Note: XBox review copy supplied by BlitWorks
Genre: Arcade Racer
Studio: Ansdor Games
Arcade-style racing game inspired by the spirit of the early 90s, with drifting mechanics and exotic tracks.
Back in my youth, I was blown away by the SEGA Super Scaler style racers. The likes of Out Run and Super Hang-On looked phenomenal in their day, and the technology used to create the visual effect of the races was really quite wonderful. Slipstream pays homage to this visual style in a way that feels like a real love letter to the era. The package is a little shinier and neater, but everything that made Super Scalers what they were is here. From parallax scrolling backgrounds to the sturdy, repeated obstacles on the sides of the road, from the vehicle shading to the retro effects when you drift, it’s all very authentic. Similarly, the audio in Slipstream may have a modern sheen to it, but it feels like it would fit in nicely among the 90s racers. There’s a good variety of tunes on show here that help increase that nostalgic feel.
In terms of gameplay, I was impressed with how the game handled. For the most part, the controls are really simple, but with the added drift mechanic to set it apart from most straightforward racers. The drifting itself involves some quick switching back and forth between shoulder buttons which, I will admit, I found a little fiddly. To that end, the automatic drifting mode was something I made a lot of use of. Whichever method you use though, the drifting is what you’d expect. As long as you time it right and don’t hold it longer than you need to, it’ll see you safely around the longer, tight turns.
Another mechanic I enjoyed was the rewind ability. Here, if you crash, you can rewind a couple of seconds of play and try again. Best of all, doing so sees the screen flooded with a visual effect that makes it look like you’re rewinding a VHS tape while it’s still playing. Not to mention that, if the race you’re in involves a rival, they’ll make a comment about you rewinding time. It’s touches like that that show how much the developers cared about this project. They also clearly care about a certain blue hedgehog, and if you do too, you’ll have some fun with certain screens and course names.
In terms of play modes, you get a few different choices here, each bringing its own flavour. Grand Tour sees you drive through a couple of different stages with each one divided by a fork in the road where you can choose where you travel to next. Cannonball is similar but without the route choice. Grand Prix is a series of races with points awarded depending on how you place, and the winner is the racer with the highest total in the end. Single Race and Time Trial are exactly what they sound like, and Battle Royale sees you keep racing with the last place participant eliminated in each round until only one driver is left. Multiplayer also sees a welcome return for split-screen couch play.
So, with all those positives, are there any negative things to say about the game? Well, your mileage for the game will depend a great deal on nostalgia and admiration. If you’re a fan in any way of Super Scaler racers, then this will be a great experience for you. If you don’t have any love for that type of arcade racer, then you’ll still be able to enjoy the game, but it won’t have quite the same appeal.
Overall though, Slipstream is a fun, excellently executed homage to Super Scaler Arcade Racers with a few modern touches to boot. If you’re a fan of the genre, you absolutely should pick it up.