Gear.Club started out as a free to play mobile game, designed to while away bored minutes on the bus and sometimes grab a couple of bucks from you when you wanted a fancy new McLaren or whatever. Gear.Club Unlimited is still designed to while away the bored minutes, although now everything is unlocked and it’s on the Switch. The question is, is this an improvement?
Ok, functionally Gear.Club is a perfectly adequate port of a mobile game. It runs smoothly, loads quickly, and looks nice enough, though it won’t win any prizes for beauty. The downside is that it’s a port of a mobile game to a console, and if you genuinely bought a $500 console to play mobile games then I strongly question many of your life choices.
The origins of Gear.Club as a FTP timewaster are obvious. Races are fairly straightforward affairs, lasting a couple of minutes each, and almost impossible to lose, since the AI seem to think they’re out for a leisurely Sunday cruise rather than in a street race. The upgrade system is rooted in piecemeal unlockables, with different garage modules available for purchase as various milestones are hit. There’s nothing inherently bad about this, but it just feels odd and fiddly.
There are quite a few cars, all with various upgrades that, while pretty tiny individually, make a difference overall if you’ve grown attached to a particular car. You can customise most of your vehicle, except for special editions; I learned this after purchasing an expensive Lotus, and realising I was stuck with an orange and black paint job. Looked like a damn Halloween advert, but hey, I won the races.
The cheapest feeling part of the game is the in-game help. A static cartoon character informs you of new races, availability of upgrades, and acts as your basic help. But the static image and lack of a voice actor really drive home the fact that this isn’t as fancy as the screenshots would have you believe.
There are fun things in Gear.Club Unlimited too, of course. At its core, it’s a perfectly serviceable racing sim, if a bit easy, and I do like winning things. In fact, I’ve barely lost, except for those times when I tried to corner too aggressively and ended up facing the wrong way… I never said I was GOOD at the game, did I?
There’s multiplayer too, but only locally via splitscreen. Which, honestly, I prefer over online multi, since I am an old person who misses the days of four people in room trying to squint at a quarter of a 16″ television.
What, just me?
I’m being dismissive, but only because this game is the pinnacle of mediocrity. It’s not that it’s bad, just bland, forgettable, and repetitive.
This isn’t Gran Turismo or Forza, nor is it Mario Kart. It’s not even Drive Club. Gear.Club is what it is; a mobile game on a console. I get that there’s a market for a more realistic racing sim than Mario Kart on the Switch, but if it wasn’t for the low price tag I’d say this wasn’t it.
That’s the saving grace of Gear.Club, really; it makes no claims to be more than it is. It’s a cheap, basic, time sink of a racing sim and, while it’s some mindless fun for a little bit, you’d have to really love the genre to stick with it. If you’re more desperate than I am for some vroom vroom on the Switch, without the risk of a blue shell, this might be for you. It’s just not for me.