Drive Girls review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Tamsoft
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

To some extent, I have no problem believing that Drive Girls was made by Tamsoft. After all, they’re known for developing games in the Senran Kagura and Hyperdimension Neptunia series, and I can see those franchises’ DNA in Drive Girls. Like the Neptunia games, Drive Girls is all about a group of…let’s calll them “girls of an indeterminate age”, and like Senran Kagura, Drive Girls sees nothing wrong with gratuitous shots of its protagonists in their underwear.

However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Because regardless of what I may think of those other franchises (for the record: generally pro-Neptunia, anti-Senran Kagura), I can at least admit that they were competently made games. I don’t think I could say that about Drive Girls.

For starters, its combat, to be generous, is thoroughly mediocre. As much as I dislike Senran Kagura, I’ll concede that the “beating up enemies” part of the game isn’t too bad. By contrast, Drive Girls’ combat is awkward, with repetitive attacks and a camera that, to be blunt, absolutely sucks. You’re facing down wave after wave of bland, uninspired enemies, and it doesn’t take long before they all blend together.

Similarly, the story is incomprehensible. Say what you will about Hyperdimension Neptunia games, but I always found that they knew how to tell fun — if a slightly odd — stories. Drive Girls does not. The game takes place in a world where humans can transform into automobiles, and the eponymous heroines are defending their island from mechanized bugs. Setting aside the innate weirdness, that should be a pretty easy story to tell. Instead, you have lots of talking head cutscenes that add nothing, and just dilute the story with incomprehensible gibberish.

Surprisingly, the best part of Drive Girls is also the part that least resembles Tamsoft’s other games. Every so often, the game takes advantage of its bizarre premise, and forces you to race against car-people. I wouldn’t say the cars handle spectacularly well, and for a game that allows you to fight as a car its vehicular combat during races kind of sucks, but it’s still not as poorly done as other aspects of the game.

That doesn’t mean you need to pick it up, though. Drive Girls probably isn’t as terrible as its Metacritic score suggests, but it’s also nowhere near good, and unless you have a strange Transformers fetish, it’s a game that you can easily skip.

Grade: C-