Retro Racing Review
- Smooth, clean visuals and easy to follow track designs.
- Vehicle power-ups give just the right mix of luck and skill to out-maneuvering the AI.
- Responsive vehicle physics; always feel in control even when out of control.
- Extremely short lived with no lasting rewards for those who aren't high-score junkies.
- Better vehicles can be purchased, but not earned.
- AI 'clumping' and bumping feels like a cheap barrier to progression.
Retro Racing says it all - those who have played top-down racers in just about any form will slip right on to this title with ease and find themselves enjoying the nostalgic, yet distinctly modern feel of the game; it's just a shame it's all over too soon and without even a thank you for having completed it.
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It's not often that a game's title says just about everything you could hope to want to convey about a game before even loading it up. Aside from the basic top-down racing gameplay that should be familiar to just about every gamer, Amiga owners might recognize the influences from Nitro by Psygnosis - this is no mistake as the developer behind that title, Jamie Woodhouse, is also the grand designer for Retro Racing.
Players are given nothing more than the ability to veer left and right and an acceleration button. After choosing between one of three basic vehicles (each with their own base statistics for speed, acceleration and tires), you're thrown on to a track and must fight for pole position.
To add a spin on this extremely basic formula, players can pick up randomly spawned (but not randomly placed) items that augment the three basic stats of your car. A 'nitro' can also spawn, giving you a boost when you need it most (or occasionally when you least expect it). This introduces more complexity than you'd first expect as your vehicle's handling, drifting and response times change dramatically with each lap, making it difficult to consistently stay on track - mastery of a track often feels like it requires a Zen approach of being in perfect harmony with your car.
Countering this is the somewhat aggressive AI that can be frustrating to a fault. On each of the twelve currently available tracks, the vehicles will veer and knock your car, preventing you from making a pass. While this is somewhat realistic, it can be tiring to find yourself facing a third place position once again because you couldn't make it out of the suicidal pack of drivers.
Even if you insist on grabbing first place wins it won't take long to finish Retro Racing. This makes the lack of any reward, either in the form of unlocked vehicles, harder modes or even an achievement disappointing. Three cars can be purchased if you want a leg-up, but they're not required to clock the game unless you're a high-score junkie - in which case they're practically mandatory.
Retro Racing is gorgeously smooth and luscious looking game with simple and addictive gameplay that's fun while it lasts. It's clear the real emphasis is on beating other players around the world, thanks to a clever and clear leaderboard system and for those who have a fierce competitive streak, this is the game for you.