In the day and age where racing games like Forza Motorsport make up the norm of the genre, it can be easy to forget the games that preceded the era. 80’s Overdrive attempts to be a game that remembers way back when. It’s also a good reminder that the Nintendo 3DS still has plenty of life left despite of all the attention and glory the Switch has been hogging.
The first thing you’ll notice about 80’s Overdrive is how extremely colorful and retro the graphics are. I fell in love with the look of this game as soon as I saw its initial trailers from last year. Finally getting to see it in motion firsthand on my 3DS is quite the spectacle. The Mode-7-style perspective is a faithful nod to the racers of yesteryear, and the visual themes the courses use have plenty of eye-catching details to gawk at.
Before or during a race, you can change the music to one of many tracks you can choose from a list. They all seem to be the type of music, though; there isn’t anything I wouldn’t identify as electronic techno/dance tracks. It’s not a bad selection; I think I just prefer a selection that’s more like what Cruis’n USA had to offer.
If you’ve played titles like OutRun or Rad Racer before, you’ll know what to expect from 80’s Overdrive. The basic objective is to speed down the road all the way to the end while avoiding traffic, other racers, and losing control from sharp turns. You can take on tons of levels via the career mode, race within the time attack mode, or set up a race of your own in the level editor. At first, it seems easy to simply accelerate and turn when needed. However, the game challenges in ways that I didn’t even think would be too effective. Yet, there are factors that play into your in-game financial survival.
Money is needed to upgrade your car and enter races; finishing in at least 3rd place nets you cash, but obviously 1st place must be achieved to unlock more levels (although the game sometimes likes to throw in bonus mission objectives that reward with money). Each level has varying quantities of the same features, but they determine how difficult it may be to trek through it. Whether there’s more traffic than usual, a less lenient road, or AI that isn’t willing to back down, 80’s Overdrive is bound to test the player in some fashion. In that regard, it works really well; as intense as things could get, I had a lot of fun outpacing opponents and gathering cash. It’s a risk-and-reward system that requires skill for players to reap its benefits, and it works well as a result. If anything, the AI could be a little too stubborn; one wrong move can prove to be detrimental if you aren’t capable of bouncing back in the race.
If you’re up for the challenge, though, 80’s Overdrive is sure to keep you occupied for a good amount of hours. It’s a successful throwback to the games that clearly inspired it, and I recommend it to those that have yet to neglect their six-year-old Nintendo handhelds.