Disney Speedstorm is a fun racer caught in a free-to-play gridlock

Launching into early access this week, the latest racer from Disney and Gameloft scratches a lot of itches, but also leaves a big free-to-play rash.


When it comes to making a family racing game, having the roster is practically half the battle. Few have the pantheon of characters that can compete with Nintendo and Mario, but Disney is certainly up to the challenge. Mickey and friends are taking part in a new racing game called Disney Speedstorm and it certainly has the chops to stand among the best racers, even if it has a few unsavory elements that bog it down slightly.

Jack Sparrow racing across Disney Speedstorm

Source: Gameloft

The first thing to note is that developer Gameloft appears to have learned from the best. The track design feels like the best of games like Mario Kart 8, Crash Team Racing, and Team Sonic Racing. Tracks are wide open enough that they feel good to explore while also leaving enough room for hunting potential shortcuts.

These tracks are also suited to the Mario Kart formula of battling with various power-ups. Each driver has their own distinct set of items that they can pick up and use against other competitors. This leads to intense neck-and-neck battles for the finish line, especially since there's a boost meter that manually fills up over the course of every lap. The best thing to say about Disney Speedstorm is that drivers are battling against each other and not their own cars, because they all handle beautifully.

There's a lot to love about Disney Speedstorm as a competitive racing game and one that families and friends can play against one another. The game's main issues, unfortunately, stem from some inherent free-to-play pitfalls. Gameloft has implemented multiple forms of currency and it can be confusing to determine which ones buy what.

More than that, there's a leveling system in which players can upgrade their driver and vehicle stats. Players had better have a favorite driver in mind, because everyone has to be leveled up individually. Investing everything into a single racer means taking a big step back when deciding to play as a different character. That's before mentioning that not everyone is unlocked out of the box. Players need to complete certain parameters to unlock characters from different series like Hercules, Mulan, and others.

First revealed during last year's Epic Games Store Summer Showcase, Disney Speedstorm on its own is certainly a lot of fun. Step into the game blind and it's a perfectly capable racing game and one that can eventually develop into one of the best on the market. One of the biggest challenges is eventually hitting that free-to-play wall. Parenthetically, I'll add that this could be so much better as a premium game that features vehicles with flat stats. With that said, Disney Speedstorm is what it is and, honestly, it's pretty good. It should be interesting to see how it develops from here.

This preview is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Disney Speedstorm is available via Steam Early Access and through early access bundles on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. However, it will be free-to-play upon exiting the early access period.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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