Disney Speedstorm Preview — Turbo-Charged Disney fun

To stand out in a genre, you have to make bold choices and stick to them. Disney Speedstorm, a new racing game by the folks over at Gameloft, understands the value of boldness. This game is full of some of your favorite characters from the Disney universe racing in a multitude of modes. I had the honor to preview this game and I had a lot of fun overall, so let’s get on track and see what this game has to offer in its preview release.

The wide range of game modes you can play is the game’s most important feature. There is a pretty robust campaign mode that teaches you how to play the characters, challenges you in different modes, and gives you plenty of rewards. As a big fan of Diddy Kong Racing on the N64, it was fun having a campaign of any sort in a racing game. While it’s not open world like Diddy Kong Racing was, it was still a helpful game mode for getting rewards and getting characters to play.

During your time with the campaign, you’ll unlock new game modes. Ranked Multiplayer lets you take the racers you’ve unlocked and race them to add to your rank. This was the weakest of the game modes for me because it relied most on leveled up characters, which threatens to be a pay-to-be-better situation early on the higher the price you pay. While I still got 1st or 2nd quite a bit, there was always someone with a higher level character that felt like they had an advantage. To counter that, is the Regulated Multiplayer which lets everyone play at the same level and abilities. This was a lot more fun because it felt much more even, if not chaotic due to all the abilities on the track at a time. Alongside everyone being on the same level, the game mode also allows you to borrow characters you may not have unlocked yet, similar to how Pokemon UNITE handled its character roster.

While those, seemingly, will be the most played modes, we also have a Season Tour mode which is a sort of campaign themed around the “Golden Pass” for that time period (essentially their version of the Battle Pass). The Golden Pass includes everything from racer shards (how you unlock characters), to new racing costumes, icons, season coins, and more. Seems like it’ll be a decent deal for those who want new characters from that movie (the first being Monsters Inc). While I’m not a fan of the Battle Pass system for games, I understand that it’s a normal model for games today.

Lastly, we have Local Freeplay and Private Tracks which allow you to test your skills by yourself or with a friend. While testing the multiplayer, it was a tad more difficult to play due to the speed of the game and the screen width for each player. It will probably be easier when you’re not splitscreen, but the splitscreen was a bit challenging.

The gameplay itself was pretty easy to pick up for me. While it’s not the same as a game like Mario Kart, it does have a decently intuitive mapping for buttons. I played my time on the Nintendo Switch and the ZR button being gas just made sense if it wasn’t going to be A like in Mario Kart and other racing games I’ve played. Something I found myself doing early was letting go of the ZR button when the boost was activated, but that was something I fixed quickly. With boosts for drifting and hitting boost circles, drifting became my main source of boosts (ZL). It just feels right drifting in this game. Each map had several opportunities to drift and gain boosts which added to the chaos.

Graphically, this game is adequate for how much is happening. It doesn’t look as polished as Mario Kart, but the fast paced nature of the game didn’t leave me wanting anything more. The animators chose a style and animated the characters to all fit that style. Load times are consistent going from race to race. The only time I felt the game lagged was moving from menu to menu. Sometimes it would take just a bit too long loading into the item shop or the customization for characters. While these are not big issues for me, it would be nice for them to be looked at for future patches.

Now, let’s discuss what will probably be the main draw for people: the characters. Depending on which version of the game you choose, you’ll have some characters automatically unlocked such as Micky Mouse. If you get the Ultimate Founders Pack ($69.99) you get more characters and you get to choose one extra from the roster. Now, let’s be clear, you CAN unlock almost every character by playing through the game. Some characters will be MUCH easier to level up like Micky or Donald, while some like Meg, Belle, Mowgli will take longer. Again, the difference between Ranked and Regulated Multiplayer comes into play. I found myself forced to use Micky and Donald because I had their special ability unlocked (think the special abilities characters had in Mario Kart: Double Dash). This made me not play Ranked as much until I get the characters I want and have them leveled up more.

The roster is full of characters from different movies each falling into a specific category; Speedster (Micky, Belle, Mowgli, Belle), Brawler (Donald, Hercules, Beast), Defender (Goofy, Elizabeth Swann, Shang, Baloo), and Trickster (Jack Sparrow, Meg, Mulan). Each one has different statistics allowing you to find your favorite and level those characters up. Each character also has different items they can use during matches. This also makes you have to choose sometimes based on the items you want, rather than the character. I found myself enjoying speedster and I regret using my “bonus character unlock” on neither Belle nor Mowgli. Alongside the main drivers are the pit crew which adds bonuses, these are generally side characters like Pluto, Mushu, Mrs. Potts, etc. They are all available in a few different venues and are upgradeable as well.

Along with the roster, you have a few different customization options already in the game. Generally most characters have five or six different color outfits, different colors for the car, tires, wings, and plates. All unlockable throughout the game or through the Universal Box (unlocked with season coins) and multiplayer boxes (unlocked with multiplayer coins). All can be unlocked by playing the Limited Events or Season Tour. Again, it’s not “pay-to-win” because you have to play the game to get the coins. But having the Battle Pass and buying the bigger versions of the game are definitely a “pay-to-be-better” early.

The tracks are really fun and chaotic. The whole game is fast paced, but the tracks really shine with the chaos. There are different versions of the tracks to go with the different campaign chapters. This does make things feel less stagnant even if you may play the same location twice, there’s a chance it looks different in ways. Along with that, the music for each of these tracks are so much fun. Generally they are all remakes of nostalgic Disney tunes such as Zero to Hero from Hercules, Beauty and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, etc. They were all so much fun and again, added to the chaos.

While I do worry about the “Pay-to-be-better” aspect of Ranked Multiplayer, I do believe that Disney Speedstorm has some great bones and with the addition of more maps and characters, it should be a good game for any Disney fan!

Adam is a musician and gamer who loves his partner in crime, Regan, and their two pets Rey and Finn. Adam is a fan of Star Wars, Mass Effect, NFL Football, and gaming in general. Follow Adam on Twitter @TheRexTano.

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