One of the many reasons why I love anime/manga is the crazy weird and inventive ideas some people have. Every now and then there is a series that is really out there. Like there was one where a kid turns into a costumed mascot that kills other people that can transform for coins that can be exchanged for wishes or another with a guy who dies, fuses with his dog and gains the ability to summon chainsaws from his body, dates a bomb and needs to defeat the personification of gun violence. Kandagawa Jet Girls isn’t quite that crazy, though I don’t think there are many people who would come up with a series centered around jet ski racing and water gun fights, yet, here we are. Unlike a lot of concepts, this also lends itself to a game fairly well but will it be enough to make waves or will it end in a splash of defeat?
As mentioned above, Kandagawa Jet Girls tells the story of two girls, who battle other girls, at this jet racing sport. Unsurprisingly, it follows the same path of other silly and outlandish concept series by having a bunch of zany and silly characters that fall for certain tropes or rely on certain gags to justify their existence. For most series that would be enough, but a big part of the adventure is really the journey. Not to see if Rin and Misa can be the best, but rather, how their relationship blossoms based on their adventures at this unusual sport. This heart gives the story just enough to make it interesting, assuming you’re into the gameplay.
The easiest way to understand Kandagawa Jet Girls is to compare it to another relatively well-known game, Mario Kart. At its core, it’s a racing game that has combative elements and can be relatively cutthroat. Unfortunately, the tutorial does a poor job of explaining that side of things, instead of making sure you know how to do cute tricks or pick up items, resulting in it being more about dedication.
Where the two games differ the most is the learning curve. Aiming takes a fair bit of practice, especially if you’re shooting from behind, making it less accessible. It also seems to lack the same rubberbanding that Mario Kart is notorious for. If you’ve never heard of that concept, it comes down to the max distance the game will allow. Typically this is achieved by the game dishing out specific items that allow other players to bridge the gap. In my time playing, it didn’t seem like there was much of an issue with me having a commanding lead, outside of it moving from a combative game to a simple jet racing sim.
In some ways, the included AI doesn’t help the experience. It takes a while for them to offer you a challenge and in some cases, you almost have to try to actually bother with the mechanics. There is no point in worrying about items or shooting other players if you have half a lap lead and everyone else is fighting to just be the first loser. Thankfully, online offers a higher skill cap if you want to chase after it.
Depending on your actual skill and desire to learn, Kandagawa Jet Girls can be super fun or extremely frustrating. Your ability to properly deal with threats will determine your success and some people will make it extremely difficult to catch up. On the plus side, this is where you need to make the most of boosting, tricks, drifting and items to bridge that gap in skill. At first, it will be rather rough, some of the tricks don’t quite register right and controls are a bit floaty, something that is forgivable given you’re literally floating on water, but it makes things harder to master. Those willing will get an interesting experience and even if you rather mess with the campaign, there are a surprisingly high number of missions to overcome.
Beyond having a robust campaign and optional modes, you have a lot of control overlook. Most elements can be mixed and matched and fully controlled. Love a certain girl’s hair and want her on another girl’s body but with blue and gold highlights, you can do that. Want her covered with butterflies and silly accessories, well, you can do that too. There are so many options those willing to put in the time will have a fair bit to unlock and control, making it a bit more personal.
Kandagawa Jet Girls Review – Verdict
This is a rather unusual experience, which in some ways makes it pretty interesting. The core concept is actually fun, provided you find the right amount of challenge, with enough details to make it interesting. Different teams and people have their own stats, you can control looks, and obviously tracks offer different challenges. It’s enough to find it enjoyable, provided you have reasonable expectations. It might not be Mario Kart, even if it is similar, but it does a good job of presenting a fun idea and giving players things to mess with.
[Editor’s Note: Kandagawa Jet Girls was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]