Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: December 12, 2019
Super Pixel Racers is an isometric racer available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Can Super Pixel Racers deliver an entertaining throwback to retro era 16 bit racers from Amiga, Commodore 64 and NES such as RC Pro-Am, Skid Marks and Super Offroad?
Career mode comprises of a total of nine event categories including beginning in C class were there are 12 races available to compete in within the first league with the opening three race events immediately available to participate in. However, the player has to unlock the other nine events within C class by completing the previous quantity of events in the same fashion as to how everything after the opening class is unlocked as completing C Class unlocks the C Class Plus that is set at night on reverse tracks and B Class leagues, although winning every event rather than finishing on the podium within C Class unlocks the Rookie Cups category featuring 7 cups totalling 24 events.
Career mode features a multitude of event types including a race against 7 A.I. controlled cars in rally cross; a time trial in which the player is challenged to complete multiple laps within a specific objective time; takedown events are reminiscent of a retro version of Burnout as the objective is to reach a quantity of takedowns by using the nitro boost to prevent any of the other 15 cars from continuing the event within the time limit; and drift show tasks the player to drift to gain enough points before time runs out. B class events introduce a gymkhana element in drift show events with obstacles to smash through for extra points, while land rush is three minutes of alternate tracks set on dirt roads within forest environments as you compete against 7 A.I. controlled cars to see who leads at the end of the race; and rally provides yet another unique challenge via having to drive or drift through checkpoints in order to extend the time limit in an attempt to reach a total distance as long as 64km on a land rush track.
Meanwhile, free race mode allows the player to customise their car, circuit and difficulty, although free race mode only includes the rally cross event type rather than every event type.
Circuit design is quite varied as each of the circuits are constructed from hairpin corners that are perfect for drifting or more flowing corners that are essentially long, fast bends leading into an even longer straight that are ideal for engaging nitro boosts. Meanwhile, some tracks are narrower or at least narrow through a particular segment of the track due to the inclusion of tire barriers to condense the track layout in comparison to other areas of the circuit; creating a multitude of entirely unique circuit characteristics. 15 circuits are situated in countries with a genuine racing heritage including France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Australia, UK, America, Japan, Bahrain, Senegal, Malaysia, Brazil, Finland, Canada and China. Meanwhile, time of day and weather conditions feature day and night, alongside clear skies, rainy and snowy; therefore providing half a dozen sets of track conditions per circuit.
Car design has a wide variety as there are 10 cars to collect spread across a multitude of preferred event types based upon the design of the respective car such as the f500 being a more standard balanced car, while Mouse is dedicated to drifting events and Guide is the car engineered towards takedown events. Meanwhile, unlocking a car is followed by upgrading each car individually throughout four unique attributes including top speed, acceleration, nitro and durability that costs varying quantities to purchase each quality of upgrade from level 0 to level 10 via in-game currency earned by your finishing positions in each event.
Super Pixel Racers has a genuine sense of speed combined with handling that is perfect for a challenging racer, while the sense of speed and handling are naturally variable in their quality based upon it being a C, B or A class tier car and how much each of the four unique attributes have been upgraded in career mode, although free race mode and multiplayer allows the player to select a car and any quality of upgrades.
Super Pixel Racers’ remote play performance retains the graphical qualities, audio and general performance from the PS4 version in single player and multiplayer, while there were no necessary control scheme optimisations to begin with; resulting in an extremely comfortable and entertaining remote play experience.
Both control schemes are not easy to master at least at first, although starting off against slower cars in career mode is a valuable learning curve for your preferred control scheme. Pointing mode utilises the left analogue stick by pushing up or right to steer in those respective directions as the singular major difference in control schemes as classic mode sees the player pushing the left analogue stick left or right to turn in that direction with a massive change in how the car handles in direct comparison. Elsewhere, holding X performs a drift around a corner; holding O to engage a nitro boost; moving the left analogue stick back and forth to the left and right to repair your car; pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to chat; and tapping the touch pad to display the pause menu. Vibration occurs when colliding with other cars or the trackside barriers, while there is no light bar support that could have provided an alternative HUD to display your car’s health.
Graphically, Super Pixel Racers is retro inspired with a retro pixel art style harking back to the 16 bit era on cars and trackside environments combined with pretty good animations when cars are drifting through the corners and a fast pacing to the gameplay even when the nitro boost has not been engaged.
Super Pixel Racers’ presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, career mode menus, free race mode menus, local multiplayer menus, online multiplayer menus, settings menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds include a plethora of cars drifting through a particular area of the track, alongside the Super Pixel Racers title logo.
Sound effects include your car and nearby cars accelerating and drifting, engaging nitro boosts and repairs being made to your car; complimented by retro stylised 16 bit arcade music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced sound effects for drifting, nitro boosts or repairing your car.
The trophy list includes 15 trophies with 4 silver trophies, 10 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Wrench and Hammer silver trophy for repairing your car 100 times; the Nitro Mania gold trophy for using nitro total 1,000km; and the Drift Holic gold trophy for drifting a total of 1,000km. Harder trophies include the A New Champion gold trophy for winning every race; the Master Driver gold trophy for completing A class; and the I am the Winner silver trophy for winning an online multiplayer race with a full grid of competitors. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 30 hours to platinum the trophy list.
Career mode difficulty includes class D, C, B, A and S with prize money totalling to 85%, 90%, 95%, 100% and 110% respectively, although the difficulty gradually increases as the player progresses through the leagues and cups with A.I. controlled cars becoming faster and more aggressive, alongside objectives are harder during other event types. Meanwhile, free race mode difficulty includes the quantity of A.I. controlled cars, their respective difficulty and to have a much shorter or longer rally cross event.
Local competitive split-screen multiplayer retains the performance of single player, while allowing two to four players to participate in three unique gameplay variations including rally cross as a race to the finishing line; takedown challenges players to takedown other player’s cars by strategically using nitro; and hunt tasks the players to hunt the target who in turn has to avoid being hunted for 1,000 points per successful turn. Players can customise the settings of each event type such as choosing a random track or a specific day or night variation of any track, while having the capability of selecting no A.I. or up to half a dozen A.I. controlled cars with varying A.I. difficulty levels. Meanwhile, players can choose between a cup race to compete in three consecutive events rather than a single race, alongside selecting each of the three circuits. However, there is no ability to mix and match between the three separate event types within the same cup resulting in the cup remaining in the rally cross, takedown or hunt event type for its duration, while there is no option to select a particular quantity of laps unlike in free race mode were a single player can choose shorter or longer events, no points table to inform each player of what position they need to finish in order to win the cup and there is no podium for each car at the end of the three cup races. Meanwhile, multiplayer functionality expands to online multiplayer that supports 2 to 8 players.
Super Pixel Racers’ replayability is vast in many individual components including a career mode with genuine depth, collecting and upgrading cars in career mode, a customisable free race mode, five difficulty levels, local competitive split-screen multiplayer for two to four players and online multiplayer that collectively will have players returning for dozens of hours.
• Title: Super Pixel Racers
• Developer: 21c Ducks
• Publisher: H2 Interactive/PQube
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-4 (Split-Screen Multiplayer)/2-8 (Online Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 1.43GB (Version 1.03)