This is going to be a slightly difficult review to write. Not only because I’m not very good at most racing games, but because Formula Retro Racing: World Tour is a bit of a weird game. Whilst billed as a follow-up title, it’s actually quite similar to the previously reviewed Formula Retro Racing – in fact, I’d even class this as more of a director’s cut than a true sequel. Heck, even the game’s icon on the home screen is near identical to the previous entry.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something worth bearing in mind.
Many thanks to CGA Studio for the review code.
LOW POLY LOVE
Much like the previous title, World Tour is very much a love letter to Virtua Racing – SEGA’s classic racer. With its simple controls and even simpler visuals, it focuses primarily on providing a racing experience at 60FPS without worrying about all the little details.
DRIVING AROUND THE TRACK ONCE MORE
Booting up the game, you’ll be greeted with the same four game modes that the original title had to offer: Arcade, Grand Prix, Elimination, and Free Play. Arcade mode and Grand Prix are quite similar, with the former having you race against time each lap whilst trying to get the highest position. GP drops the time limit, leaving you to focus on your position instead for the amount of laps you prefer. Dropping to two laps makes things go by quicker, but also makes it harder to reach the top position. Your position and difficulty setting will affect the number of points you earn, and these are used to unlock further tracks to play on. It’s a weird system as you can’t actually finish the GP on beginner since it’s not possible to earn that many points. Heck, you have to get first position on most almost all of the tracks on the medium difficulty just to unlock the final course.
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.
Compared to the original, this game doubles the number of tracks available and does a relatively solid job at making them all fun to play. Some can be a tad too long, and there are certain designs that look a bit too similar to others, but the variety makes those ones easy to overlook. The game features some notable locations, and seeing famous landmarks in this game’s low poly style is certainly pretty charming too. It’s a shame that the tracks don’t feature their own unique music track though, as the game just randomly cycles through the few available songs. They’re not necessarily bad, but the limited choice makes you get sick of them rather quickly.
Unfortunately one of my biggest issues with the previous entry was with the controls. There’s a choice between manual and automatic, with the latter being my own personal choice, and then a damage meter to take care of as you drift around the tracks. Bumping into things will cause your car to build up damage, and could cause you to explode if you’re being a little too careless. The flip side is that you can also take out other opponents, which is a nice touch. The problem lies with the turning feeling pretty stiff and awkward to get used to; when compared with Virtua Racing’s tight controls, it’s quite difficult to get used to. They’re not bad, but I did find that they detracted from the overall fun. You do get a variety of vehicles to choose from this time, which is a nice bonus, but none of them seem to alleviate this overall issue.
Aside from these niggling control issues, the game also isn’t particularly stable either. Whilst the framerate is thankfully fine and never seems to drop, there are other technical issues that spoil the experience. In handheld mode, for example, the game refuses to detect the control method and forces you to detach one of the joycons. You can re-insert it afterwards and continue in handheld mode, but it’s a weird quirk that seems to be overlooked. There’s also quite an annoying bug that sometimes occurs when you back out to the main menu that causes the game to infinitely load, forcing you to hard reset the game. It feels like a real step back and leaves the game feeling rather unfinished.
Rather than being the sequel that it could have been, Formula Retro Racing: World Tour instead just adds a decent amount of new content to the original game. Whilst that’s not bad in itself, the lack of polish, stiff controls, and higher price tag make it tough to recommend. Perhaps with a patch and a sale, this could be one for the arcade racing fans out there!