This is an interesting release from Vidia, a full 3D racing game with a visual style that looks like an old 2D pixel game has been blown into the modern age. It is an interesting look, almost like a racing version of Minecraft and I believe this direction is an unqualified success, visually.
It gives the games its own individual style, with dinky little pixel cars racing around retro looking tracks.
Don’t let the cute visual style fool you however, as 3D Pixel Racing is actually a pretty hardcore and thoughtful racer, with many elements you just wouldn’t expect from it if you were judging the game just by its appearance. The game started life on Nintendo’s WiiWare platform, where it received mixed reviews, with critics seemingly so confused by the cute look that they criticized it for being too difficult. I read one review where the reviewer played the title for six hours, slammed the controls then admitted that he had not been using the brake button. Now, that may be the fault of the reviewer, but is the game actually any good and more importantly how does it translate to its new-found home on iOS?
The answers to those two questions are; yes very good, and pretty well actually.
The game sees you taking control of one of those oh so cute pixel racers and tearing around various courses in some excellent game modes. Control is of the tilt variety, with two buttons for brake and accelerate, and another one that appears if you get a turbo. The controls work well, but be warned as this game plays more like Real Racing than Mario Kart, so you will have to drive the correct line and brake correctly to get anywhere on the track. There is also a selectable level of steering assist to help you out. My advice would be to start with full assist on then gradually turn it down as you become more accustomed to the game. I wish there was an option of using an onscreen joystick or pad, but it was not to be.
Once you realise that this isn’t a kart racer and needs to be played carefully and with precision the game becomes more and more enjoyable. There are some great elements that add to this in the way wear and tear effects your tyres, and also in the addition of a fuel gauge. If your car starts to run out of fuel it will run slower and slower, and your tyres will become more and more worn as the racing goes on, both of which result in the need to pit.
A well-timed pit stop can be the key to winning a race, but in a fantastic twist that actually adds a real strategic element to the game, tyre wear is directly related to how well you are driving. Drifting and skidding will wear your wheels out in no time, as will running off-road, but if you drive carefully, braking and turning smoothly your tyres will last longer. Which means that, while all the other cars are pitting, you can take a chance and try to steal a win by not pitting and looking after your car in the last lap or two.
It makes for really tense racing in the Championship mode, where you must complete a tour of five random tracks.
If that all sounds a bit too deep and taxing, then there is another stand out mode that gives you the option of just going mad; Hot Pursuit. In this great little mode, you pick either a cop car or hero car and must either catch the hero when driving a cop car or try to escape the cops when driving the hero car. It is fabulous fun, especially when playing as a cop as you try to ram your enemy off the track against a time limit while avoiding traffic. The only thing missing here is a two player mode. Cops and Robbers over Bluetooth or WiFi would have been a riot and it is a genuine shame that it isn’t included.
There is also a cool capture the flag mode, again spoiled by a lack of multiplayer and also a time trial and single race option. There are 10 tracks, 11 cars and 10 different drivers to choose from plus a full suite of weather conditions and a day/night system to add variety. Some of the cars are very good, with the F1 cars looking really nice, but my favourite has to be the dinky Daytona car.
Presentation is spot on with some nice techno music and fantastic TV style replays to watch after the race.
Overall, I really love this game, a brilliant mix of retro cool graphics, decent gameplay and proper racing elements. The array of modes on offer is impressive, and I would score the game higher if it had multiplayer. As it is this is an excellent single player racing game with of boat load of character that will give racing fans plenty of enjoyment.
Just remember to use that brake button, ok?