80’s Overdrive is a throwback to arcade racing games from the 1980’s. It many ways this game resembles the classic “Outrun” or “Rad Racer” games, but it also feels modern and is it’s own thing.
Are you the fastest racer? Are you the best racer? Are you ready to compete around the world and prove your excellence? Like any other racer, the main goal of this game is to be the greatest racer and to win all the races. The game has a fairly strait forward gameplay loop. After each successful won race you will receive prize money, money which you will need to purchase entry into other races. You can also spend your earned money to upgrade your vehicle(s) or buy new vehicles. The currency system is a huge element of this game. Success breeds more opportunities for success and the player needs to strategically invest the money earned to be become more successful. Upgrading and maintaining your vehicle is a major aspect of the game and necessary for advancement. Most of these upgrades are self-explanatory but within this review I will discuss a few of them in detail. The player can upgrade / maintain the following aspects of their vehicle(s):
- Increase Top speed
- Increase Maneuverability
- Increase Structural integrity
- Make repairs
- Add nitro boost capability
- Refuel the gas tank
- Add a police scanner
The Nitro boosts can only be used twice per race , and only when the player has already reached the vehicle(s) maximum speed. Using Nitro boosts to push yourself ahead of your competition or ahead of traffic or the police is something you must do on a regular basis to win. Nitro boosts are a fun dynamic and I enjoyed using them within the game.
The vehicles can receive damage from hitting other vehicles or going off road. So upgrading the structure integrity is key to mitigate future damage. The player will need to watch the damage meter and occasionally pay to repair the vehicle. Traffic which I mentioned earlier is another thing to consider as the player needs to avoid hitting other vehicles to prevent damage. Sadly the game doesn’t showcase any crazy crashes or radical flips so any damage to your vehicle is largely invisible. Your car can become wrecked if you reach the maximum amount of damage on the damage meter. It’s pretty cool to see your car become smoky and break down on the side of the road when you wreck your vehicle . The cost to repair a totaled vehicle is higher than just repairing it in between races, but you might not be able to afford to repair the vehicle unless you win the race. The damage is saved automatically so you can’t forget to maintain and repair your vehicles. The vehicle damage system is a nice addition to the game and is well implemented .
The police are a big aspect of this game and the police scanner vehicle upgrade tells you when police vehicles are nearby. Sadly this information is displayed on the bottom screen, so you would need to quickly look down from the main top screen to view the scanner. It takes a split second to view the other screen so it’s a risk/reward dynamic to view the police scanner. You might crash your vehicle or miss a turn within that split second so viewing the policy scanner or anything on the bottom screen is potentially hazardous to the race. Honestly I don’t care to know if the police are close by, because there isn’t much that you can really do about it. The police will go after the player for going above the speed limit, however if you slow down your vehicle to be under the speed limit that will dramatically decrease your ability to win the race. The police are a serious threat to the player and have aggressive artificial intelligence. The police will actively try to hit the player and try to run you off the road . If the police catch the player they will give you a speeding ticket. The player can decide to pay the ticket and continue the race (which is not necessarily worth it and the race is probably already lost) or just reset the race entirely and not pay the ticket. The police can be outrun if your vehicle is fast or agile enough. I do enjoy the element of the police being within the game, it’s a thrilling gameplay mechanic. It’s incredibly satisfying to use a turbo boost and blast past the police. Ultimately the police scanner is a frivolous addition and I would suggest the player not spend money on this feature.
The game does many interesting things to add variety to the gameplay. The main game includes random bonus missions for the player. For example one bonus mission is to purposefully lose a race and to finish in a specific place. If you complete the bonus missions you will be handsomely rewarded with cash prizes . Many times the rewards for successful competing a bonus mission will be significantly more money than actually winning the race. Sometimes you will be able to double dip and complete the mission and still be able to win the race and receive a huge cash reward for doing both simultaneously . Another example of a bonus mission is when a mysterious man asks you to purposefully damage another specific character in the race to teach them a lesson. Finally another mission you may receive is to you collect several packages that are left on a specific track. These bonus missions are sometimes unethical but are always fun. These bonus missions are also totally optional and you can ignore them if you so wish. If you run out of money the game will institute a touch screen mini game. Within this mini game you will need to use the touch screen to clean the dirt off your opponent’s vehicles with the stylus. This mini game is only available when you run out of money . This mini game is a smart design choice by the developers and gives the player the ability to earn small amounts of money and be able to get back into the main game. The game also has a time attack mode, which is a fun alternative to the main story mode and asks for perfection from the player. Can you beat the times set by the developer for each of the tracks? This game mode is lengthy and is well done. I do applaud the effort the game developers have done to keep the gameplay fresh.
