PQube, known more and more for their quirky little indie titles in addition to their tendency to bring excellent visual novels to the West, are coming out with Super Pixel Racers on Playstation 4 and Xbox One on October 31st. We took this latest 16-bit/retro-inspired racer for a spin and used the PS4 version to do so.
Lucky me, really. A few months ago I got to review Race Arcade on the PS4 as well, which was a throwback to the likes of Super Sprint and Indy Heat. Super Pixel Racers goes back to that same era, but has a slightly different feel to it – making it a bit more like Super Cars and Nitro than Super Sprint and Indy Heat, which both originated in the arcades of the eighties.
Compared to Race Arcade, Super Pixel Racers has a more zoomed in view of the action, and (not surprisingly when you consider the title) much more emphasis on its pixelated graphics style as opposed to the clean look of Race Arcade. This also means you have less of a view of what’s up ahead and what’s happening behind you, though whatever you like better is a matter of personal preference.
Super Pixel Racers also features a lot of diversity in its gameplay modes, many of which emphasize drifting and dirt surfaces – also quite different from Race Arcade. Gameplay modes include rally cross (which is a straight up race), rally racing (the Dirt kind, racing solo between checkpoints), takedown (pixelated carnage), hunt (Chase HQ-style) and a mode called Drift Show which is a little like a simplified version of gymkhana that’s all about drifting.
Despite all of these modes, Super Pixel Racers starts off slow – literally. Until you upgrade your car’s attributes through your winning, the on screen racing feels somewhat on the slow side – and using your nitro doesn’t help much either. This isn’t an issue when you’re drifting (in fact, it helps in getting a feel for it), but it does make the actual races feel too slow to be exciting.
Luckily, this gets better later on, as you unlock faster cars and upgrades that help make the gameplay more engaging – though the zoomed in perspective does become more of a factor when the action speeds up and it gets trickier to anticipate things. This is especially true during what’s arguably the best feature of the game: split screen multiplayer for up to 4 players at the same time, when you only get 1/4 of the screen to see where you’re headed. It would have been nice to have an alternate view for the game, with a more zoomed out perspective. The default works great for careful cornering in rally races, drift shows, and takedown races, but can be a tad tricky when the action speeds up.
Super Pixel Racer is nevertheless a fun little retro racer, with a ton of versatility in its game modes and that all-important local multiplayer support. As a solo game there isn’t too much to push you forward after you unlock the majority of the cars and upgrades, but as a multiplayer title there is plenty of longevity in this 16-bit racer.