We've seen a ton of cool Touhou games in recent years and here's a kart racer where you fly around on the familiar cast of maidens.
Over the past few years, I've played a lot of Touhou games yet I never imagined that we'd ever get a kart racer. Gensou Skydrift has you control 2 ladies simultaneously as one rides the other. This may sound absolutely ridiculous and it definitely is yet this aspect is openly made fun of in the very self-aware dialogue sequences. It also reminded me a great deal of Mario Kart: Double Dash which is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, Gensou Skydrift is a fantastic racing game that I highly recommend even if you have no idea what the heck this Touhou thing is all about. The tight and challenging gameplay makes every match exciting while the lighthearted atmosphere and silly premise elevate the fun to a whole new level. I was not expecting it to be this good so imagine my delight after playing it for myself.
Controlling your racer in Gensou Skydrift is very simple as you hold a button to accelerate and another to brake and drift. As you play, you'll aim for going through magic gates which give you a boost and increase your magic meter. Once it's full, you can summon a card which acts as a power-up item that may allow you to boost, fire projectiles, or even enter a powerful state via Last Words. Both you and your partner have magic meters so you can change positions with them to earn a summon card from them once their gauge is full. As a result, you'll find yourself regularly swapping between your 2 characters while using as many cards as strategically as possible in order to claim victory. Plus, the tight controls and thrilling track layouts make this formula really shine.
Gensou Skydrift looks and sounds fantastic. Sure, the visuals aren't amazing yet the colourful stages and adorable character models are perfect for lighthearted racing fun. The only issue that I have with the graphics is that some of the tracks are ridiculously difficult to navigate, especially the ones later in the campaign. You'll have to basically memorize these complex stages because they aren't very intuitive. On the plus side, doing so while discovering handy shortcuts can be an exceptionally rewarding endeavour.
Anyway, the upbeat music makes racing even more enjoyable and the dialogue scenes within the story campaign are a treat to watch with plenty of self-referential humour and goofy moments. If you're a fan of Touhou like I am then these scenes will bring you a lot of joy but even if you aren't, you'll at least think they're funny enough to laugh out loud from time to time.
When it comes to content, Gensou Skydrift features a comprehensive single player story campaign that unlocks characters, tracks, and such as you progress through it. There's also a Versus mode which allows you to set up matches against CPU players whether you're playing solo or with local friends. This mode also includes online multiplayer which is awesome although I couldn't find anyone to play with so far. Next, Free Run mode allows you to freely master the courses and it doubles as a time attack mode. Finally, you can unlock a gallery mode and there's a spot to enter a bonus costume code but I have no idea what those are. If you know, please leave a comment below! Overall, this is a solid collection of content but I wish there were more single player modes and challenges. Also, the local multiplayer mode doesn't feature any options which is disappointing as all you do is select your characters and course.
Gensou Skydrift is one of the best kart racers released in recent years. From its hilarious premise to its tight and challenging gameplay, I absolutely recommend this to any kart racing fan whether you know what Touhou is or not.
- + Tight kart racing gameplay with cool twists
- + Lovely stages, music, and cast of characters who are great fun to watch interact
- + Enjoyable online and local multiplayer
- - Some tracks are too confusingly laid-out
- - Could use more single player modes
- - Multiplayer doesn't have many options