Sadly the track design leaves allot to be desired. The game has a large number of tracks to race on with eight visual themes. The player selects the individual tracks via the world map and they have free reign to select whatever track they can afford to enter. The vast majority of the tracks look and feel the same with only minor deviations. The different visual themes (beach, desert, etc.) are nice but overall the track designs are all nearly identical. The tracks are all on highways that may or may have sections that split the lanes apart, but they always lead to the same end goal. The tracks are linear by design and the game heavily discourages exploration. If the player goes off the main track you will almost instantly hit an obstacle that will promptly stop your progress and damage your car. The tracks are essentially surrounded by invisible brick walls , and it is jarring to see a small traffic sign instantly stop a car going 200 miles (321 Kilometers) per hour. I couldn’t find a single short cut within this game. I feel that short cuts should be part of any racing game so a total lack of them is disappointing. The player can pick previously won tracks and replay them as needed to make money. The game can become monotonous to play because of all the nearly identical track design and the need to replay tracks to gain enough money to advance. The various tracks do offer terrain that contains hills and valleys which gives some variety to the design, but I wish the levels did more to differentiate themselves. Overall the track design is adequate for this style of game, but it left me wanting more.
The game includes a track editor and sadly this addition is all but worthless. The track editor is a series of menu sliders you can change to create new tracks. Adjusting sliders in a menu isn’t the most satisfying or fun way to make your own content. The custom tracks can be saved and the game will generate a specific numeric code for each created level. The game doesn’t have a built in community to view and share custom track codes. Nor does the game have an option to share the tracks via social media. Some aspects of the level editor are vague and I was left confused to what certain options did. With the tracks looking so similar from one another it can become difficult to see how your custom levels are any different from the ones made by the developer. I simply didn’t care about making my own tracks and didn’t find this mode to be enjoyable or well implemented .
The controls for this game feel tight and are responsive. You have the option to have manual transmission and shift up and down the transmission with the L/R buttons. One small issue I had with the controls is how you travel to your next track within the world map via the touch screen. The game doesn’t indicate that you can move the map around with touch input on the touch screen. The game does have a cursor to select tracks but it doesn’t automatically pan the screen to reveal more of the map when you hit the edge of the viewable screen. The game never tells you how to move the world map and assumes that you will figure it out. I did figure it out (eventually) but it’s a strange obvious omission. This map scrolling issue is a small nitpick but overall the controls are excellent.
The music for this game is truly fantastic. The electronic techno songs presented within this game perfectly match the style of synthesized music from the 1980’s. The game has a large selection of musical tracks to select from . I really enjoyed the entire selection of musical tracks within this game. Sadly the player has to select the song they want to hear before each race, and this can be an agonizing choice since all the music is totally tubular. Having a simple shuffle option would have helped to alleviate this difficult choice for the player. Some of the songs even have some lyrics and fairly complex compositions. Some of the songs resemble other popular songs from the 1980’s, but they still sound distinct and unique . Easily the music in 80’s Overdrive is the best aspect of the game. I only wish I could make the music louder on my Nintendo 3DS, because maximum volume is simply not loud enough to enjoy this superb sound track. I kid you not, these jams are gnarly.
In closing 80’s Overdrive is a fun yet flawed game. I enjoyed my time with this game and I can mildly recommend it. The gameplay has a surprising amount of depth and the music is excellent. Sadly the level design could have been more compelling and the track editor is lack luster. Old school racing fans should rejoice with this release and find many hours of entertainment with this choice game.
Final Verdict: 7/10