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Kandagawa Jet Girls

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Racing
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Honey∞Parade Games
Release Date: Aug. 25, 2020

About Joseph Doyle

Joe has been known to have two hands with which to both play games and write reviews. When his hands are not doing those, he will put books, musical instruments, and other fun things in them.


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PS4 Review - 'Kandagawa Jet Girls'

by Joseph Doyle on Nov. 27, 2020 @ 9:00 a.m. PST

Kandagawa Jet Girls is an adrenaline-fueled jet racing game that blends tight cornering and aerial stunts with rapid-fire shootouts.

There's nothing like the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, and the ocean spray in your face. That's what I'd say if I had jet skied before. I haven't, but I have run around using a pink plastic battery-powered misting fan in the summer, so I feel like I have a good idea of what it's like. When it comes to video games, there have been plenty of incredibly entertaining jet skiing games in earlier generations, namely Splashdown and Jet Moto, and even some levels in titles like Crash Bandicoot: Warped and Grand Theft Auto V. Recently, there haven't been many prominent games focused on the sport. Honey Parade opted to change this by giving the game a cutesy anime layer on the top. While the design and implementation of gameplay elements and artistic themes in Kandagawa Jet Girls are incredibly well done, minor details and errors stand out to create a strange overall experience.

Kandagawa Jet Girls offers a distinct and comprehensive racing experience. You begin the game as Rin and Misa, two high schoolers divided by temperament (ebullient and reserved, respectively) but bound by their love of — you guessed it — jet skiing. In this title, Rin and Misa must compete in jet ski races against fellow high school teams. The game controls pretty well and features intricate options for steering, drifting, and boosting. One of the racing aspects that's a nice touch has to do with the tilt of the vehicle; if you tilt the analog stick forward while accelerating, you'll increase your speed but lose traction while turning, and vice versa when you tilt the stick backward. This feels like a nice bit of polish the developers added to an already very functional game.

But wait — that's not all!

There are two girls on the jet ski, so what's the other person doing while the first is driving? She's shooting water guns. While controlling your jet ski, you also have the opportunity to blast through your opponents' shields and disrupt their momentum. You can go as far as picking up a selection of specialized guns and manually aiming them behind your jet ski to blast through fellow contestants who are already eating your waves. This gives Kandagawa Jet Girls a nice, challenging balance, since the racing is more involved than a standard racing title and the addition of offense gives the game an edge.

Given what you can do, the controls work commendably. Manually aiming can sometimes be a little wonky, but the fluidity of focusing on your movement and shots is pretty effortless on the behalf of the player, making the game experience much more user-friendly. The gameplay can feel repetitive at times, but it's also fun and engaging. Rolled up with this main game mode is a series of well-made minigames that award currency so you can buy jet ski upgrades in addition to accessories and outfits for your character (more on that later). The charming yet simple narrative and the incredibly lovable but archetypal characters create a palatable experience that is fun and casual, even when you take into account all of the bells and whistles of a ranking system, different race modes, and more.

Aesthetically, Kandagawa Jet Girls provides a streamlined but compromised experience. The bubbly tone is on display beginning from the vibrant main menu, which is filled with floating, bulbous icons that bounce as you move from one selection to the next. The menu works in conjunction with the game mechanics and overwhelming optimism. Likewise, the visuals during the gameplay sections utilize colors to match the vibrance of the characters and story, from your neon green squirt guns to the bright rainbow hoops that you speed through to gain boost/special weapons.

The overlays during the gameplay also follow this aesthetic but embrace the secondary technological/futuristic theme. For example, the speedometer uses the digits like those of an analog clock, the jet skis are shiny and slick, the loading screens utilize bright whites and ticking circles, and more. It all comes together like an Apple UI designer was inspired by the Monkey Ball franchise, and it works almost alarmingly well. A menu like this on a phone would look amazing!

However, what's incredibly distracting are the character models and design. As noted earlier, all of the characters are high-school age girls who are members of jet ski clubs. The main characters are well endowed, and while this isn't inherently a negative, the way the game visually frames the characters, has them move, and offers so many alternate costumes gives the player the feeling that perhaps you're not playing this game for the fun jet skiing segments. To make a game where you're supposed to be ogling 16- and 17-year-olds is eyebrow-raising to start with, but the fully rendered 3D cut scenes that have your characters bouncing around with individual boob physics puts the final nail in the coffin for this reviewer. Known as ecchi in the anime world, it never shows abject nudity or pornographic images, but is made to excite, and it feels pretty gross given their age. It's a shame that Honey Parade Games (and the creators of the original anime) opted to make this a sexualized experience. Without it, this game stands quite well on its own, but sadly, this detracts from the entire experience.

Kandagawa Jet Girls embraces a particularly peppy and upbeat soundtrack. Oozing enthusiasm throughout, the soundtrack is fully orchestrated at points, utilizing bright brass to invigorate the player, with high-octane thudding drums and power chord-chugging guitars pulsing in the background to fill out the piece. Very much an anime theme, it does what it should by preparing the player for the type of twee while energizing the game that they'll be playing. The move from cutesy, casual pieces during dialogue sequences to more thumping, electronic tracks during races again stick to the main aesthetic that the developers curated with the gameplay and visuals. The music is well crafted and doesn't feel too artificial, which plagues many other anime-based video games, making this a plus for the game.

Much of Kandagawa Jet Girls is done incredibly well. The gameplay is varied and interesting, allowing the player to explore how to best approach races and competition, while also offering fun and upbeat music and visuals along the way. It's all strung together by a well-defined aesthetic, from the menus to the loading screens and the UI. What cannot be forgotten — and what takes away the most from this game — is the obsession with these teen girls' bodies in the design. It's cheap and gross, and it completely detracts from the experience. While the races sometimes become bland with ease, the most glaring point that I took away from the experience is how girls' bodies are depicted and designed in media. When it comes down to it, you can make a game that knocks it out of the park in every way, but if you can't show your teen characters without highlighting their massive cleavage or design them without massive breasts in the first place, then frankly, it's not a respectable product that should be taken seriously, and therefore it isn't good.

Score: 6.0/10

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