May 4 2019
Modern Gaming Roundup: Super Pixel Racers
: Super Pixel Racers
: 21c Ducks
: H2 Interactive/pQube
: Top down Rally racing
: PS4, Xbox One (Tested on PS4)
Did the reviewer finish the game
Did the reviewer buy the game
Let me get this out of the way straight away, Super Pixel Racers has disappointed me.
I love games like Power Drive, Neo Drift Out, and in a slightly wider net, Super Off-Road and Micro Machines. What they all manage, and something that Evolution Studios pulled off a few years ago with a top-down adaptation of the Motorstorm franchise, is that the controls allow you to drift with the confidence and precision that you need when going toe to toe with cars and corners, as fast as possible.
Super Pixel Racers certainly looks the part, and was a factor that instantly drew me towards it, but it was a short lived affair, as I just could not agree with the controls.
I'm more than comfortable with a top down game that uses player orientated steering (left goes to the car's left, essentially rotating anti-clockwise), and it takes some getting used to, but I can handle screen-oriented steering (left rotates the car the shortest direction to face left on the screen.
Super Pixel racers gives the choice between both of these systems, but however, opted to add an additional system a little like the Human Grand Prix series on the SNES. Human Grand Prix approximate analogue steering on a digital snes pad but showing an arrow in the center of the car. As you held a direction the arrow moved further away from centre, and the tighter the applied steering angle was. I have a feeling that in the American release (rebranded with the F1 Pole Position name) they added the ability for this to automatically spring back to centre. This meant that holding a precise angle in a corner was a little tricky, but at least there was the visual feedback so that you knew exactly what effect your tapping rhythm had, and it avoided the problem that the Japanese release had, which was that I could never go straight down a....straight. Without the automatic return to centre the player has to do it themselves, and stopping it in the centre seemed to be a real fine art.
Back to Pixel Racers, it employs a similar system, where instead of the controller having a direct influence on the car, it rotates a target angle, and then the car starts to rotate towards that at a slower speed. This makes the practice of clipping apexes, precision drifting, and even avoiding other cars something that you have to plan a second or so ahead of time, which really isn't a fun experience.
Secondly, when using the screen relative controls, the flowing nature of the tracks, where you are drifting from one direction change to the other makes it feel extremely clumsy, and if you find yourself mid corner, with the radius tightening my instinct is to keep holding the direction I'm holding expecting the car to continue turning, but instead you need to have the awareness to move your thumb further around the angle of rotation.
My time with Super Pixel Racers did not last long, I stuck with it for a little while to see if there was something that needed to rewire in my brain, but ultimately I decided it is just a flawed control mechanism, and it was preventing me from enjoying the game, even the easy races in the career ended up being difficult, not because of the opponents speed, but due to the amount of obstacles that I would crash into and ultimately destroy my car.
There are much better games in this genre to play.