Recently we covered Formula Retro Racing, which was acted as an indie-made spiritual successor to the SEGA arcade title Virtua Racing.
Little did I know there was also another SEGA arcade racer spiritual successor releasing on the eshop at around the same time. This time, it’s Outrun’s turn – which is probably my favourite SEGA arcade title. Despite it being quite challenging for an amateur like myself, it’s a simple and chill experience. It’d be difficult to successfully replicate the same appeal as the original arcade experience.
But Ansdor Games have done it – by god, they’ve gone and done it.
Many thanks to BlitWorks for the review code.
OUTNUMBERED BUT NEVER OUTRUNNED
I don’t want to dwell on Outrun for too long, as it’d hardly be fair on Slipstream, so I’ll keep things brief. SEGA’s classic had you cruising the streets to some chillout 80s music with the timer as your only opponent. At the end of each area, you had to choose between two routes and repeat the same thing until you’ve either reached the end of the five tracks or run out of time. These multiple paths coupled with the race against time made the game feel quite unique compared to other arcade racers, and it was a lot of fun.
Slipstream has that same basic foundation at heart, but builds upon it a fair bit more.. There’s that similar visual style of 2D sprites forming a makeshift 3D, but the sprites are more reminiscent of something like Ion Fury instead of the original Outrun. It all looks rather gorgeous most of the time, even if there’s a lack of visual variety in the track design. Each stage does have its own theme, with many having references to SEGA classics, but it’s usually little more than scenery. It doesn’t make it less fun to play, but it would have been nice to have some more unique elements to each one.
RUNS LIKE A (SLIP)DREAM
Controls are very simple, thankfully, but there’s an element of complexity there too. In addition to your basic acceleration, turning requires the use of drifting, which is triggered by releasing the accelerator and tapping the B button during a turn. It’s relatively easy to do and there’s a tutorial to help you get it down, but you can always switch to automatic if you prefer and let the computer do it for you. The downside is that you’ll lose a little speed entering the drift if you have it on automatic, but it’s not something that will affect you too much on the easier difficulties.
The main mechanic that helps make the game stand out is the focus on slipstreaming, which works exactly as you would expect: driving directly behind a car will enter its slipstream and start charging the meter at the bottom right. As soon as the word ‘slipstream’ lights up, you’ll gain additional speed until you exit the stream or you hit something. It gives you a fair boost too, so you’ll want to get used to doing it pretty regularly if you want to do well.
The game has a multitude of modes on offer that help add a fair amount of life to the game. Grand Tour works similar to Outrun‘s main mode, but with a slight difference: each stage has a random rival to face up against, who will occasionally spout inconsequential dialogue at you. They’re ultimately there for show, as beating them is usually pretty simple and there’s no real reason to do so, but it does help add something different to the mix. Perhaps it would have helped if there were only one or two rivals during the tour so that you gain some kind of connection to each one – as it is, most of them end up being pretty forgettable.
Grand Prix, on the other hand, is split into three cups raced over five stages. This works like a traditional Grand Prix mode with a lineup of racers for you to beat in each course. Each stage has four laps and your aim is to win each one to earn the trophy. Whilst this mode isn’t quite as fun due to it not being much different from the GP in every other racer, it’s still different enough from Grand Tour that it feels like a worthy addition. I much preferred the Cannonball game mode that effectively combines the two, with a group of racers racing across multiple joint stages; you can even customise the number of stages, racers, and even whether rivals appear or not – it feels more like a fitting Grand Prix mode for this style of game. Considering all the modes on offer, it’s hardly a complaint as this allows the game to cater for all tastes.
The final major game mode is Battle Royale, which is an elimination style game mode. Unlike the weird elimination mode in Formula Retro Racing, this one works as you’d expect. After each stage, the final person gets eliminated. It’s good fun, even if it probably won’t be your main focus. There’s also the option for a single race and the obligatory time trials too, meaning that the game has plenty of game modes – not to mention the unlockable achievements you can earn too.
One final thing to mention is the level of accessibility the game has, making it an enjoyable experience for all skill levels. In addition to setting the drifting to automatic, you can alter the game speed, choose the difficulty, and tweak various other settings to suit your playstyle. These are all well and good, but the main thing it adds to help players is the handy five second rewind feature for when you screw up. At any time you can hold the Y button to rewind time and rectify your mistake. There’s a slight recharge, but it’s short enough for it to be frequently usable. It’s quite an unusual feature for a racing game, but a very nice inclusion that makes the game extremely accessible.
Slipstream is basically the new Outrun game that you never knew you wanted. With its 80s visuals and soundtrack and a myriad of game modes, there’s plenty here to keep all skill levels busy. The cheap price is the icing on the cake to what is already an excellent racing game.