- System: PlayStation Vita
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Developer: Tamsoft
- Release Date: September 8th, 2017
- Rating: T for Teen
- Genre: Action, Racing
- Players: 1
Who it Caters to
Which finally brings us to Drive Girls. Much like its 2 predecessors, you’ll choose from a selection of curvy cuties who, if they lose enough health, will be stripped of their armor and reduced to their bra and panties. Also, in the tradition of Onechanbara, Drive Girls is priced cheaply at $29.99 as opposed to the standard $39.99 for Vita games. The combat mechanics are fairly simple, where combat comes down to mashing the attack button and occasionally dodging out of the way. The story is even largely tongue-in-cheek, so if you were into the self-awareness of Onchechanbara and Senran Kagura, Drive Girls has probably already caught your attention.
What to Expect
Of course, this being Drive Girls, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the driving mechanics. Each girl can transform into a car, which is mainly used to quickly transport yourself from one nest to another. You have to be careful of running over mines along the road, which hurt a bit and knock you out of your car form, slowing you down. You can mow down enemies as a car, which seems to stun them and builds up your EP faster. Also, there are a few missions where you have to race against someone through a race track and make strategic use of boosts.
Drive Girls Trailer – PS VITA:
Drive Girls is clearly meant to be taken as self-parody. While the story is told mostly straight, it constantly undermines itself by addressing common tropes found in other stories like it. When Seven calls that it’s time for the girls to roll out, the rest of the team comments how they let Seven say it since it was her turn in the story to say it. It never once attempts to justify its game world to the players. Not even the central mechanic of transforming into cars is explained. They can just do it because, hey, why not?
However, don’t take all that as praise. Just because it’s meant to be taken as parody does not make it particularly funny or a memorable parody. It doesn’t work because the game never goes far enough. The idea that you have a clearly fetish-y concept that has no basis in reality is funny, especially when they refuse to even acknowledge it as strange. But the narrative never does anything fun with the concept. For example, you’ll find the standard “girls take a bath together to bond” scene. The set-up here is perfect. You could have their bath area designed like a carwash or auto shop, and the girls could transform into their car forms and discuss how difficult it is to access their “headlights” or “exhaust pipes” as thinly veiled innuendo to drive home how ridiculous this set-up is. Instead, the girls remain in their human forms and wear skimpy outfits in the shower and just go through all the motions you’d expect in this sort of sequence. As a result, the parody rings as hollow as an excuse to justify the leering rather than a genuine attempt at comedy.
There is also a bit of engaging risk/reward to the Drive system. In order to charge your Drive gauge, you’re left entirely defenseless. Since boosting your attack strength is critical to finish a mission quickly, there is a bit of tension stopping your onslaught by leaving yourself vulnerable for these moments.
This is a fine idea in concept since it puts the onus on the player to make use of it rather than feeling forced into traveling by car. There are a few major issues with the execution. Since levels are largely just a long, straight line, they end up feeling pretty same-y. The only way the game has to mix up the design is by how the mines are arranged and how the walls are positioned, and there’s only so much you can do with this. Not only that, but the hitboxes on the mines are so wide, and there’s so little space in between them, that it’s hard to judge where the game intends for you to drive, if even at all. Finally, there are also chests lying all over the roads as well. You can break them by running into them, but you won’t actually get the item inside. You have to awkwardly turn around in car form or turn back into a human to grab what was inside. Since it’s generally a health or EP restoring item, you could make the argument that it’s to incentivize better play. However, the issue with this is that your drive is always draining when you’re not in combat, so it’s almost always worth it to grab the item.
Worse yet, while it only takes one hit to stun you, you’re never really sure what’s going to stop them. There’s definitely something that does, as we found the only way to reliably beat host enemies was to get them locked into a combo and just keep attacking them while they were stunned. What was causing the stun? Sometimes we’d perform a full combo without the enemy flinching once while they responded with an attack of their own. Sometimes we’d hit them and they’d be immediately stunned. Sometimes they’d get stunned in the middle of a combo. Were we wearing them down? Did we interrupt them in the middle of an attack? We don’t know.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
There are some okay ideas in Drive Girls regarding the concept, but it fails to utilize them in any meaningful way. If Drive Girls went further with the story, it could have at least been a bit of campy fun. Unfortunately, it does not, and Drive Girls’ gameplay isn’t enough to make it worth a recommendation to anyone, even longtime fans of Onechanbara and Senran Kagura craving something new.
- Fluid combat system
- Semi-self-aware story that might occasionally elicit a chuckle
- Repetitive combat that’s easily exploited
- Goofy premise doesn’t go nearly far enough