Ultimate Racing 2D
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Ultimate Racing 2D is a love letter to the good old days of racing games when a birdseye view was the only way to experience our favourite motorsports. Whether you gathered around an arcade cabinet coughing up ten pence pieces with your friends for a few laps on Off-Road or Super Sprint or duked it out with your siblings at home with Combat Car’s or Micro Machines, this simple but effective selection of racing action holds a special place in the hearts for gamers of the late eighties and early nineties.
Applimazing has taken that retro theme and injected it with a generous offering of racing classes and disciplines with their nostalgia-filled Ultimate Racing 2D. Making it’s way to home console after it’s initial outing on steam, UR2D boasts over thirty-five racing classes across three core game modes, Career, Championship and Quick Race.
The career is split into three categories:
Event Mode – Allows you to either play through a series of races unlocking new vehicle classes along the way or select specific vehicle classes to compete with at your leisure.
Season Mode – Allows you to select a vehicle class to play through a series of races, after each season your performance will dictate which contracts within that class are available to you, these will range from different fictional team’s each with their own vehicle stats.
Coin Mode – Race for money to spend on unlocking new classes.
Championship set’s up a series of race events to compete through with quick race doing exactly what it says on the tin. Multiplayer also features for a group of up to eight friends to compete locally with no online features to speak of. Races have a fair level of customisation from being able to change tyres through weather changes and also allowing qualifying and pit stops.
All in all the content is pretty plentiful on paper but as I started playing I soon learnt that pretty much all the modes had a heavy case of copy and paste about them with nothing feeling as progressive as the name suggests. Season mode was the most fleshed out with the inclusion of earning better team contracts depending on my performance throughout a season but other than that it all felt very samey.
This wasn’t helped by the whopping selection of thirty-five vehicle classes which ranged from various formula classes, stock car, vintage, monster truck, superbike and even forklift trucks and beyond all feeling near enough identical to play as. Aside from the aesthetics and a slight change in engine pitch, there was no weight or handling difference to be had swapping from a sports car to a truck, the only time things felt a bit more engaging was switching from tarmac to oval dirt tracks which gave a bit more slip and slide to the steering.
The track selection itself was the highlight of the experience, inspired by famous locations around the world from Monico to Silverstone with a wide range of countries being represented the tracks were intricate and designed to suit their respective classes. Go-Kart’s, for example, had stacks of tyres lining the track as you’d expect and switching the weather effects to rainy left a subtle animation of water behind the vehicles which was a nice touch.
Difficulty was a mixed bag, although each race allowed you to set the master difficulty, number of vehicles and weather effects the core handling of the AI seemed to be too perfect at first, all opponents stuck like glue to the racing line, highlighted by a slightly darker tyre marking around each track meaning you I had to race perfectly on each race to stand a chance of winning even on the default medium setting. So much as touching some grass or breaking a bit hard for a corner would cause such a gap between me and the lead it was almost impossible to catch up. This was made even more frustrating by the oversensitive steering but thankfully once I engaged my retro brain the gameplay started to come together. A recent patch also seems to have balanced the overall gameplay out to a more arcadey feel which does much more credit to the retro vibe than trying to blend Micro Machines with Gran Turismo.
Presentation is simplistic, as mentioned the tracks themself are the star of the show thought the surrounding scenery looks bland. The vehicles have enough detail to set them apart and are broken down into a series of colours to represent their teams. Controls are simple, accelerate with ZR and brake with ZL, type changes can be made with L and R and if you choose to include Boost in your races this can be activated by holding B.
I was looking forward to Ultimate Racing 2D for it’s nod to racing games of old with a large selection of vehicles and modes. Sadly it didn’t take long to see all it had to offer and although there is plenty of potential on show, none of it gets lived up to and what begins as a game that might of been a great throwback for older gamers becomes a minimalistic title that would struggle to keep younger gamers interested for more than an hour or two.
TBG Score: 4.5/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PC
Release Date: 06/01/2020
No. of Players: 1-8
Category: Racing, Arcade, Sport
Download link: eShop