If I had a pound for every time a semi-clad lady came to exterminate the ‘roaches in my apartment…. I’d have nothing but Drive Girls. And I’m good with that. Drive Girls by Tamsoft is a fast-paced hack and slash adventure where you play as a group of scantily clad young women sporting robo-scifi outfits that leave almost nothing to the imagination. With the ability to transform into a selection of snazzy looking sports cars, it’s your job to save the world from a mecha-bug invasion – but in Drive Girls, you’ve got no need for Rentokill (unlike my apartment!).
The majority of the game’s story is told in the style of a visual novel – so if you’re into Strike Witches or virtual comics mixed with the sultry tones of Japanese Bishojo, Drive Girls should be right up your alley. A horde of robo-bugs have invaded a small Japanese island, like a terrestrial version of Starship Troopers but with more crotch shots. With the world in a state of panic but having managed to evacuate all the civilians from the bustling city, it’s your job to smash some Psi-bug butt and save the day. Luckily you won’t be going in empty handed as you’ll have just the thing you need: a super science item. This is a special piece of equipment that holds the power to transform its owner into a top-of-the-line speed racer – just what Sparky ordered!
Although at a first glance much of this game’s appeal is based around the diminutive wardrobe of our heroines, the Drive Girls themselves are more than just the shallow 2D shells they initially appear to be. Conversations flow nicely between our group of guardians, managing to create believable relationships and adding a certain amount of depth to each character. However the over-arching story is basic at best and could have done with either filling itself out with more comic moments or a deeper plot – or both.
Drive Girls feels a lot like Senran Kagura – except starring more PG13 Transformers and less schoolgirl ninjas . You fight off waves of enemies with your favourite Drive Girl staving off hordes of robotic bugs with a mixture of sword swinging, gun toting, hit and run style action – or maybe you let them hit you a couple of times to see their clothing disappear, I won’t judge. It’s certainly button mashy fun with enough challenge to keep it from getting old.
The combat system itself is reasonably simple, opting for a light attack / heavy attack approach, with different button combos creating crushing attack strings. Holding down light attack during a battle adds some awesome special attacks to the mix and you’re able to unleash a character specific super move after gaining enough energy from decimating your opponents. In a lot of ways it’s reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors but with a more engaging combat mechanic. It ends up creating a simple enough system that allows for the game to remain challenging without overwhelming the player.
Having blistered your way through a series of enemies, you’ll need to get to the next group fast – before they can cause any more devastation. Time to transform and roll out! Drive Girls‘ unique selling point is their ability to turn into cars, making travelling between fights pretty fun and managing to keep the tempo of the game at a high pace. It works really well and is a great way to initiate a fight. However this aspect of the game wasn’t always used to its full potential and though there are some nice racing segments, they’re nothing Racer X would write home about. Having to compete against one of the other Drive Girls on the same course four times was fun – I’d just like to be able to do this more often and on a variety of courses.
Keeping to a modern classic anime art style (nothing like a bit of cute, clean and colourful!), Drive Girls infuses its world with a mix of K-Pop and Electonica, adding to the vibrancy of the Japanese hero show aesthetic. Though nothing new, the theme is executed to a very high standard and works wonderfully within the game’s overall premise. In fact, the mechanics and visuals for the robot bugs are frankly pretty awesome. Combining elements of the natural world with an almost childlike fantasy style not only gave a nice variety to the enemies but was also visually interesting and engaging, meaning I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the game.
Drive Girls also features online multiplayer where up to four players can get together to take on never-ending waves of crazy robot bugs and includes a bevy of extra monsters not seen in the original campaign. Unfortunately, at the time of reviewing there’s no-one online to join me in this epic battle – but I’ll definitely be raring to go when this game releases on the 9th of June.
Drive Girls is a fantastically fun game that suits the portable platform beautifully. It is definitely a game you won’t regret investing some time into so ditch your L plates, don your most skimpy bikini and coat your sword in potent insecticide – it’s time to make Optimus proud.