There seems to be an abundance of retro-style arcade racers hitting consoles these days, with titles like Race Arcade and Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers just two that’ve dropped over the last few months. Not that I’m complaining – I was a massive fan of these kinds of games in my younger years, so I’m all for a big nostalgic comeback for this style of racer.
With its retro-look and arcade-style racing, Super Pixel Racers follows the example set by those aforementioned titles perfectly. There’s no silly gimmick in play; just good old-fashioned racing with an impressively pixely visual style.
The racing itself is simple in design, with the player able to use one of two control schemes: there’s the ‘pointing mode’ where your car moves in the direction that you point the analogue stick, and the ‘classic mode’ where you use left and right to change the direction of your car and accelerate manually with a button press. Both control schemes work well and it’ll be down to the player to see what they prefer the most. I personally stuck with the ‘pointing mode’ for the most part (the game actually says it’s easier), but a few of my friends who I played with found that the ‘classic mode’ worked better. It’s different strokes for different folks I guess, but at least the option to change it is there.
When in a race you’ll be bashing your way through tight tracks as you look to gain the upper hand over your opponents. The best way to do this is to use your nitro, which gives you a hell of a speed boost that’s most effective when taking some of the longer straights. However, the tracks are full of twists and turns, so you’ll have to master drifting if you really want to succeed at the game. It’s a simple mechanic and one that won’t take long to figure out, but it can really make the difference between finishing first or not even making it to the podium – drifting also fills up your nitro meter too, so you’ll want to do it as often as you can. Between trying to find gaps to overtake your foes, speeding away with nitro, and slipping and sliding across corners whilst drifting, there’s a whole lot to Super Pixel Racers to ensure each race you take part in is a heck of a lot of fun.
The game’s single player mode sees you progress through multiple race classes, all whilst unlocking new cars and earning upgrades for them. It ensures that Super Pixel Racers’ races are constantly changing up, with the higher classes featuring cars that are a lot faster than those in the earlier races. In fact, returning to the ‘C Class’ vehicles actually feels sluggish later on, so it just goes to show how much more exciting the later races of the game can be. There are different medals to be earned in each event too, with the game having one of those addictive ‘one more race’ vibes to it where you’ll find yourself hooked in trying to get all of the gold medals.
One of my favourite things about Super Pixel Racers though is the sheer amount of game modes on offer. You’ve got ‘Rally Cross’ that sees you facing off against seven other racers in a standard event, ‘Rally’ that challenges you to get the best time on a procedurally generated track, ‘Land Rush’ where the person leading the event when the timer runs out is deemed the victor, ‘Takedown’ where the focus is on smashing up your enemies by hitting them when using nitro, ‘Hunt’ where you have to chase down a specific target (one of my favourite modes), and ‘Drift Show’ where you earn points by pulling off as many slick drifts as possible. The game could’ve easily just been a traditional racer and not offered anything else, but instead it has enough game modes to even rival a triple-A racing game. There’s just so much for the player to do, and that diversity ensures you’ll never get bored when racing through the game’s meaty single player mode.
Best of all, these game modes can all be played in multiplayer, with both local and online modes available. I haven’t had a chance to try out online yet (it’s been a struggle to find anyone online so far), but the local multiplayer is a blast. The only problem I really had was that the camera could be zoomed in a bit too much for split-screen action, though by the end you either get used to it or appreciate the fact that it adds to the chaos of each race.
Super Pixel Racers offers old-school racing that’s both exciting and fun, with the plethora of varied game modes ensuring you’ll have a good time whether you’re playing alone or with a group of friends. I was genuinely surprised at just how fun the game is, with the simple mechanics, the retro presentation, and the abundance of content coming together nicely to make for a must-own arcade racer.
Developer: 21c Ducks
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One