Super Pixel Racers Switch Review – A Top Down Racer as Fun as the Classics

I do love a good top down racer and the Switch already has two good examples but neither of them are a throwback to amazing retro action; enter Super Pixel Racers a retro styled racer previously released on other consoles that has finally made its way to the Switch courtesy of publishers H2 Interactive. The first thing you’ll notice here are the fantastic pixel graphics with its huge pixels and jagged edges. These might be a bit marmite but personally I love the unique art style and didn’t think I’d see a pixel art style that does stand out from the crowd of retro inspired games, it reminds me of a cleaner looking Super Skidmarks that’s been upscaled but also uses a lower default resolution.

Going to need a photo finish here.

The gameplay is not what I was expecting going in as cars handle a bit like they are trying to pivot on the spot, though I actually love it as again it’s a lot like Super Skidmarks on the Amiga and Mega Drive, we’re just missing the racing cow. The big difference here is Super Pixel Racers has auto acceleration, a handbrake turn drift and nitro boost earnt by drifting. So you drift into a bend and boost out again. It might sound a bit mobile-esque with the auto acceleration but trust me Super Pixel Racers is a ride worth taking as precision is key, stray slightly off track and it’s like hitting the brakes, hit the barriers and you’ve pretty much come to a stop losing valuable seconds in the minute long races.

It is very easy to get stuck on awkward cones on the inside of corners.

At the start the cars are so slow you might mistake them for grandpas riding turtles but a few upgrades later and you’ll be struggling to tame the bucking bronco as it skids violently across the track and into the wall. They all handle like they’re on ice but that’s part of the drifting fun just like Super Skidmarks and Micro Machines. You’ll soon be drifting into and wildly boosting out of almost every corner.

You might also blow up and need to repair your car a few times.

The main mode is career mode which has you completing a series of events in leagues and cups, the leagues have many single events and the cups have short championships. Finish in the top 3 to progress through the leagues and win all the events to unlock the cups. There’s A,B and C class leagues with + versions on reverse tracks, combined with the cups Super Pixel Racers has over 200 events to complete.

With mock real world tracks such as Sepang, Monza Silverstone.

In each class you have 3/4 selectable cars. You get a standard car and can buy a high accelerating, fast handling but slow car and a heavy handling, slow accelerating car with a huge top speed. All of which can have top speed, acceleration, nitro and durability upgradable 10 times. Upgrades are an absolute necessity but I haven’t had to grind for money so far however I have completed everything on offer up to my current A Class league and it’s been tough. Super Pixel Racers starts super easy even when I cranked the difficulty up to S (the hardest) but as soon as I hit the C+ league it was insane with some uber close pixeltastic racing action, so it took me awhile to win the races added to S difficulty earning more money and no actual grinding needed, though I only have enough money for a quick try of the various cars before deciding to go with the high top speed one each time.

Being punted out the way and losing 3 places on a corner is commonplace here.

The different types of events keep the action nice and varied as you have a few pretty standard types including race, time trial, takedown, drift, land rush which is a race to get to and stay in first on World Rally Championship arcade game from the 90s style procedurally generated tracks and finally rally events which is a checkpoint time trial on the procedurally generated track.

Wreckin’ racing.

Other modes include free race in which you pick any car, track, and difficulty for a single race with the option to have cars half or fully upgraded, a great way to try out cats before deciding which to turn into the ultimate beast in career mode. There’s also split screen multiplayer for up to 4 players and online multiplayer for up to 8 players with a separate progression system from career where you level up in races earning better cars, all of which seem to start fully upgraded. Though online is very random as you go in a random lobby on random tracks with random weather and no options. It played smoothly when I got to have a go and is something I’ll be playing for weeks to come. Plus you can play single player while waiting for someone to join online which will help massively in being able to get games in.

I won the second race by so far I couldn’t get a good screenshot, instead settling for a shameful defeat.

I absolutely love the huge pixel but clean graphics of Super Pixel Racers making it look extremely retro and visually distinctive. The soundtrack is also a fantastic retro joy to your ears and you might find yourself humming along to tunes that could have easily been in Top Gear or Lotus Turbo Challenge.

Well that couldn’t be much closer.

There is however currently a major bug in cup progress where you randomly lose all your progress in the cups but crucially not the leagues. The cups are still fun and by far the most challenging part of the game plus they pay out the most money. Even within the cups there’s an annoying bug where if a driver that usually comes lower down finishes in the top 2 AI positions they don’t get the result, instead the points are given to the 2 best AI as if they came 1st and 2nd of the AI, this sounds minor but when it’s so hard to win the cups it can be very aggravating. Sometimes it will give maximum points to one AI meaning it gets points for 1st or 2nd every race, when this happened I had to keep restarting a race after finishing 2nd even though I was beating them every time otherwise I would lose the cup because of it. Hopefully these bugs will be patched very quickly.

Boom! And I drive away to victory.

Despite the progress bug I have loved my time with Super Pixel Racers winning all the events and then the cups are extraordinarily hard giving a decent life span, it will easily take 15 hours to complete single player. The gameplay is extremely challenging as you barrel your pixeltastic cars through tight spaces at over 100mph and with such quick races Super Pixel Racers really does have a “just one more” vibe, my first session accidentally went on for over an hour longer than it was meant to. I can happily recommend Super Pixel Racers to anyone that likes old school top down racers as you’ll be in for a treat. I’d go as far as saying Super Pixel Racers is in my top 3 of top down racers over the last 20 years not actually being any worse than the other ones, just different.

A huge thank you to H2 Interactive for providing the review code. Super Pixel Racers is available now on the Nintendo eShop for £11.69/€12.99/$14.99 with a 10% launch sale for those in America.

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