Do you like puzzles? Do you like platforming? Do you like driving? Do you like action? Then I have the perfect game for you that combines all four of those genres and even advertises that it does! Released in 2005 for the PlayStation Portable, GripShift was developed by Sidhe and published by Red Mile Entertainment and Platform Publishing. Let’s get behind the wheel in this bizarre mix of gameplay for this GripShift review.
This is one of the rare games in my collection of video games that doesn’t have much of a plot or story. During my GripShift review I didn’t encounter a shred of story so let’s head to the gameplay.
My GripShift review of the gameplay will revolve around the four different genres that the game advertises with a bonus section because I found it to be the best part of the game. So what is GripShift? Well, that’s a loaded question but it’s a combination of mini-games and puzzles where you take control of a car. Racing, token collecting, and timed platforming all are at the forefront of GripShift. Starting with the “puzzle” section in this GripShift review, you’ll be tasked with driving your car on different tracks collecting stars, and making it to the finish line under a time goal. The puzzle aspect comes with figuring out which stars to collect first before turning down the other roads to finish the course. There’s some strategy that goes into completing these tracks with finding shortcuts and determining the best route.
The platforming part of my GripShift review is probably the most difficult part of the game. The courses that you race on and collect stars on are occasionally on different heights. Racing toward a jump boost will launch your car in the air but you’ll need to carefully hit the nitro boost or slam on the brakes to land on the next platform. There are also moving platforms that shift all the time. These can best be completed by hitting the nitro boost to zoom across all of them before they shift again. It’s a fun feeling when everything works out well but it rarely does and leads to frustrating replays of the same course over and over.
My racing aspect to my GripShift review is a fun one. When you aren’t collecting stars in twisting courses, you’re racing on them against other cars. These races don’t last long. Most of them were only about a minute long which makes replaying them until you win doable. Steering is always a bit difficult in GripShift as the car takes a while to get going but to help you during your races are little perks like rockets, shields, and TNT boxes. Don’t expect any in-depth race tracks or sophisticated environments. These races remind me of hot-wheel tracks with the loops and jumps.
So where does the “action” part come in for my GripShift review? Well, I believe the action is part of the racing where you can shoot missiles and drop TNT boxes for your opponents to crash into. You’ll fall off the track a million times whether you’re collecting the stars or racing. It’s not a matter of if but when. Luckily your car reappears pretty quickly and the whole game acts as a trial and error process to completing levels. This is okay if you have the patience. I was able to complete many levels during my GripShift review but it wasn’t all fun. It felt like I was forcing myself to keep replaying these courses and levels I didn’t want to play. You score points and medals off of your performance and with that, you unlock more courses or game modes. This is too bad because some of the best parts about GripShift are locked behind performance-based rewards.
The mini-games that I unlocked were plenty of fun. Penguin bowling was entertaining as you raced your car down tracks to crash into penguins set up as bowling pins. There were other games like pool but I couldn’t unlock it. With over 100 levels to race and collect stars on, it would take a very skilled and dedicated player to learn how to complete each course. Think of GripShift as a burst of 60 seconds of fun at a time or 60 seconds of disappointment. I’m sure readers who have had one-night stands know exactly the feeling.
What GripShift does very well is the music and characters. I could tell that much love went into the soundtrack to this game with all the unique and original songs. I was bobbing my head and tapping my fingers on the PSP as I raced along to the beats. The other great thing from my GripShift review was how ridiculous the characters were. These were the most stereotypical douchey people from the early 2000s and I loved it. Think of the frat guy with spiked hair and a popped collar with a visor and sunglasses. These are the types of racers you can choose from and the women were just as bad. It was great and definitely made me laugh when cycling through my options. The menu was filled with sound effects that were straight from the early 2000s complete with record scratches and immature noises.
I purchased GripShift brand new from eBay. I didn’t know what to expect but I sure was excited to play it after being hit with the soundtrack and character options. My excitement dwindled after I replayed stage after stage to complete it and unlock more stages that were just as challenging.
GripShift Review Score:
GripShift is a game designed for people with patience to play stages over and over until you get it right and will punish you by keeping the fun parts of the game locked until you complete the hard stuff. It has a wonderful soundtrack and some great characters but unless you are a master of platforming and control, GripShift is better left on the shelf. You may have fun with it on a plane or car ride but if you’re looking for a PSP game to play all weekend, this isn’t it.
GripShift scores a 6.2 out of 10.
What would you write in your GripShift review? What was your favorite game mode? Were you able to unlock all of the mini-games? Can you think of any other games that are similar to it? Let me know your thoughts and comments, I’d love to read them.