It's not perfect the perfect portable racer, but it's a start.
Even the most seasoned fans of racing games might not have heard of Gear.Club Unlimited, the first Nintendo Switch entry in the mobile series Gear.Club. As a racer, it's got solid enough arcade and authentic roots. As a full-fledged simulator, it has its issues.
In the time I've spent with the game, two main things have become clear: 1.) Racing games on the Switch are incredible, and this is only the beginning. 2.) This isn't the be-all, end-all of racing simulators for the console.
Gear.Club Unlimited focuses on two main modes, Campaign and Local Multiplayer. The game's Campaign mode is a series of booked quests that have you racing in a handful of locales while surveying and customizing some of the fastest and most luxurious cars in the world.
These systems contain echoes of other racing simulators, from gameplay and a "car view" mode similar to the Forza Motorsports franchise, to an attempt at spiritual succession from the Test Drive Unlimited series. That latter makes perfect sense, of course, as the same developers who worked on Test Drive and V-Rally made Gear.Club and its Nintendo Switch follow-up.
For the most part, the game runs great both docked and in portable mode. It's not the biggest feast for your eyes on the big screen, but it proves its worth on the small screen, making portable racing -- especially with friends, easier than it's ever been.
While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might have your arcade racing hunger taken care of, Gear.Club Unlimited could be the perfect game for those itching for a simulator -- as franchises like Ridge Racer and Project CARS are nowhere in sight, for now.
Gear.Club Unlimited is now available for the Nintendo Switch. A review copy was provided by the publisher.