What do you get if you make a modern Out Run without using modern technology? Slipstream.
Sandro Luiz de Paula is a 34-year-old South American developer who loves retro racing more than life itself. Out Run. Chase HQ. Top Gear Racing. Three games that have clearly been the template for Slipstream, which was released on PC a few years ago but is only now rolling out to consoles.
I remember very, very well the first time I saw the Out Run arcade. I was nine years old and had probably never seen anything stranger in my life. My dear grandmother saw with great clarity how fascinated I was and threw some pennies into the machine and watched as I played through it, which for me was my greatest gaming achievement at the time. Out Run was magical and Yu Suzuki's iconic classic is the game that Ansdor Studio based Slipstream on in terms of set-up. Pixelated country roads scroll by at breakneck speed while a stationary sports car with jagged edges careens around corners. Accelerating is done with the A button and braking on B, which skews the spin and allows for the car to drift and slide. The drifting animation is done in two steps based on a measly double-frame, which looks so silly and old fashioned and makes it all very simple. Everything feels completely digital and very flat in terms of game mechanics.
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Just like in Out Run, when you crash into trees or buildings, the car spins in the air for a few moments before landing on its wheels again and continuing forward. The only thing not borrowed straight from the Sega classic is the rivalry bit, as each track offers a race against a specific opponent's car, a car driven by a character that talks to me via pixelated dialogue boxes, telling me how fast his/her car is, how bad I am, or what he/she is going to eat for dinner. Now, these rivals aren't very understanding and the racing is neither challenging nor tight, making the set-up quickly become monotonous. But Slipstream isn't bad. It's retro, charming, and design-wise, adorable, but it doesn't hold up for more than maybe 25 minutes of active play before the challenges are completed and the fun ends.
Considering that only one person - whose childhood was marked by these kinds of pixel-based road ragers - made Slipstream, it feels unfair to be too harsh but in my world this should be a free game for mobile.
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5 / 10
Charming design. Out Run tribute is lovely. Nice cars.