The Elite Institute’s ‘impressions’ series are not full reviews of titles. As we pride ourselves on providing in-depth reviews for games that we have beaten or completed, our ‘impressions’ instead focus on providing you with details on the game along with our general thoughts on the title, to help shape your opinion. This means that there will be no score, but we can hopefully give you an idea of the quality.

The reasons for doing an ‘impressions’ rather than a full review vary: perhaps it’s a genre that we don’t feel comfortable reviewing due to gaming tastes, maybe it’s too hard or too bad that we are unable to make it through, or maybe even it’s a game that just doesn’t really have an end goal.

Many thanks to Repixel8 for the game code.


I have a confession to make: I suck at racing games. I’m alright at some games, particularly arcade racers, but anything more traditional and I just end up smacking into the walls constantly.

Formula Retro Racing is an arcadelike racer but also a bit of a Formula 1 racer too – and I’m not very good at it, even on beginner. As such, I feel like it would be inappropriate for me to score the game. but I can still give you my impressions.

The hit SEGA classic never really got a sequel, despite its relative popularity. It’s a shame too, since even though the game had a simplistic art style, it was also strangely compelling; and the tracks, whilst only having a small handful, were all rather good. It laid the foundations for what could have been a great series of racers, but it was not to be.

In steps Formula Retro Racing to fill in that role. Make no qualms about it, this game isn’t just inspired by SEGA’s classic racer – it’s very much intended to be a spiritual successor. The problem with spiritual successors is that they need to work extra hard to make sure that they are good enough to confidently stand alongside the original title. I believe Formula Retro Racing manages to just about achieve that goal.

There are three main game modes, with Arcade and Grand Prix being relatively similar. The former typically has 4 or 5 laps, and you have a time limit in which to hit each checkpoint. Grand Prix is similar, but there’s no time limit and you can choose the number of laps you want to race. Both of them award you with points based on the difficulty you choose and the position you reach, with these points being used to unlock the later tracks. The final mode, Elimination, is a bit of a misnomer as it feels more like an endurance test rather than having cars get eliminated over time. You get a point for every lap you do, but you need to stay in the upper half. Your opponents get faster with each lap, which ups the difficulty, but the problem is that the simple tracks are so easy that you’ll probably get bored long before you get eliminated. Arcade mode is my pick of the bunch, but bear in mind that you can only play multiplayer in the Grand Prix, for whatever reason.

There are eight courses in total, with a few of them being unlocked with points – as mentioned earlier. The track design is pretty decent too on the whole with a nice variety of locations too – Monte Carlo is here, as are deserts, forests, and the like. It feels like a big step up from the low number in Virtua Racing, and there are even some tracks that pay homage to the arcade classic. Music is also present in Formula Retro Racing, but the chirpy chiptune music doesn’t quite fit the genre well. It’s catchy enough and certainly isn’t bad, it just doesn’t feel quite appropriate.

As for the controls, they’re not quite the same as in Virtua Racing, but they still retain the same level of simplicity. You are given the option between manual and automatic, but all you need to really worry about is speeding up and slowing down. There’s a slipstream mechanic to help speed you up, as well as a damage meter that can cause you to explode if you’re not careful, but little more than that. It all works rather well, although I did find that turning is a tad stiffer than in Virtua Racing. Not enough to make it an issue, just a notable difference.

All in all, it’s a fun game with a decent amount of content for the cheap asking price. Whilst I’m no racing connoisseur, I can definitely say this will be a game I’ll return to in the future.

Check out the footage below for some gameplay that will hopefully give you an idea of what to expect: