Speed Master is a one button racing game that sees you either against the clock or against other players in the daily race. The lo-poly vibe suits its easy to pick up but hard to master gameplay but there are a few quirks that irked me the longer I played.
Your button presses control the acceleration in Speed Master. Playing like a slot car game, you’ll auto steer around corners but if you are going to fast, at first you’ll skid a bit but then you’ll just spin off the track. Pressing nothing at all slows you down to a halt and you’ll be modulating the throttle on banked curves and loops as you take on various stunt track pieces. The key here is that many of the tracks contain jumps and once in the air you need to fiddle with the throttle to keep the car upright. Floor it and you’ll forward flip. Let go and you’ll backflip. Landing and getting the right angle to not damage your car not only helps you stay in the game but reduces the time it takes to complete a level. Jumps become a huge part of Speed Master and you’ll find they make and break almost every run you do as the rest of the tracks can be easily navigated with a little bit of caution.
Speed Master has two distinct halves to its game. The single player campaign has 30 tracks laid out like stunt slot car tracks to survive. Each one has three stars. One for clearing the track, one for not getting much damage and one for clearing it under a set time. The bar to unlocking the next track is set very high and you’ll need to collect around 80% of stars to progress. Time stars are the crux here and this brings me back to jumping. All too often its the jumps that ruin a run and slow you down, but they’ll damage you too even if you land semi well. At around level 15 I was struggling to get more stars to progress and the single player campaign quickly switched from a challenge to a slog. I genuinely think most players will never finish the single player mode because the barrier to unlocking new tracks is too high.
The circuit mode can be played 1-4 players locally (splitscreen) or taken online. There are 12 tracks and a race is 2 laps long. This is more fun but the 12 track limit makes tracks feel stale fast. Online has them rotating each day for an online leaderboard and tournament. It was here where I spent most of my time, propping up the lower end of the timesheet because… the jumps just weren’t clicking for me. Speed Master downloads ghosts of other players but they rarely struggle with the jumps. It was making me wonder if I was doing something wrong but every time I play, I end up struggling to get the jumps to feel right or land smoothly. Online is fun but again that 12 track limit comes around fast when a track is 20 seconds long.
There are some nice ideas here but the game is lacking a nice jump feature or longevity for racing. It seems approachable and too difficult at the same time so I’m not really sure who will enjoy this beyond the time trial/hot lap racing crowd. A curio that a few patches could really improve, but for now its a very narrow recommendation.
Some decent ideas and limited splitscreen multiplayer is let down by some awful jump mechanics and an odd split of content between modes.
Up to 4 player splitscreen racing works nicely.
Online ghost races are competitive and addictive as you search for improvements.
Easy to pick up initially...
... but the jump mechanics are wildly inconsistent and confusing.
Odd split of content between single player stunt tracks and raceable circuits.
Gets stale quite quickly.
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