November 25, 2020

Back in the Race - 80s Overdrive Review

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TL;DR: Take the best parts of Outrun, Top Gear, and Rad Racer and you got 80s Overdrive.

burn rubber

I'll admit that when I first loaded up 80s Overdrive by developer Insane Code to review, it didn't look like much to me. I assumed it was just another budget arcade racer built on an obsolete engine being developed towards the naive retro crowd.

But once I got into the game, I realized a few things: first, 80's Overdrive was a lot more fun than I expected, thanks in part to a host of gameplay options that go beyond the typical race-around-the-track-variety. This racer sports a career mode, two game modes with a track editor, and eight unique visual themes.

But the varying gameplay isn't all that makes the game distinct. The graphics are simple but stunning in a retro sort of way. Everything is rendered in beautiful pixel art, and for a brief moment, you'll think you were whisked back in time playing the arcade version of Outrun. The multi-layered scrolling backgrounds especially in the Mountain and Forest levels are impressive and give the game a truly unmistakable look.

If you've ever played any of the classics like Top Gear, Outrun, or Rad Racer then you'll be instantly familiar with the racing mechanics here.

outrun the top gear

Despite the fact that there are no official car maker licenses, 80s Overdrive includes six cars ranging from default Tetosterando, the Intruder, to a DeLorean look-alike. Each vehicle offers multiple paint jobs, customizations, and upgrades that you will need to keep your car competitive in every race. Once you've selected your driver and car it's time to race and that's when the fun starts. You'll have to battle your way past other racers, pedestrian drivers, and the police who are always in hot pursuit of speeders.

If you've ever played any of the classics like Top Gear, Outrun, or Rad Racer then you'll be instantly familiar with the racing mechanics here. The goal is not just to finish the race but to come in the top three spots so you can unlock additional courses. Little touches of humor such as emojis being displayed by other drivers when you cause them to crash or drivers honking their horns when you speed too close help sweeten the experience.

The controls are as simple as can be using only a combination of button presses. Learning to control your car at high speed with someone hot on your tail is no easy task, but the payoff is worth the effort.

If you're looking for a fun arcade racing game with that old nostalgia look and feel, make sure to pick up a copy. You'd be crazy not to.

bumper cars

As fun as the game is, there's a major issue I have with it. For one, when you hit a barrier your car literally comes to a full stop, which quickly sucks away the adrenaline rush. I would have preferred the car spin out or at least slow down instead of coming to a dead stop. This is also true when you crash into other cars, but at least you don't come to a full stop. I'm hoping the developers can look into this request and tweak it a bit so it is not such a thrill breaker.

All told, 80s Overdrive has a lot to offer for such a simple game. It has enough eye candy, adrenaline-pumping soundtracks, and lots of replay value to warrant the asking price of $10. If you're looking for a fun arcade racing game with that old nostalgia look and feel, make sure to pick up a copy. You'd be crazy not to.

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