90’s arcade racing nostalgia has had a resurgence of late and I’m not complaining! Taking the chunky polygons of arcade coin-ops and making them gleam in HD 60fps modern day beauties makes me smile. The slight caution is that I’ve found some of these games have nailed the look perfectly but then dropped the ball of the gameplay. Welcome to Formula Bit Racing.
Created from a solo developer, Formula Bit Racing is a budget title at £3.99 and offers 20 tracks for you to race around using three distinctive view points. The view points are classic top down mode, isometric mode and behind the car mode and all three nod to classic games. It is one of the best things about Formula Bit Racing as you can switch on the fly if you want a Mansell, Senna or Nakajima experience. I fear only old gamers like me will get those references! The views also show off the low poly but well made graphic set up too. It isn’t as detailed or flashy as Hotshot Racing or Formula Retro Racing but then its less than half the price.
When it comes to the gameplay though, here is where things go wrong.
Each car you pick from has stats on speed, boost, turn and drift. You don’t drift in the game so that becomes utterly unimportant. Why don’t you drift? It is because all the tracks are made up of 90 degree corners that sometimes form 180 degree hairpins. The hairpins are rare and you can take them without drifting. The next issue is that you have a recharging boost… but your 5 AI opponents do not. This stacks the entire game in your favour and makes medium difficulty an absolute cake walk. I won every race on my first attempt. I stepped up to hard mode and lost two races out of the twenty tracks – coming second twice. Those losses came from some wonky collision detection with curbs randomly halting you. It didn’t happen on the same curb twice either so it felt like the collision detection was slightly off.
This complete lack of challenge, especially if you pick a high speed car, makes the game feel hollow and empty. Add to that the curb collision issue, the 25 second musical loop and that all races are over in under two minutes and you’ll find the experience lasts just about an hour maximum. There is no multiplayer mode. There are no hotlaps or time trials. It is very minimal in its set up and modes. Ultimately, it is a large disappointment. It is a shame as the cars actually handle really nicely. They stick to the ground and are responsive – so much so that the turn stat doesn’t matter very much either. See my point? It feels empty.
If some challenge could be added, perhaps splitscreen and/or a track editor too – then there would be longevity and reason to recommend Formula Bit Racing. Without that though, its just some pretty window dressing full of empty calories.
Formula Bit Racing
A lovely coat of low-poly polish that hides an empty shell of a game underneath.
Cars handle responsively like a cute arcade racer.
Collision detection issues with curbs which seem random.
Frame drops and post-boost slow down or stoppages.
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