Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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Retro Racing is a top-down racing game developed by Jamie Woodhouse, who created the similar Nitro and ATR games for Amiga back in the 1990s, and this game follows in their tradition of top-down racing. The goal in each race is to get third or above to advance to the next of 12 tracks. Each of the six cars (three come with the game, three are unlocked with an in-app purchase) has different speed, acceleration, and tire grip attributes. These stats can be increased for the duration of the race through the collection of powerups laying around the track, along with a nitro boost that can be collected.
Fans of old-school racers like the Micro Machines games or the aforementioned titles will be right at home here. It’s basic left/right and gas controls, driving through top-down courses. The races take 90 seconds, give or take, so they’re perfect for short sessions, and it makes a poor performance in one race not a huge issue – just get back in there and try again! Each track has a bevy of shortcuts and alternate paths, often leading to difficult choices. Is it worth it to take a longer path to pick up the powerup icons, in the hopes that the gain from upgrades will result in an ultimately faster time? The graphics are done in a way that appears smooth on high-resolution devices, but still has that retro feel to it. The game is universal, and the iPad version comes with same device two-player support.
The game is rather short, with only 12 tracks. The later tracks do get more difficult and require increasingly improved runs. To help alleviate some of the difficulty, three more advanced cars are available through in-app purchase. They don’t make the game automatically winnable, especially on later difficulties where collecting multiple powerups in a race is the key to finishing in a top position, but they are a great help. This may be a bit off-putting, but it’s also a sign of the times and the economics of the current app landscape. It would be nice to have the option to play in landscape mode as well as portrait, especially as the multiplayer mode offers a wider view of the action than single-player does.
Players looking for a quick bite of old-school racing action on their iOS device will be right at home with Retro Racing. It doesn’t necessarily last long, but it is fun for its brief moments, and there’s always the quest for first place finishes on each track and iPad multiplayer to extend playtime. And with it being 2012, the hope of additional tracks is always alive.