Slide Stars may look like a kid-friendly casual racer, but it’s much more sophisticated than it appears. It’s trickier, too.

But fear not. This guide will give you the lowdown on Slide Stars’s challenging arcade gameplay, and fill you in on all the tricks you need to know to survive its deadly water-based stages.

Overview and General Tips

The game sees you completing a series of courses using a cast of YouTubers sitting on a range of different “rides”, including a bottle of hot sauce, a giant strawberry, and an inflatable banana. 

The aim in each level is simply to reach the end. This is straightforward enough in the first couple of stages, but it becomes more challenging as you work your way through the campaign. 

That’s because stages become more and more devious in their construction, with branching paths, dangerous jumps, and so on. It’s also because more and more obstacles are introduced over time. 

These include hungry crocodiles, pesky birds that swoop down and knock you off your ride, sticks of dynamite that blow you up, and giant boulders that squash you flat. But they also include creatures that can either help or hinder you.

For instance, at one stage you’ll encounter a giant cephalopod whose whipping tentacles will kill you if they make direct contact, but give you a boost if they hit the water just behind you.   

The other reason it can be difficult to complete a course in Slide Stars is that, well, you’re trying to do it on an inflatable ride. Each of these handles slightly differently, but it can be tough to stay upright on all of them when you’re careening off ramps and balancing on wobbly platforms. 

A single errant contact with an obstacle will see you ragdolling around in the water or pinwheeling through the air, your turn over. Fortunately, there are checkpoints littered throughout each stage to ease your frustration. 

You control your ride with the left stick and hunch down to speed up in preparation for a jump with A. 

At least, that’s how you do it in the default control setup. Alternatively, you can choose to separate movement and control across the two sticks, or use the left stick to move and the two shoulder buttons for control. 

Our general advice in Slide Stars is to stay calm and go for accuracy over speed, particularly when there are still things to collect in a stage.

Also, take care to use the occasional boost pads you find lying around to reach otherwise inaccessible surfaces and star fragments, and don’t be afraid to go against the flow of the stage to explore. Star fragments and coins are often hidden upstream or in areas you don’t technically need to visit.

Unlockables

First up, each level comes with a possible three badges: one for completing the stage, one for doing it within a set time, and one for doing it without wiping out. 

As you work your way through Slide Stars you unlock stuff in a number of different ways. 

These badges let you unlock YouTubers and rides, and this process works cumulatively. That is, when you get 28 badges, Alex Stokes joins your crew automatically, and you hold onto your 28 badges. The moment you collect 29, you get a watermelon to ride on, whether you want one or not. 

So badges aren’t a currency per se, but rather an indicator of progress, like stars in a matching puzzler with a campaign. 

During runs you’ll collect coins and star fragments. Coins come either individually or in bundles whenever you pick up an item of fruit, and you can spend them on cosmetic changes to your rides and new outfits for your YouTubers. 

Each YouTuber has two additional outfits beyond whatever they’re wearing when you acquire them. One of these costs coins, while the other costs stars. To get a star, you need to pick up all five star fragments in a given stage. In most cases they’re relatively difficult to obtain. 

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Each of your YouTubers has three affinities. These include travel, fitness, music, gaming, and so on. And each stage has three statues with big glowing affinity symbols on them. 

Whenever a YouTuber with an affinity matching the one on the statue rides past it, they unlock a secret, such as an extra ramp, more coins, or a boosting gush of water. Often it’s not possible to get all of the star fragments or coins in a level without exploiting your affinities, so it’s vital that you send the right YouTubers into the right courses.

Finally, you can earn “likes” by pulling off stunts during a run. That basically means doing backwards or forwards rolls in the air. 

The other thing that finishing a stage unlocks, of course, is the next stage. Slide Stars currently consists of two worlds: the balmy, Aztec-inspired Forgotten Jungle, and the murky American Swamp. The dangers and difficulties get more intense as you progress. 

There’s also a two player local multiplayer mode, with two friends competing on the same screen. The camera pulls back whenever the distance between the racers increases, but if one of you gets too far ahead or behind you disappear off the edge and reappear in a bubble over the course. 

And that pretty much covers Slide Stars. This guide will help you understand the game’s various systems, but only a lot of a practice will help you conquer all those stages and unlock all those rides. 

So hop to it! Check out Slide Stars on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One right now to use these tips for yourself. Check out the game’s official site here, and publisher GS2 Games’s site here.