Slipstream Review: Retro Done Right
Updated: May 6, 2022
QTB Network partner Chris J. makes the retro rubber meet the road with his review of ansdor's console release of Slipstream.
"(Slipstream) evoked my memories of endlessly shoving quarters into the arcade machine."
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC
Ever wonder what a spiritual successor to the arcade and Sega Master System Classic Outrun would look like today? Well solo developer ansdor did! Slipstream is a retro in almost every way racing game originally released on PC in May of 2018 and now power slides into consoles in April 2022. It's a tiny game compared to games of today but would be rather large for the era in which it's inspired, clocking in at 928.3 MB.
If you have not figured it out by now, this is a racing game. Rather than going around a particular loop, you're racing from point A to point B. There's an impressive amount of game modes including:
Grand Tour – AKA the spiritual successor to OutRun mode. In this mode, you're racing against the clock AND your rivals while dodging traffic. The interesting part is even though you could lose a race against a rival, you can still make it to the next stage. Each stage is chosen by you at the end of the previous stage like exits on a highway, which adds some replay value!
Single Race – Your basic race from point A to B. I didn't play this mode as there were some more interesting modes!
Grand Prix – This is a race mode that allows you to upgrade your car with any earnings between the 5 races.
Cannonball – Similar to the Grand Tour mode but this allows you to customize settings such as the number of racers, tracks, traffic density, and even enabling rivals.
Time Trial – Race against yourself in a 3-lap race.
Battle Royale – Race against either a total of 4, 8, 12, or 16 drivers. Whoever is in last place gets eliminated until there's only 1 left.
Of the modes, I most enjoyed the Grand Prix mode. I was able to customize my car to get better performance out of it by dumping my race earnings on top speed, acceleration, and handling.
Slipstream knows exactly what it wants to be visually, and what you see is definitely what you get.
Can we talk about how this game looks and sounds? Because my goodness was this a treat! The cars and tracks look like they were ripped straight out from the early 90s. I loved the sense of speed this game gave me. And when you used the aforementioned "Slipstream" mechanic to gain that precious ground on your opponent, the rush of noise and the action lines that came with it just put a big grin on my face. The music was, *chef's kiss*, everything I'd want in this style of game. Both of these combined evoked my memories of endlessly shoving quarters into the arcade machine.
A nice touch was adding the ability to slow down the game for us old-timers who might not be as quick with the thumbsticks as they once were. The drifting, which there is a lot of, reminded me of Mario Kart and Ridge Racer with how easy it was to initiate. But just as easy as it is to initiate a drift, take a turn too late and your car will take a tumble. Thankfully, and as I hinted at earlier, this game does have a rewind feature a la Forza style. The caveat is that you have to refill the rewind meter and it's for a maximum of 5 seconds. If you happen to tap the rewind button (which I did a lot, unfortunately) you will lose that option and have to wait for the meter to replenish itself. Oh, and of course, the rewind effect has a VCR rewind, so rad man. The rival system was neat in that during a race you'll see some cars with a floating pixel head who will taunt you throughout the race. The game ran buttery smooth on my Series X. Load times were nonexistent and kept me in the game.
Track choices at the end of races provide some much-needed variety in an otherwise linear experience.
Like those games of the past, this game is NOT easy. Even on the easy mode, the races were not a stroll in the park. What amplifies this even more for me is that I felt the collision detection was arbitrary. Sometimes I can whack my car against multiple trees and lose speed while other times my car decides to be a gymnast and do a somersault and of course lose speed. Any slip up and the AI just pounces all over you. But once you get a few drifts to connect, man does the game feel really good. The car lineup is also pretty sparse, with a total of 5 unlicensed cars. But any gearhead can probably pick up what the developer was putting down with these cars. I wish there was a little more customization, let me change the color of my car at least!
There is local split-screen multiplayer which again calls back to that retro feel of the game (which I didn't get a chance to try out). I would say it could be neat if there was online but who am I kidding, I know if I can't beat these AI opponents I sure as heck don't have a chance of beating Lil' Johnny on the interwebs!
Overall, would I keep playing this game? A game under 1GB and makes me relive my times with this style of racing game? Heck yeah! I highly recommend taking Slipstream for a spin.
Want to hear more reviews of Xbox games? Join Tom and Chris every week as they play one random game from Xbox Game Pass for one hour, and let you know if it is worth your time!
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