Race with Ryan review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Outright Games
Developer: 3D Clouds
Medium: Digital/Disc/Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: No

I?d be lying if I said I even partially understood the idea behind Race with Ryan. It?s a kart racer based on a YouTube channel that, as far as I can tell, is entirely about some spoiled kid whose parents bought him so many toys that toy companies started sending him toys so they could get product placement. I mean, I barely get YouTube personalities at the best of times (my viewing is almost exclusively limited to old public domain movies and yoga routines), so the idea of turning one — and particularly this one — into a kart racing game kind of (okay, mostly) baffles me.

And, to a very large extent, you probably need to be a fan — or at least a parent of a fan — to get the most out of Race with Ryan. The eponymous Ryan, along with his parents, are liberally featured throughout the game, not only with videos of all three of them offering tips and trash-talking, but with Ryan himself popping up on the screen every time you use an item. On top of that, there are cartoons from, I assume, the Extended Ryan Cinematic Universe, with anthropomorphic animals throwing out catch phrases and one-liners. As someone who wasn?t aware of the YouTube channel?s existence prior to playing this game — I really only wanted to play a new kart racer — it?s all pretty baffling to me, but I assume it?s a selling point for fans.

As for the kart racing side of this kart racing game, that leaves a little more to be desired. There are only six tracks here, and none of them really stand out from each other. Even if you play through any of the career modes, each grand prix only has three tracks, and there?s lots of recycling from one grand prix to the next. The karts are similarly nothing special, with only one standing out — and that one stands out in a bad way, because it features a mast that partially blocks your view of the track ahead of you.

That said, the racing itself is fine. The karts handle well. There?s a nice array of weapons to be had, and which are distributed rather liberally throughout every track. The only real issue is that there?s the occasional bit of crazy rubber-banding, where you?ll build up a massive lead, only for all the other cars to suddenly soar through space and time to catch up to you. It?s not the worst example I?ve ever seen in a game, but it?s still pretty noticeable.

Really, though, there?s no reason why you should put up with a kart-racer that?s merely fine when you have so many other better options out there, most of which are just as suitable for the demographic Race with Ryan is aiming for. Admittedly, none of those are tie-ins with YouTube channels, so if you?re getting it because of that, it?s hardly the most offensive licensed game ever, so it?s not torture. It?s not great, either, so think of this game as a teachable moment: you could get your kid this, or you could get them hooked on Mario Kart 8. Choose wisely.

Outright Games provided us with a Race with Ryan Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-