There's isn't a huge number of games to choose from on Nintendo Switch right now, but one of the titles to land in time for the console's launch is sci-fi speed demon Fast RMX. Shin'en has resurrected its Wii U racer - Fast Racing Neo - mixing up original tracks with new content and added polish. When we played the original, we liked it a lot, and Fast RMX certainly builds on the quality foundations laid down for the Wii U exclusive, although perhaps even more could have been done to maximise the game's impact as it makes the transition from old-gen machine to Nintendo's shiny new handheld-console hybrid.
But first, before we get critical, let's start with the good stuff. Most importantly, the sense of speed is there. This is a racer cut from the same cloth as Wipeout, and as such breakneck speed comes as standard. Fast RMX's unique twist is the orange and blue plates and gates that litter each track. Each ship has two modes, also blue and orange, and if you hit a plate/gate with your ship switched to the correct mode, you get a speed boost. Get it wrong and clash your colours and your momentum saps away until your hovering craft is crawling along in the wake of your opponents. Each ship also has the option to boost, and there are orbs dotted around the place and these can replenish your energy reserves.
Vanilla racing is quite nippy on its own, but once you start pushing your ride to the max, hitting plates/gates correctly, and using your boost tactically, the pace picks up considerably. In fact, it can be almost dizzying when the game hits its stride, and you'll have to wrestle your floating vehicle around each and every corner, dodging environmental obstacles and opponents, all the while reacting to the placement of boost plates and orbs on the track.
There's a number of different ships to unlock, and they're all balanced differently. Some pick up speed more quickly, others have a higher top speed, and there are others that have faster boost. The only other differences are cosmetic, but considering they all have similar handling and it's only in terms of speed that they vary, they each feel surprisingly individual. In terms of style, from the synthetic beats to the visual style, the Wipeout influence is once again writ large, and it feels very much like a spiritual successor.
Perhaps our favourite thing about Fast RMX is the variety of tracks. There's a really generous selection on offer, and Shin'en takes us to some really diverse locations. Each course is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, with jumps aplenty and environmental hazards lurking where you least expect them. As you unlock new tracks, they become more challenging, with moving obstacles forcing you to break away from your racing line, and geography that forces you to react quickly and accurately.
The tracks unlock in the championship mode, three at a time. There are three difficulty levels, and although all tracks are included across all modes, as and when you up the difficulty, you'll have to unlock the same tracks on the harder settings. Playing on Novice is fairly straightforward, but it doesn't take long for things to get more challenging, and by the end those easy podium finishes will be a thing of the past and it takes plenty of practice to stay ahead of the competition. Having said that, despite this being the main attraction, it still feels a little lightweight and could have done with more depth.
There is also Hero mode, which changes up the dynamic somewhat. Here you have to race more conservatively, because if you miss a jump and crash, it's game over. More challenging still, your boost and shield draw from the same source, so you can't just accelerate past the opposition with reckless abandon, and doing so will probably see you crash as soon as you accidentally clip a wall, obstacle or opponent. There's a final layer of difficulty here, in that you have to finish first; anything less and it's chalked down as a defeat.
The other way to play is multiplayer. We ventured online and enjoyed a few games with strangers, and there didn't seem to be any connectivity issues. Better still, you can either link up multiple Switch consoles and play locally that way (this is something we've yet to try out for obvious reasons), but most people will play split-screen. When playing with two sharing a screen, the frame-rate was surprisingly minimal and apart from some reduced background detail and rougher textures, it holds up well.
All told Fast RMX is solid sci-fi racer that looks sharp, plays smooth, and offers some much-needed high speed flavour to the launch of the Switch. However, it's not without issue. We didn't much like the soundtrack, the career mode lacks a little depth, and for games like this to step out from the shadow cast by Wipeout, we need to see something more from them (proper damage modelling, for example). That said, we still spent a few happy hours in its company, and it felt just as good played on the big screen as it did in the Switch's handheld mode. In the end this turned out to be a decent launch title, and given the slimline range of titles available on Nintendo's console at the time of writing, if you feel the need for speed, this is as good as it gets right now.