STAFF REVIEW of Race with Ryan (Xbox One)

Friday, November 22, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Race with Ryan Box art If you don’t have young kids, I couldn’t fault you for not knowing who Ryan is. For those of us that have seen more Ryan videos than we can count, you know all too well how crazy kids go for Ryan, his channels, toys and now games. For the uninitiated, Ryan’s World is a YouTube channel currently sitting with 22.4 million subscribers that started with Ryan, a young kid, essentially reviewing toys and games. As his channel grew, so did their production, popularity and now he’s a brand and local household name for anyone that has a young child. He’s taking in millions a month, has a toy line at Walmart and now has a new videogame, Race With Ryan; he’s doing pretty well for himself.

Just as the name implies, Race With Ryan is just that, a simple kart racer that takes influences from Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing and other greats, but injects the signature Ryan characters and kid-like aesthetic. If you know Ryan’s World, your kids will be ecstatic to know that all the known characters like Ryan, Combo Panda, Gus and the rest are all included, as are clips of him and his parents on their couch to introduce cup races. Am I the target audience, of course not, but my seven year old daughter was more than excited to play as her favorites.

Included are six tracks, ranging from a kid’s room, western themed and spooky haunted ones among a few others. Each track can be raced in reverse as well, totaling 12 different races you can partake in. Is that a very low number of tracks for a kart racer, yes, but will your young kid notice or mind, probably not; at least mine didn’t. At least each track is varied enough and has a different feel to keep them interested for longer.

There’s also enough variety in the character selection as well, as each character has a few different vehicles they can have. Some are car based, trains, helicopters and more. There’s no having to worry about each kind having different stats, as they are purely a cosmetic change. While I wish that any character could use any vehicle like in Mario Kart, my kid didn’t seem to mind.

Given that Race With Ryan is meant for a younger audience, the menu and mode selections are quite basic. You’re able to choose from a Quick Race if you want to simply get in and race as soon as possible before the kids lose interest, or the Career Mode where you’ll probably spend the majority of your time, which consists of a handful of races back to back.

Career Mode has a handful of different cups you can race in, all of which can be played in Easy, Medium or Hard difficulties. Cups will begin consisting of 3 races, but by the final cup, will have 6 to gain points in. Surprisingly, even career can be played in four player split screen if you have a bunch of kids and controllers at home, sadly there’s no online component though, strictly couch co-op.

Now I’ll be honest; I wasn’t really expecting much from the gameplay itself, given it’s meant for a much younger audience, and holding itself to Mario Kart’s high bar is a bit unrealistic. What I will say is that I was impressed with how smooth and decent the racing itself felt. The speed isn’t terribly fast, as again, it’s meant for a younger audience, and you can power-slide to drift and gain speed boost, much like Mario Kart, for the better skilled players. If you have very young kids or players that aren’t as skilled, you can toggle automatic acceleration and even an assistance for steering so they don’t constantly crash into the wall; a great touch for the very young players that want to play alongside their siblings.

Like any good kart racer, there’s also a bunch of powerups that can be used to help you during races. These can help you gain a speed boost, shields that rotate around you like hamburgers, paper airplanes that mimic a red shell, or tossing tennis or soccer balls to stun opponents. As you can see, this is a much more light hearted take on the standard Mario Kart powerups, fitting of Ryan’s World; though there’s not a lot of varied powerups overall.

Kids that are fans of Ryan will be pleased to know that not only is he featured in Race With Ryan, obviously, but they’ve also filmed short little intro videos that you’ll see throughout your time playing, either introducing you to cup tournaments or offering encouragement when you lose. The video looks as if it was filmed on someone’s phone, and the audio is even worse. Did my kid notice? No. Does it really affect the overall experience? Not really, but it was noticeable and seemed out of place with the lack of polish compared to the content they usually push out.

While my kid had a ton of fun with it, I wanted to get a few quotes from her about her thoughts about Race With Ryan, as she’s the target audience and has a ton of Ryan toys as is. I tried to get her to formulate a paragraph, but here’s her raw thoughts:

“It’s really good because you get to get new characters and I like racing with other people like my Mom and Dad.”.

“The graphics are really nice and colorful and the animation is good.".

"It's really hard to control (the drifting) and I hit the wall a lot.”.

“I like that all the characters are there, because my favorite is Combo Panda, and it’s awesome when I come in first place.”.

“I like seeing Ryan in the videos and that everyone sounds like they do on his channel.”.

“You should buy it because it’s a good game.”.

That final quote about sums up her experience with the game, as she really enjoyed her time with it. Do I have a laundry lists of issues with it? Absolutely. Does any of that matter when my seven year old is enjoying the game and is the target audience? Not in the slightest. What annoyed me the most was that the achievement unlocking doesn’t stack. There are achievements for winning each cup on each difficulty setting, but beating it on Hard doesn’t unlock Medium and Easy, so you will have to do each cup a minimum of 3 times to complete everything and unlock all of the extras. Again, my kid wasn’t discouraged by this, as she knew daddy would do it for her, but having to complete a cup on Hard to get her favorite character was a bit of a pain when I already did it twice before on the lower difficulties.

If I was to score the game solely on my experience and comparing it to others in the genre, it would have received a much lower score for its lack of track variety and dull gameplay overall, but I’m not basing this on my experience; I’m basing it on my daughter’s, who now gets to play a video game as one of her favorite YouTube stars. If your youngster is a Ryan’s World fan, they’ll certainly enjoy this youth friendly outing with Ryan and all his friends for a few laps around the track, even if it can’t hold a flame to classics in the same genre.

Overall: 6.2 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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