Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been a fan of racing games, whether it be Pole Position or Super Offroad, they always help special appeal to me. Perhaps it was because I felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to or grown up, after all I wasn’t old enough to drive. Maybe it’s just because they are just so much fun?!
The newly released Retro Racing, comes with a bit of a pedigree, for it was developed by Mr Qwak’s Jamie Woodhouse, one of the developers behind the popular Amiga racing titles Nitro and ATR. Jamie has certainly put this previous work experience to great use, developing a really fun 8-bit style top down racing game that offers nostalgic, yet modern game play.
Players start by selecting one of 3 vehicles, each which have different stats for acceleration, speed and tires. Along the course are random pickups to help you to pad these stats and give you temporary nitro boosts. In each of the game’s 12 tracks you must work your way up from 8th place to finish in at least 3rd place (in 3 to 6 laps) to unlock the next track. While it will undoubtedly take you multiple attempts to do this, ultimately the game is fairly brief and you should be able to complete all tracks in an hour or two. The tracks get increasingly more complex and you’ll discover that certain vehicles respond better to certain tracks. The game is played in portrait mode with a simple yet responsive control set. Left and right arrow buttons for turning and a separate button for the gas. The graphics look crisp and there are some great sound effects of squealing tires. However the corner of the screen is missing the obligatory, top-down, Goodyear blimp-view of the entire track.
Unfortunately Retro Racing is mostly a solo affair and you’ll have to get your competitive kicks via Game Center leaderboards and achievements. I’d love to see an online multiplayer mode added or at least the ability to send a ghost racer to a friend for a challenge, kind of like what True Axis did with Jet Car Stunts. There is a local multiplayer mode which allows two players to play on the same iPad with the screen split into two horizontally orientated views. I’ve already submitted a request with the developer to have this optional view added for regular single-player game play as well, as I think it would just feel more comfortable over longer play periods.
In general I am not a person who buys IAPs, and I am especially not a fan of IAPs that give paying players a fairly substantial leg up over non-paying players. Sure a hat that is just for decoration or additional levels, those are fine because they are optional. However, when your willingness to pay has a direct and tangible effect on where you show up in the Game Center leaderboards, that’s where I have a bit of a problem. If you are willing to shell out an additional 99¢ Retro Racing offers a pack of 3 additional vehicles each of which contains elevated stats right from the get-go (no pickups required). I figured I owed it to you the readers to get this DLC and see just how much of a difference it makes. I quickly discovered that in the early levels…quite a bit! I immediately saw seconds shaved off my best times and made some nice traction up the leaderboards. In the later levels the effect was a little less noticeable due to the sheer volume of random pickups available and the fact that, better cars or not, you HAVE to collect more pickups if you want to finish in the top three.
Currently Retro Racing is on a launch sale for 99¢ (66% off) which is a great price for the amount of content you are getting. That being said, I think the regular price of $2.99 is just too high especially given that you’ll have to fork over another 99¢ to get the remainder of the cars. I hope that, should the price go up, we see a bunch of additional content like online multiplayer match ups, more tracks, etc to warrant the increase in price. A fun and challenging racer, I definitely recommend picking this one up while it’s on sale.