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Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 8 Critic Reviews What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Summary: Assume the role of a young hoverbike racer who needs to figure out how to scrape enough cash together through racing and odd jobs to punch your one-way ticket to the Red Planet to enter the biggest race in the universe, the Grand Prix.


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Desert Child - Official Trailer | E3 2018
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 8
  2. Negative: 3 out of 8
  1. Dec 11, 2018
    At its best, Desert Child captures the feeling of working toward a big dream while struggling to even buy your next meal. Unfortunately, those moments come sandwiched between a lot of repetition as the initially fun races become a chore that you have to do over and over again. Desert Child's unique setting, filled out with great art and a killer soundtrack, is fun to explore for a while, but the game runs out of gas a little too quickly.
  2. Feb 4, 2019
    In the end, Desert Child is best played as an interactive tribute album to Cowboy Bebop, where its multitudinous soundscapes can carry the weight of expectations and leave an element of surprise to its various mechanical bits — the soundtrack really is that good. Even without that charitable framing, however, I can squint and see a more cohesive and expressive game hiding in this hard luck heap. Though Desert Child’s eclecticism may not hold up when it’s weighed against the conventional expectations of what makes for a Great Videogame, it’s certainly interesting. For players willing to brush off its rougher edges, that may make it even more worthwhile.
  3. Dec 11, 2018
    This could be a lovely proof of concept for a bigger game; as it stands, it's hard not to get caught up thinking about all that it could have been.
  4. 50
    Desert Child is that kid you knew who watched a whole lot of Cowboy Bebop thinking it’d be cool to dress like Spike Spiegel in school. We appreciate the effort, but looking cool is different from actually being cool. This isn’t the poser of video games, but it gets close to it.
  5. Edge Magazine
    Jan 4, 2019
    A game that, while dripping in style, is miserably lacking in substance. [Issue#328, p.118]
  6. Jan 13, 2020
    Other than its commendable art style, the gameplay experience is not challenging and is mostly devoid of serious engagement, even for a simple effort. Overall, Desert Child has not received the treatment it should in order to be recommended as a racing game in the Nintendo Switch catalogue.
  7. 35
    If I were to judge Desert Child exclusively on its aesthetics, I would have nothing but glowing praise for it. From the gorgeous pixel art to the incredible soundtrack, Desert Child looks outstanding. Looks can be deceiving though, and it’s clear that much more time was spent on crafting a distinct style than fine-tuning gameplay. If you’ve so much as watched a trailer for Desert Child, you’ve already experienced everything worth seeing in the game.

See all 8 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Dec 12, 2018
    Desert Child is a racing arcade game first and foremost, with an interesting design choice that falls somewhere between Turbo Grafix andDesert Child is a racing arcade game first and foremost, with an interesting design choice that falls somewhere between Turbo Grafix and Microsoft Paint. Aside from the main focus of side-scroll racing/dodging - the light story accompanying the game is steeped in more of a classic JRPG vibe.

    As somebody who grew up with games like Off-Road and Pod Racer, this is kind of a quaint nod to those good old days of race/progress/buy/race with just a little extra meat thrown in.

    Where it failed was surprisingly in the marketing department. People were led to believe this was a story heavy RPG - with less focus on the racing only as a means of earning money or experience. The developers liken the game to other JRPG staples like FF, and anime staples like Cowboy Bebop.

    This can give all sorts of impressions of what your game truly is, so a word of caution there about building hype that AAA devs know all too well about. It's sad to see reviewers hate on the title on that alone though - because what IS there for a $12 price tag is pretty worthwhile.

    If you enjoy arcade racers, or endless runners - and don't mind some artistic flare of light RPG mechanics, give Desert Child a spin. 7/10
  2. Dec 31, 2018
    Desert Child is a 2 and a half D racer with light RPG progression. Beginning on planet earth, you will race to earn money to very quickly buyDesert Child is a 2 and a half D racer with light RPG progression. Beginning on planet earth, you will race to earn money to very quickly buy yourself a ticket to Mars. Where you’ll spend the majority of the game.

    Once on Mars the objective of the game is to save $10,000 to get into the Grand Prix. In order to do so you’ll have to race, which you collect cash pickups during and if you win, but that’s not the only way to earn money. You can also pick up side jobs such as herding Kangaroos, completing bounties, hacking banks, and my personal favorite delivering pizzas. All of them are slightly different spins on racing, which personally I would like if they have more of a unique feel as it’s very grindy when trying to earn that $10,000.

    There are things you can do along the way to increase your earnings. For example, when wandering the city, you find other bikes which you can hack and steal parts from. With a simple little hack game, where you have to press A just when the letter turns red, and if you mess up the hack starts over, and if you run out of time an alarm goes off. Standing there for a while after the alarm went off I never had authorities called on me though, which takes away a certain level of thrill from the crime. Which I might add, there are alot of illegal activities that you partake in that seem to have absolutely no consequences. Hacking banks and throwing races, which should be a nice balance of risk and reward, don’t matter. Hack the bank every chance that you get because you will never get caught.

    While i digress the entire point of robbing parts from other bikes is that you pick up new bike parts. These bike parts allow you to upgrade your bike with perks ranging from pick up more money, do more or take less damage, you know you're basic video game upgrades. The system of upgrading is a fun little mini game in itself though. Fitting together tetris like pieces, then having to connect them with your highly valuable power cells, gives you limitations and forces you to weigh which upgrades are really worth your time.

    Desert Child has a nice mix of maintenance that cause you to deplete the funds that you are saving for the big race. As your bike is sure to get damage during your races you have to pay to repair it and pay to feed yourself, as doing all of those races and side quests makes you one hungry guy. Certain foods replenish your hungry much faster, getting a fresh fish from the canals is a cheap way to satisfy the cravings, but I prefered pizza as I can squeeze in a quick delivery while I’m there. You would think that food on Mars would be a lot different than the food we serve here on Earth, but not the case.

    The meat of the game is the race, dodging pillars, projectiles, and tvs, you also have to balance picking up as much cash as possible, while still managing to get to the finish line before you opponent. As I have previously mentioned this game certainly has a grind to it, which you really feel because the racing isn’t that satisfying. You’ll see the same tracks over and over, and the races are very easy to complete. When finally getting to the Grand Prix, I came in first in every race the first time, and I am by no means good at racing games. Also when playing handheld, which was the bulk of my gameplay experience, the controls would give out during races, so I wouldn’t be able to control my bike. So my bike took a considerable amount of damage while I watched all that cash just blow on by. Through my 4-5 hour play through this only happened a handful of times, but enough for it to leave it’s impression.

    The world of Desert Child is an absolute highlight, when moving from objective to objective you walk through various scenes all from gorgeous forced perspectives, with a great soundtrack. Confusing at first, but once you know your way around the city you cruise through with no problem at all. The little side missions and conversations were my favorite part of this sci fi racer. Do be careful if you turn the music off though, a little buggy I had to close the game and restart to get the music to come back on multiple times.

    Desert Child is a very interesting experience. With a wonderful world to live in and great side tasks to keep you busy, unfortunately the main course of this racing game is just a little too stale. Feeling very repetitive very quickly and not really presenting enough of a difficult challenge to overcome.