What do you get when you combine puzzle games with racing games? Extreme frustration and sorrow. GripShift is a rather clever game that sadly misses the mark just slightly, which puts it squarely in the realm of the mediocre.
Well, the idea behind GripShift is uh... you're a cartoony Gen-X'er that drives a crazy looking vehicle on hovering roads in space. Of course, we're talking about driving crazy cars while trying to beat a time limit on outrageous tracks, so the whole thing doesn't sound so outlandish when put into perspective. You hell it around these tracks gathering stars and completing little puzzles.
GripShift is a driving puzzle game that has a serious sense of speed. In fact, it may have a little too much speed. One thing you'll notice early on, no matter if you have a car made of super glue, you WILL fly off the track over and over again. For a game about driving, it sure is hard to control your car. I'm not just saying it's a little difficult, oh no, I'm saying it's bordering on testing the extent of your sanity. To give a good example of the handling in GripShift: imagine you're skating, but instead of skates you're coated in motor oil and you're trying frantically to stop and it's just not working. That's what it's like to drive in this game.
Other than the really bad handling, it's actually pretty interesting. Some of the puzzles are quite interesting, and would actually be more fun if you could actually control your vehicle. There's nothing more frustrating than being stopped from doing something that looks fun and challenging by really poor control implementation. It's even more of a shame when you realize exactly how much content this game has to offer. It's pretty astounding.
Other than challenge mode you can race, which, good luck. Imagine the scenario mentioned above but while people are firing weapons at you. Of course, you can play via an ad-hoc network if you want to share the sluggish torment with friends and family. Another nice feature is the track designer, which is actually pretty powerful and, if you have any friends left after making them play multiplayer, then you can share your created tracks with them.
Overall the graphics in GripShift are actually pretty nice. They won't really blow you away, but they're nice and smooth. The sound is passable if you like to hear yourself fail over and over again and listen to some catchy hip-hop at the same time. Otherwise you won't really notice the sound design at all.
In the end, GripShift is one of those opportunities that sadly didn't pay off. So much work was put into this title that it's a shame to see it killed by unresponsive controls. If you're a puzzle fan or just enjoy failing, then give it a shot, otherwise stay away.