't enough water-based racing games out there so throw in some anime girls and you have a promising formula.
After watching the trailer for Kandagawa Jet Girls, I was very interested in playing it. I love quirky cheeky Japanese games that star over-the-top characters and I find watercraft racers to be one of the most underrated genres in all of gaming. So, I assumed that the marriage of the 2 would result in a fun-filled game but unfortunately, I was wrong. Yes, Kandagawa Jet Girls offers some redeeming qualities but its gameplay is where it falls flat on its face. I'll talk more about that in a bit but for now, let me describe the premise. It's based on the recent anime of the same name that takes place in a futuristic Tokyo and you play as a team of 2 girls: one who drives and one who shoots. Believe it or not, there's an overarching story with plenty of dialogue scenes but nothing substantial really happens aside from petty rivalries and typical banter. Do you have what it takes to command the best team in the league? Do you even want to?
On a positive note, Kandagawa Jet Girls is set in an undeniably cheerful and bubbly game world that's filled with colourful settings, happy-go-lucky characters, and goofy humour. This is where the experience shines brightest; in its presentation and setting. To accompany the lovely game world, you're treated to a fantastic soundtrack that features plenty of chill tunes that range from groovy to funky. The Japanese voice cast also offers a layer of fun to the equation as each character is expressive and their tone makes situations more humorous and lighthearted. As someone who doesn't speak Japanese, it's cool that it's easy to understand such subtleties.
Well, it's time to discuss Kandagawa Jet Girls' gameplay. For starters, let me just say that this is the slowest racing game that I've played in a very long time. There is absolutely no sense of speed and even when you hit a boost pad and see the visual effects kick in, it's hardly a rush. On top of the slow speed, the gameplay itself is super-simple. You'd think that swapping between racing and shooting would make for an exciting dynamic but it doesn't. All you do is steer, perform tricks, drift for a small boost, unleash a special move once your energy is filled, and aim and shoot whenever you feel doing so would be advantageous. It's basic stuff and none of it is exciting.
Considering the fact that there are a handful of gameplay mechanics, you'd think that you'll have to master all of them in order to succeed but that is not the case. You can literally just accelerate and steer then claim victory in most of the single player races so the supplementary mechanics just feel tacked on and unnecessary. This makes races turn from potentially interesting to downright boring and tedious. I kept waiting for a challenge to emerge and nothing really made me compelled to put any substantial effort in.
In addition to racing, there are a few mini-games where you can wash your watercraft, swab the deck of a ship, and exercise on a treadmill because, you know, these things are critical to the overall experience, apparently. Each of the mini-games is super-simple and easy to master with exercise being the trickiest because you can't go too far ahead or lag behind. Fun stuff, right?
Don't get me wrong; I'm happy that Kandagawa Jet Girls at least features lots of content. Although the mini-games aren't the best, it's good that they're included. You can also unlock gallery-style goodies as well as purchase cosmetic items for characters and upgrade your watercraft and doing so adds a layer of personality and reward to making progress. However, one huge missed opportunity is that there is no local multiplayer at all. Why can't one player control the racer while the other controls the shooter? I guess you could always play the super-fun Mario Kart: Double Dash!! instead. That being said, there is online multiplayer for up to 4 players which is cool.
Its premise is incredibly promising yet Kandagawa Jet Girls does nothing but disappoint with its monotonously slow racing that feels like it's aimed towards small children but should kids really play a game with excessive thong shots and bouncing boobs? Probably not.
- + Cheerful and fun-filled game world
- + Fantastic music and voice acting
- + Lots of content to work through
- - Gameplay is downright boring with very slow racing and simple mechanics
- - Generally unchallenging and tedious
- - No local multiplayer whatsoever