Review: Snow Moto Racing Freedom – Nintendo Life


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Without the spectre of Wave Race lurking over its shoulder (unlike label-mate Aqua Moto Racing Utopia), Snow Moto Racing Freedom would seem to be free to carve out its own arcade racing niche on Switch.

In this case developer Zordix shifts its attention from jet-ski to snowmobile racing, and the result is a slightly rough arcade racer with an admittedly distinctive flavour.

First impressions aren’t particularly great, even coming straight off the underwhelming Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. While that game was at least quite vibrant, Snow Moto Racing Freedom’s bland graphics lack detail and visual variety. There are only so many shades of white you can throw at the screen before you crave some colour.

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It’s an unwieldy beast to control, too; these snowmobiles are inherently slippery customers thanks to the snowy surfaces. With all of the power supplied from the rear and blade-like steering skis at the front, you’ll initially find yourself fish-tailing between under and oversteer to an alarming degree.

Get used to the peculiar handling model, though, and Snow Moto Racing Freedom turns out to be reasonable fun. 

You basically need to approach these machines as exaggerated supercars rather than off-road hatchbacks. Lay on all the power you dare in the straights, then lift off entirely (with the odd blip of the throttle) in the corners – always taking into consideration the effect that bumps and surface types will have on your traction. 

There are additional controls to consider for these unique machines. Holding ZL on the ground or in the air will enable you to turn the machine much sharper than usual, while the right stick enables you to pull off a variety of poses and stunts to help fill your turbo metre.

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Talking of which, this turbo metre is a much more flexible tool than it is in Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. You don’t have to exhaust it all in one button press, for one thing, and you have access to it far more often. Besides straights, it’s particularly useful for getting you up momentum-sapping hills.

You’ll get to employ these varied techniques across two main types of race. There are point-to-point Sprint races, where you and a group of AI rivals criss-cross an open environment and through narrow checkpoints. Then there are the Snocross tracks – tight, compacted, painted-out courses that rather resemble BMX bike races.

There are multiple single player championships dedicated to these two disciplines. After a few of these you’ll earn enough points to unlock the Freedom League, which combines courses from the two.

Mercifully, unlike Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, Snow Moto Racing Freedom doesn’t lean too heavily on its stunt system. While it’s functional within the context of the races, it remains somewhat clumsy and awkward in isolation, so a dedicated stunt category wouldn’t have been welcome.

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Like Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, though, there’s a highly physical sense of hustle and bustle to the racing; it can be maddening. When you’re struggling against the nature of the course and the vehicle handling as much as any opposition, being full-on clouted just as you’re lining up a big jump rarely feels fun.

Course resets aren’t particularly punitive, however, and you can freely restart any championship race without penalty. But that seems to suggest that the developer recognises there’s just a little too much chaos to its racing model.

You also get split-screen multiplayer for up to four players across each of the game’s courses. Tacked onto that is a rather superfluous Leisure mode that allows you to free-ride across several featureless environments. Why would you want to do this? No idea, but we prefer the goofy party games of Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. 

Conclusion

Snow Moto Racing Freedom is another scrappy, challenging and rough-around-the edges extreme sports racer from Zordix. It’s not going to win any technical awards, and it takes real patience to master its awkward handling and unforgiving physics.

For those who crave something different from the racing genre norm, a little perseverance will yield a surprisingly entertaining arcade experience for one to four players, albeit one that could leave some feeling cold.


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