I do like a good racer. Whether it be a quick run around Edinburgh in Forza Horizon 4 or a flawless victory lap on Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 8, there’s little better in the gaming landscape than a solid racer you can play with mates. Super Pixel Racers is an entirely different beast altogether though, leaning a little more on the side of Micro Machines with a dash of V-Rally, it’s something of its own genre in the way it handles, and as such is probably worth a dive into if you’re looking for something a little different.
There’s an awful lot of modes packed into Super Pixel Racers, enough to ensure you’re getting more than your money’s worth (the game is currently under nine quid on PSN). The modes aren’t particularly unique to the game but offers a fresh take on them thanks to the isometric view and ‘pointing’ controls. You’ve got ‘Rally’, which has you racing for the best time on a procedurally generated track, ‘Rally Cross’ which has you race seven other racers, ‘Land Rush’ which knocks out racers one by one until the winner is all that’s left, ‘Takedown’ which has you attacking your fellow racers when using nitro, the brilliant ‘Hunt’ which has you chasing down a target and ‘Drift Show’, which is essentially just a showcase for your mad sick drifting skills. I credit PQube for adding plethora of game modes so Super Pixel Racers, it really adds to the overall experience. Particularly when I, perhaps rather foolishly, expected very little in terms of extra additions away from a standard campaign mode. The variety on offer is a delight.
If you want more, there’s even local and online multiplayer included. The online thus far is quiet but I was able to get a couple of racers in which I got resolutely destroyed, and rightfully so. Local multiplayer is split-screen and is a ton of fun which is just the cherry on top of this surprisingly delightful cake.
Nostalgia is the aim of the game here, it’s a wholly arcade-esque experience that’s not particularly easy, at least at first. There are two control schemes to choose from, and choosing the correct one at first will determine whether or not you’re going to stick with the game entirely. You have a ‘pointing mode’, which moves your car in the direction of your choosing automatically, the same way you’d control vehicles in Halo, for example. The buttons are relegated to nitro and drifting, something you’ll need to do to boost up your nitro bars. It’s a little tricky to get your head around at first, so you may want to jump into the classic control scheme, where you fully control the movement and speed of your car. It’s very much down to personal preference obviously (and the game encourages the ‘pointing mode’), I found myself reverting to classic after a while. I wasn’t achieving an awful lot allowing acceleration to be controlled for me. You can jump between the two whenever you like, mind.
Talking of the nitro, it’s ridiculously important to the success of your races. The tracks are tight, compact and over in an instant, so a good start is paramount, particularly when you can’t really see what’s coming thanks to a very tight isometric camera angle. The nitro you collect through drifting around tricky corners is invaluable, and provides an instant whacking burst of speed. I found myself saving them for the straights, as your car is a pain in the ass to control at those speeds around corners. If you want to win your races you’re going to have to adopt the drifting/nitro combo pretty quickly, as every other racer knows exactly what they’re doing right off the line. Drifting is your ultimate ally, so make sure to get the practice in. It’s certainly deeper than I was ever expecting.
Particularly in the campaign, which is far more meaty than you might expect. You’ll be tearing it through classes and levels in no time, unlocking new cars and upgrading. There’s a genuine difference in the feel of the cars too, ensuring your choices are paramount when it comes to what car you’re going to use in certain races. Advanced races are tough as balls and a heck of a lot faster than the earlier tracks. The jump is rather bonkers but if you’ve mastered the drift/nitro combination you’re sure to do pretty well in the latter stages. The races are never all that long so you’ll find yourself playing them over and over to improve your scores and get a better understanding of the handling of the more advances vehicles.
You’ve got a ton to be getting on with then in Super Pixel Racers and that took me a little by surprise, admittedly. There’s been a procession of racers released recently (Nickelodeon Kart Racers, All-Star Fruit Racing..) which offer some championships and not much else and are twice the price. Brilliantly, PQube have packed in a huge variety of game modes and even an online multiplayer in a game that costs less than two pints of beer in London.
It may not reach the dizzying heights of the almighty Mantis Burn Racing in terms of the isometric racers, but there’s absolutely no doubt you’re going to be mightily impressed with Super Pixel Racers.
Super Pixel Racers is out now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and Xbox One.
Publisher: PQube / H2 Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy, please go here.