Developed by British-based Repixel8 and published by also British-based CGA Studio, today we’ll be looking at a fun little Arcade Racer that promises to evoke the feeling of Arcade Racers of the past, Formula Retro Racing – World Tour.
Available for the Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC from March 31st, and PlayStation from April 21st, we’ll be taking a look at the PC version, which will require 666 MB storage.
If You Ain’t First, You’re Last!
Formula Retro Racing – World Tour is a sequel to Repixel8’s Arcade Racer Formula Retro Racing. It sticks with the low poly aesthetics of the original game but brings new cars and tracks for you to enjoy. There are 18 tracks for you to race around, either by yourself, online with friends or in up to 4-player split screen. There are also 10 cars for you to choose from this time around. The cars are split into 2 categories, which basically boils down to race car or drift car. Race cars include Formula One, Le Mans or classics 40’s grand prix racers. Drift cars include things like JDM style cars, muscle cars, or what appears to be a stock car.
If I’m being honest, it basically felt like 2 different cars, a race car or a drift car. Each vehicle within either category kind of felt the same. You are basically picking the aesthetic. This isn’t a bad thing per se, I would have just liked a little more variety.
There are 3 modes, Arcade and Eliminator, which both have you starting from a rolling start, and Grand Prix, which has you start from a standstill. Arcade and Grand Prix are pretty similar, except Arcade requires you to hit checkpoints in time else it’s game over. Eliminator has you racing, with the opponents getting faster every lap. This sounds more difficult than it is, as after a while the AI becomes too fast to navigate corners, and with their cars basically being made from butter. Well, there are a lot of smashed car parts for you to navigate, I’ll say that much.
It has to be said, on the surface Formula Retro Racing – World Tour is a pretty basic Arcade Racer. That’s not to say its simplicity isn’t well crafted. Whether you opt for a race car or a drift car, they’re responsive and control really well. They are super satisfying to race.
There is also a nice variety in the 18 tracks. There are tracks more suited to race cars, while others, like the one shown above, are for getting sideways. The tracks themselves are all unique and require you to learn them. On the harder difficulties, the game presents a real challenge and knowing the best lines through each course is the key to victory.
What wasn’t quite as unique, was the scenery. If it was a metropolitan setting, such as New York, Hong Kong or Rome, it looks basically the same, but with a famous landmark thrown in. It’s fine and doesn’t take away from the experience. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in the locales, but I’m glad the developer put the time into creating fun and challenging tracks first.
Unlike the cars, the tracks aren’t all unlocked straight off the bat. In each mode, you will have to complete races to unlock more tracks. You’ll receive points for completing races, and each track will require more points to unlock. You will net higher rewards for playing on higher difficulties. When you unlock a track, you unlock it for that mode only. Each mode will require you to progress through them to unlock each track.
Time For a Pit Stop
I’d have liked more unlocks for vehicles too. As mentioned, you have access to all of the cars straight away, and you can select from 20 (often garish) colourways. It would have been nice to unlock new vehicles for completing certain milestones. Customisation would have also been good. Not in-depth, but more options for colours and maybe some liveries and wheels, as well as some basic performance upgrades such as engines, tyres, and suspension. Things like that.
As mentioned, the cars are really responsive and they control well. Anyone who’s remotely adept at Arcade Racers should have no problem with this game at all. The AI on the other hand… I’m not sure if they’re designed to be overly aggressive but they are all over the track. Racing line, shmacing line, amirite? They also like to get caught on parts of the track. Often times I would lap the same AI-controlled car as they keep hitting the same bit of wall for three laps.
Graphics & Audio
Visually, Formula Retro Racing – World Tour is a treat. The low poly graphics really did it for me, and with the damage physics, all of a sudden I was 8 again, playing Destruction Derby on the PS1. The scenery on some of the tracks could have done with a little more variety in some of the metropolitan tracks, but when it was done well, such as the coastal Santa Monica track, it was done really well. It’s a shame because the original game had more variety in its scenery. Though I appreciate that this isn’t a huge team of developers, and the amount of courses has over doubled since the previous game.
The game’s soundtrack consists of about 3 or 4 tracks. This is fine for a game of this size to be honest, and most of them had that ’90s techno or vaporwave feel to them that you’d expect. One of them, however, just didn’t fit at all in my opinion. It sounded like it had been torn straight out of one of those weirdly upbeat life insurance adverts. Take that one out. The audio levels also need addressing. The engine sounds are far too quiet and you can barely hear them over the music. I had to turn the music right down to balance it out.
The game isn’t particularly long, it should only take a few hours to get through all of the Arcade and Grand Prix modes. Eliminator will take a lot longer to get through. I spent half an hour on the first course alone. Not restarting. From start to finish. Half an hour. It’s a bit too much if I’m being honest and I couldn’t see most people playing all the way through Eliminator. It feels like it’s just there to artificially inflate the amount of time you spend with the game.
So the single-player won’t take long to compete, but with the game’s split-screen offering, I could see this as a fun game to pull out if you have some friends over. That would be where I see most time being spent on this game. I think the dev could have done more to add longevity to the game, such as unlocking new vehicles or customisation, but maybe this will come in the sequel.
So, the game could do with a bit of polish. But the developer cares about this game. There were a few other issues that I had while playing that had already been fixed before release day. None of these issues were game-breaking, they were more amusing than anything. But nonetheless, they were there and addressed.
But for all of the stuck AI, repeated scenery and obnoxious upbeat life insurance music, I didn’t care. Formula Retro Racing – World Tour is an incredibly fun game. At its worst, it’s a bit generic, but at its best, it’s an incredibly satisfying Arcade Racer that makes me feel like a kid playing Daytona USA again. It sets out to capture that feeling of ’90s Arcade Racers and it does exactly that. From the low poly graphics to the menu countdown timer to the announcer that shouts “Hurry Up!” in Arcade mode when your time is running low, it’s all there.
Formula Retro Racing – World Tour nabs a podium finish with the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.