80’s Overdrive (Switch)

Father’s Day is coming up, and sometimes around now I think about the video games my dad likes to play.  While he currently mostly plays casual games on his iPad, back when I was a kid, he played a lot of racing games in the arcade.  I remember sitting in his lap in the sit-down racing arcade cabinets to play hits like Pole Position and Turbo.  Years later when I was too big to sit in his lap, he still played arcade racers like OutRun and Ridge Racer.  And one of the few games I could get him to play on the NES was Rad Racer!  So when I saw 80’s Overdrive on the Switch, it made me think of him.  80’s Overdrive is a retro inspired pixel racer that plays similarly to OutRun.

There are three main modes in the game.  The first is Career Mode.  Here you start out with some money to buy a car. Then you race on tracks to earn more cash so you can upgrade your car or buy new ones.  You’ll earn more money the higher you place, and you can spend your money to buy upgrades like a better engine for top speed, steering for better handling, and bumpers to take less damage and slow down less when you get hit.  You can also buy things for each car like nitro boosts and a police radar.  But you’ll want to keep a wad of cash always on hand because you also have to spend money on repairs if you get hit, and gas so you have enough fuel to race.

Tracks are just point A to point B affairs, no laps or anything.  Sometimes you can earn extra money on a track if someone requests that you collect certain items on the road while racing.  These items you collect are 80’s icons like VHS tapes and such.  On some tracks the police will chase you and pull out in front of you and cut you off so you must avoid them or be faster than them.  If you bump into cars or obstacles on the side of the road, you’ll take damage.  If you take too much damage, your car will stop and you won’t be able to complete the race.  You do NOT want that to happen because it takes a lot of money to repair your car when that occurs, and if you run out of money you’ll have to start at the first races to build yourself back up.  If you have no money whatsoever, you can earn 50 bucks a pop by washing cars in a minigame.  You can even use the touch screen on the Switch to play it if it’s in handheld mode.  But yeah this part of the game really bogs down Career Mode, and it doesn’t help that things start slowly with basic tracks and slow cars initially.

The next mode is Time Attack, but I think they should’ve called it Arcade Mode instead because it plays most like OutRun.  Here you have a timer to get to a checkpoint, and when you do you can choose a different path to race on where the scenery changes.  And you do this until you run out of time.  One neat thing is that if you drive very close to traffic, you can add a second or two to your timer.  But the bad thing is that you use the same cars that you have in Career Mode, so if you haven’t upgraded them very much, you won’t get too far here either.

The last mode is kind of neat.  You can create your own tracks in Edit Mode!  Now, you can’t fully design a track, but you can choose how many lanes and how long the race will be, as well as frequency of turns, hills, and traffic.  Then you can save your edits and trade with others via codes.  So yeah, kind of a neat addition that I haven’t seen in a game like this before.

Even though this game uses pixels and sprite scaling, the framerate is very smooth and the scaling isn’t choppy or blocky at all.  Play control is also solid and responsive and plays like how you’d expect, maybe better.  Like OutRun, before a race you can pick a song to play in the background via the radio on your dashboard, but you can also change the music on the fly during a race as well.  There are dozens of songs to choose from, and while many sound like generic elevator style music, they all have an 80’s vibe to them so I liked them anyway.  80’s music is one of my guilty pleasures.  Aside from the problems and speedbumps I had in Career Mode, the only other thing this game could’ve used is a split screen multiplayer mode or something.  But other than that, this is one of those games that is more fun than what it should be.  I really enjoyed it anyway, but then, I was a child of the 80’s so it could be some nostalgia talking.

Kid Factor:

If you bump into cars or obstacles, your car will stop, move from side to side, or have smoke or parts fall out, but that’s about as violent as it gets.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the menu text.  80’s Overdrive is rated E for Everyone.

One Response to “80’s Overdrive (Switch)”

  1. I love the graphics.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!