Name: Retro Racing
Format: iOS/Android/Ouya (Tested)
Developer: Mr Qwak
Year of Release: 2013
Back in the day you didn't have these ultra-realistic graphics that made three-dimensional video games possible so you only had two-dimensional assets or eye gimmicks such as the Vetrex's vector graphics to work with. While the latter is never used today for obvious reasons. The former however will never cease to exist and has been continuously growing in popularity thanks to the indie developer scene exploding with aspiring developers in these past few years. Does Retro Racing zoom on pass its similar predecessors, or is it just a shell of what these games used to be in their respective genre? Read on as this is the Retro Racing Review.
Retro Racing much like similar games in the top-down racing genre is a game on a flat plain seen from a bird's-eye view. People who are familiar with the Micro Machines series amongst other titles in that era of gaming will automatically know what I'm talking about. The simplicity and acceptability with these types of games is near that of a two-dimensional platformer in the sense that all the information the player needs to know is automatically given to them which makes adapting to this genre of gaming quite easy despite its uncommon appearance in this age of gaming. With that said there's no tutorial required for Retro Racing as only two means of control are used which is the accelerate and movement controls which are laid out in their usual places on any controller. This makes Retro Racing a prime game for younger audiences or players who don't want to read a button mapping screen for five minutes just to comprehend what each of the actions do.
Once you get into the game itself you'll find just how crisp the visuals look on a 1080p television screen. The game doesn't have anything fancy in the special effects department but the color palette along with the overall simplistic aesthetics makes even the menus in Retro Racing make your screen pop with color. This is certainly a feast for the eyes and while the pixel aesthetics may be worn on the nerves of numerous gamers out there due to the high amount of games with these visual. I however think this is an exception to the rule and those who only can complain about this game in this department are gamers who would prefer to play a technologically superior game in the first place.
The contents within Retro Racing is pretty vast when you pair it up to other retro titles in the OUYA console's library. There are eighteen tracks in the game with you only being able to progress if you get at least third place in the respective track. You can tell if you've succeeded if you have at least one star assigned to a track in the track selection menu with you gaining three if you win first place, two if you win second place, and one if you win third place. There are six vehicles to choose from with three being completely useless as they only serve to make the demo Retro Racing has that much more limited since the latter half of the selection have all-around superior stats. This makes for a limited choice and is just fluff for the game to advertise which is completely unnecessary considering how easy it would have been just to make more cars selectable given how easy it looks to do so.
The tracks in Retro Racing themselves are quite slick in design which only become that much more grand thanks to the smooth controls the game has. You'll be swerving through tight corners while trying to gain four pick-ups scattered throughout each track. These are speed which raise your top speed, acceleration which raise your acceleration, tires which improves you handling, and nitro which gives you a limited burst of speed. Collecting these is essential for later levels which can be a task since clusters of them are sometimes located in places on a more complicated track that detours you from the main track. This makes perfectly the art of picking up these pick-ups and playing catch up mandatory in order to win first place since the computer is also able to pick up these stat boosting pick-ups.
This brings me to one of the problems with Retro Racing and that's the difficultly. The difficulty in the game starts out as casual but before you know it you're thrust into the art of perfecting everything at once or facing a miserable place after you cross the finish line. The learning curve is easy to pick up but the difficulty spike mitigates most of what you'd usually come to expect with any game which is a smooth, ever-increasing difficulty. This all and all makes the latter half of the game not something for people wanting to just pick up in play since practice in the form of trial and error for this game is the only thing that will enable you to finish it. With that said there are other issues such as things in the music department
The music in Retro Racing is very bland with only a very limited selection to hear from which gets old very quickly. Sooner or later you'll do what most people did with Road Rash and just mute the television since it will grate on your nerves to the point where it hinders your skill with the game. That aside there's not much else to speak of other than the two-player mode which is without a doubt the best aspect of Retro Racing. All the tracks are selectable for split-screen racing with a friend and anything that was bothering you before gets forfeited when the unrivaled competitiveness that comes with playing with a friend in Retro Racing since the only thing you're focused on is winning.
This effectively makes Retro Racing a title to come back to since the lastability is greatly lengthened in the form of replayability with a buddy. However, from a single-player perspective there's not much to do after you've completed all eighteen tracks which makes the five dollar price tag for the game seem a bit hard to swallow. This coupled with the fact that there isn't any content expanding updates in sight in the form of tracks, vehicles, modes, and music means that this will get buried in the library of someone who doesn't have anyone locally to play with.
Overall 7 out of 10
Verdict:- Retro Racing is a nice title for the OUYA library for sure. It's got more content than what you'd usually find in the retro section of Discover but there's no replayability to be had here unless you're one of the few who has a second OUYA controller much less someone who is even interested in playing with you to begin with.
The visuals are crisp, vibrant, and very appealing overall with nothing screaming lazy which is what you'd usually find the two-dimensional department from indie developers in the video game industry. The controls are buttery smooth which only get smoother as you collect pick-ups throughout the tracks within the game. This effectively makes Retro Racing easy to pick up and get accustomed to.
The music is really uninspired and limited with the latter issue not being exclusive to music since the number of selectable vehicles which are half useless thanks to the unbalanced roster. The difficulty spike in the game is something to be feared and players who left the game only to come back would need to do rigorous training from earlier tracks just to even stand a chance at the later levels. This coupled with the fact that pick-ups are mandatory whilst also being out of the way forces you to be perfect in your racing skills which is too much to ask for with a game that started out perfectly fine for beginner level gamers.
The two-player mode is definitely the the thing that shines through everything else since there's so much to enjoy with a friend opposed to just playing by yourself. People who only have themselves and no player two to play with should approach this one with caution, but those who do should check this out as soon as possible since it's easily one of my most recommended titles for local multiplayer.
Second Opinion:- Transbot ultimately co-signs the sentiment from our fine guest reviewer here.
Retro Racing is a fun throwback to a sassier time, but is let down in the sound department by the uninspired music. Tune that out and tune into the gameplay and this one is sure to go down a treat to those who believe there is no school like the old school.
Personally I believe there is no school like the School of Transbot.
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Transbot Scores:- 6 out of 10