The Asphalt racing series, which long called Google Play and the Apple App Store home, has made the leap to console’s with the release of a Nintendo Switch port of Asphalt 9: Legends. A freemium experience very much akin to something players would expect to find on mobile phones, will this release be worth the time investment?
For starters, it should be noted that, though aesthetically similar to the Android version of the game, Legends allows for a lot more control on the Switch. The traditional control setup on phones robs the player of any real control, instead putting them in charge of things like drifting, boosting, and choosing which lanes and paths to take. While connecting a controller to your phone will allow for a more robust setup, it still feels like a dumbed-down version of Need For Speed. Such is not the case on Nintendo’s console; controls feel a lot more in-depth, and the moment-to-moment gameplay feels much more exciting without the AI assistance.
It’s also important to note that Asphalt 9: Legends takes the arcade madness of games like Burnout and dials it up to eleven. Cars ram into each other, pull off impossible 360s, and somehow manage perfect mid-air 720 spins. It’s high-octane insanity, and, so long as you’re prepared for that going in and are inclined to appreciate such things, you’re in for a solid racing experience.
That said, the real drag here is the nearly offensive level of monetization present in the game. While some will argue that Asphalt 9 has every right to introduce microtransactions ad-nauseum since it doesn’t charge anything to download, it still feels egregious.
However, there are additions to the Switch version which makes the unfortunate microtransaction situation worth enduring. Legends introduces a series-first four-player local co-op mode which, though it only features 42 of the impressive 70 tracks available in the game, is a definite win for Switch fans. There’s also online PvP, as well as a clan system that tasks groups of players with outscoring other clans.
All in all, Asphalt 9: Legends is probably worth checking out on Switch. There aren’t many quality racing titles on the console at the moment, even less so when it comes to local multiplayer. Plus, though the microtransactions employed here can grow to be annoying, they usually don't detract from the fun gameplay.
Free-to-start games are becoming something of a trend on the Switch. We’ve known about a Switch Asphalt port for a few months now, and Bethesda is apparently still bringing Elder Scrolls: Blades to the console fairly soon. Nintendo themselves experimented with this release strategy with Super Kirby Clash. If this is a trend that continues, we can only hope developers become a bit less aggressive with the microtransactions.