Review – 80’s Overdrive

It’s pretty rare to see a new game coming out for the 3DS these days, so we have to embrace pretty much anything that’s offered to us 3DS owners. Be it a collection of Kirby minigames or spiritual successors to older IPs that, for some reasons, are developed exclusively for the dying portable. That’s the case with 80’s Overdrive, a retro-styled arcade racer released just a couple of months ago for the system. It’s a decent racer, but devoid of anything wow-inducing to make it stand out.

You’re so gonna crash

As you can see by the pictures, 80’s Overdrive‘s main source of influence is clearly Sega’s OutRun. It plays just like the older title, with that same feeling of not caring the slightest about actual physics. Cars go over 200mph and still managing to do perfect turns without an issue. There’s little to say about 80’s Overdrive‘s gameplay that hasn’t been said over the past 30 years, it’s as straightforward and similar to its sources of inspirations as legally possible, and it works best when it feels like a carbon copy of OutRun. Things start to go south as soon as you notice how the game’s innovations are actually not that good and act more as hindrances than interesting additions.

First of all, it might sound weird, but the game’s overall aesthetic isn’t very engaging. We’re currently living a massive 80’s revival, and 80’s Overdrive just goes overboard by including every single cliché from that decade in one single game. DeLoreans? Check. Synthpop? Check. Character avatars based on Mr. T, glam metal rockers and Madonna? Check. Nods to Miami Vice? Check. Power Glove? Check, check and check.

Next, there’s the issue regarding the gameplay. While the overall controls are identical to OutRun, the game features a terrible rubber-banding mechanic whenever your car hits pretty much anything. Your poor vehicle will go haywire and start acting more like a pinball than a sports vehicle. Not only will you lose a lot of momentum in the process, but your car will also suffer damage. The only way to fix it is by spending cash at the end of each race, but given the fact repairs are expensive, plus the annoying fact you need to buy gas at the end of each race, most of your career earnings will be spent on fuel and repairs. Don’t even think about buying new cars: they are extremely expensive and you’ll never be able to afford them. Upgrading your initial ride is a much more recommended solution, even if that makes the game’s entire progression system a lot more frustrating.

Finally, something must be said about the game’s “track creator.” I use this term loosely as it acts more like a random track generator than an actual editor. All you can do here is tell the game how sharp you want your corners to be, how much traffic will be thrown into the race, and which background you want, as there is little else you can do in order to customize your own tracks. You can’t even race at night, for instance.

Nostalgic much?

In the end, 80’s Overdrive is, at best, an okay attempt to bring back the fun gameplay from older arcade titles like OutRun, but it never manages to surpass its source of inspiration, nor it manages to wow players in any moment. It’s just a passable racing title, something to keep your 3DS busy during its last months of relevance.

Graphics: 7.5

The game’s best aspect; it perfectly emulates the graphical style of OutRun, though without night drives.

Gameplay: 7.0

It controls just like OutRun, with the unfortunate addition of featuring severe rubber banding.

Sound: 6.5

A very 80’s-ish soundtrack coupled with very poor sound effects and nothing else.

Fun Factor: 5.5

The game knows how to emulate the fun and vibe from older racing titles, but its cheap difficulty and unfair economy are beyond annoying.

Final Verdict: 6.5