This game is dumb. Really dumb. But y’know what? Dumb can be fun. And lord knows this fits that bill.
GENRE: Endless Driver (With Memes)
I have to admit, doing a full fledged review for a game as simple as Buck up and Drive is not an easy task. So this might be a biiiit shorter than you guys are used to from me. Buck Up and Drive is best described as an endless arcade racer with a bit of influence from classics like OutRun and …Street Fighter…?
Yeah, we’ll get into that second one, don’t you worry. The meat of Buck Up is Endless Drive mode, which as the name implies, never ends. The goal is to see how long you can keep driving across endless procedurally generated levels with a variety of backdrops such as cityscapes, countrysides, and uh…The moon. Yeah, the actual moon. This game does not take itself even remotely seriously, and frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What makes Buck Up so different in the world of arcadey racers is its surprisingly unique control scheme which makes use of the dpad (Or analog stick, but trust me, you want the dpad) and ONE button. There’s no gas or brakes on your car in this game, there’s only the Drift button. In Buck Up, you are always going at full throttle with the gas pedal essentially glued to the floor. The Drift button allows you to begin drifting to build up energy not unlike Mario Kart, which can then be used by releasing the drift button to gain a burst of speed. The longer you hold your drift, the better the boost is. The way the dpad plays into this is that you have different angles of drift based on the direction you’re pressing while holding the button: Be it left, right, up, down, or a diagonal. It’s an odd scheme for those used to a more traditional set of driving controls, but you’ll get used to it. Of course, you could also steer without holding the drift button…But if you’re not in the middle of a boost, why would you?!
Drifting, boosting, and performing Hurricane Spins (AKA Tatsus) Street Fighter style are at the heart of this game, because the traffic is an obstacle meant to be smashed through, not avoided. When you boost, or if you spin by doing a quarter circle input opposite your facing direction while drifting, you can actively smash through opposing traffic! You can also slam down on it from ramps with a double tap of down, as double taps in the air send you flying in that direction. How? Don’t ask, this game could care less about physics making sense. So rather than weaving through traffic, Buck up and Drive is all about forcing your way through it with nonstop aggression via your air smash, boost, and tatsus. It creates a very aggressive type of game that’s quite different from most arcade racers, since you’re probably used to seeing traffic as a thing to dodge, as opposed to a thing to destroy. But this does come with its own risk: Smash enough things and the cops show up to give you a hard time.
The enemy cops in Buck up have a variety of tools to give you problems: Tickets that suck away your score, giant spike balls to smash into you and spin you out, and they can just flat out ram you among other things. The key to getting past them? Well timed hurricane spins as they try to ram you! Again, this is a very aggressive kind of arcade racer. And there is an actual racing element in that every few stages, a rival shows up for you to try and beat. Beat the rival, and you win their car for future runs, although cars are purely cosmetic in this and don’t have any unique stats among them. But let’s be honest, most of us are going to use the Trueno once we unlock it.
Also, there is another game type that is best for local multiplayer, and is certainly a creative mode I have never seen in a racing game before: A fighting game. In Shifty Gear, you and another car 1v1 to see who is king of the road through brutal car on car combat, using your tatsu, air dive, and drift shockwaves (A thing exclusive to this mode) to scrap the other car. If you thought you’d never seen a footsies game between two cars in your life, well…Now you have.
So yeah, this definitely isn’t your typical arcade racer, but frankly that’s why I enjoy it so much I think. It’s very quick, stupid fun in short bursts, great when you just want some time to kill.
Now, all that is well and good, but there’s one thing I admit I adore about this game more than I should: The humor of it. Memes and comedy are all over the place with billboards, and all the various things that are on the tickets cops throw at you: Chances are you’ll need to pause to read them, but there’s some pretty funny ones in there for me.
At less than ten bucks, I honestly can say this is a great game when you’re looking for a simple distraction to take up a few minutes. This isn’t the kind of game you’ll necessarily play for hours on end, but when you need some quick, stupid fun? It’s definitely worth it to just Buck up and Drive!