On your marks, get set GO! Super Pixel Racers is drifting onto PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this month. This latest effort from H2 interactive and PQube is a retro-inspired top-down racer with 2D pixel graphics and pumping soundtrack. Super Pixel Racers offers thirteen tracks set all over the world with varied weather condition effects that aim to give your skills to the ultimate test.
Everything from the presentation to how the game controls took me back to the days of playing the all-time classic Micro Machines and even the arcade smash hit Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road. It also bears a similarity to the PS Vita version of MotorStorm which took a sideways spin on the series opting to replace the many vehicles of its full-blown console outings with mini RC replicas. It was a refreshing take on the series. I guess the question to pose with Super Pixel Racers is – does it have enough horsepower with behemoths like Horizon 4 currently on the circuit?
It certainly seems that way to me, of course, we are dealing with a different beast but this game is quintessential yesteryear arcade racing fun and frustration that is perfectly packaged for short burst entertainment. That’s not to say in any way, shape, or form that Super Pixel Racers is light on content with an expansive career mode consisting of 200+ races over nine leagues. If that wasn’t enough it also brings variety to the table with it’s modes including, Rally Cross in which up to seven drivers battle it out to be crowned champion – classic point to point racing in the procedurally generated Rally mode – the timed event Land Rush where only 1st place is good enough – the Burnout inspired Takedown where the aim of the game is to destroy all of the other cars – Hunt, chase the target down – and finally scored based Drift Show where points mean prizes. Some modes work better than others and my personal favourite was Takedown because who doesn’t like smashing the crap out of everything in sight. You can also take to the track in multiplayer with four-player local split screen or up to 8 players online.
With every win, you earn money and unlock additional races. Money is spent to upgrade your current vehicles improving their overall stats and thus your chance of gold in the next event. Basic customisation options include acceleration, nitro, durability and even a new paint job. Money is also required to unlock the different cars and with each having its own set of attributes it is prudent to get these opened up as soon as you can.
The controls take a little bit of getting used to if I’m honest, I can’t recall having this sort of challenge recently but maybe I have been conditioned with more modern offerings. You have a basic acceleration and brake trigger button layout with the stick providing movement in the same direction as it is being pushed. Drifting is the key to successfully building up the nitro boost and features heavily if you want to get ahead of the pack. The timing of manoeuvres is critical as hitting the sides will often leave you stuck behind a barrier and soon in last place. Once this core mechanic is mastered the game becomes a joy to play. My tip would be to revert the control method to classic, although this is detailed as being harder it was actually the complete opposite.
Super Pixel Racers is fast, fun and rewarding to play, with enough content and variety to keep you hooked it’s surely worth a look. The graphics are polished and the soundtrack is pumping if a little annoying in places. Handling takes a bit of work to master but the game plays perfectly as expected with the power of this generations machines behind it. I would love to see this get a release on the Switch as it would be ideally suited to the pickup and play portability that it provides.
Beard Score: 6/10
Players: 1 – 4 plus online
Publisher: PQube Ltd
Format: Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4