Music games have always held a special place in my heart, especially those trying to find something unique with their rhythm-matching gameplay. So after watching the trailer for Music Racer Ultimate, I thought this game, developed by AbstractArt and published by Sometimes You, would be another fun game that’d scratch that rhythm itch. But, it turns out this mobile and PC game port needed a lot more thought and time before release.
Music Racer Ultimate is a collection of all content released for Music Racer, including new worlds and vehicles. However, there is no story to this game. Even the framework feels very barebones. There are no instructions even when booting the game up for the first time.
No instructions would be acceptable in some cases, but the options in the game menu aren’t necessarily self-explanatory. For example, the third option you pick doesn’t even tell you that you’re choosing where you’ll be getting your music. Honestly, the third page looks like it’s asking you if you want to play Multiplayer. “Local,” “Audius,” and “Link” sound like multiplayer modes! BUT THEY’RE NOT! Specifically, I couldn’t use Audius, a music streaming platform for all sizes of creators, because 1. I didn’t have an account, and 2. the game didn’t want to connect to the service. After several minutes of waiting for the game to connect and even asking me to log in, I gave up and just went with Local during my playtime.
Now, keeping with this point of there being no definitions or hints or anything, let’s talk about the cars. Being called a Music Racer and the cover featuring a car, you’d think the cars are an essential part of the game. They’re not. The cars are strictly cosmetic. However, it doesn’t come across that way with the pricing of the vehicles. The pricing is all over the place.
You can buy new levels and cars using points earned from completing levels. But some cars can be 1000 points, and others can be 100,000 points. Basic-looking cars can be extremely expensive, while a cool-looking bird can be cheap. If there were any consistency in the pricing, maybe I’d be okay with it all. But there’s not; there’s no rhyme or reason for any of it!
As for the levels, these are just another aggravation. They’re cheap to unlock, and you’d think they’re mostly cosmetic. But once again, they’re not! There are subtle changes between each level, and each change is, at minimum, an annoyance. For instance, one level may have a wobbly track where the car goes over hills and down into valleys. Another may just randomly slow you down, not even with the rhythm of the music. Finally, a third level choreographs where points will spawn.
I just want to reiterate that last example. There is a level that actually feels like a music game, giving you actual time and heads up on where the little point spots will spawn. In most other levels they’re just there, and I missed so many points because a level was winding around up and down, obscuring where points would be. It’s just tedious and annoying. Plus, there is no way of knowing what a level’s quirk will be when unlocking it.
There were several times I had to step away because it turned out that I had photosensitivity issues. I never had issues with flashing lights before, but they are just so intense here. Even on the lowest settings (which are buried in menus, mind you), the flashing lights, the waving tracks, and the pulses just hurt my brain so much. But, again, I never knew I had an issue with flashing lights like this before until I played this game. There is a warning when the game starts warning for this when the game starts, but I genuinely think the warning isn’t enough. The developers need to tone everything down or start the game on the lowest settings to help players. Levels can be blinding or give you a headache even after a short amount of playtime.
The most annoying part of Music Racer Ultimate may be the music and how points are laid out on levels. Just about every other music/rhythm game, the points that you aim for line up with the beats of the music. Not here in Music Racer Ultimate. The point placement feels all over the place, and it just sucks. Trying to line up movements to the beats just doesn’t work here. And that gets even more convenient when the controls feel slower playing on a controller (pardon the rhyme).
Music Racer Ultimate is all flash and no fun. For a music game, the music is okay, but the game itself is not satisfying to play. The rewards aren’t rewarding, the levels are aggravating, and the menus and layout are confusing. This port needed way more time in the oven to ensure that its trip to Xbox would actually feel right at home, not a mobile game that feels like it’s just on a bigger screen. At least its achievements are easy to get.
Music Racer Ultimate is available now on iOS, Android, PC, and Switch. In addition, Music Racer Ultimate is releasing on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on March 4, 2022.
Music Racer Ultimate
- Rating - 4/104/10
Music Racer Ultimate is all flash and no fun. For a music game, the music is okay, but the game itself is not satisfying to play. The rewards aren’t rewarding, the levels are aggravating, and the menus and layout are confusing. This port needed way more time in the oven to ensure that its trip to Xbox would actually feel right at home, not a mobile game that feels like it’s just on a bigger screen.