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Top Racer Collection

Developer: QUByte Interactive

Competititve Mutliplayer
  • Price: $19.99
  • Release Date: Mar 7, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1 - 2
  • Last on Sale: -
  • Lowest Historic Price: -
  • ESRB Rating: E [Everyone]
  • Watch this review on YouTube
    While I don’t doubt fans of these SNES racers will enjoy seeing them again, to anyone else they’re likely a mess

    Going back to game collections from previous eras is typically a tricky proposition. Whether the look, feel, general vibe, or all of the above have dated poorly is always a risk. Usually when I think of going back to games in the SNES era, I give the chances for the titles holding up some hope since they don’t look as primitive as 8-bit titles, but are also not full of chunky polygons and low-quality textures. That said, not everything from that era holds up well these days, though you could argue that perhaps at the time they weren’t the best in class either. That’s how I feel walking away from the Top Racer Collection.

    This trio of titles coming from the 16-bit era, along with a bonus fourth, are ones I’m less familiar with than some of their contemporaries. That said, I have no doubt that there are those that must have vibed with them then, given the fact that multiple games were made for it within that generation, and I’m sure those same people would love to return to them now. In order to sweeten the deal some value-added features have been injected into the mix, including some leaderboards, new modes, and even some online multiplayer support (bearing in mind how fleeting the benefit of that can often be, sadly, regardless of the game).

    I do remember renting Top Racer 3000 once or twice, trying to get into the groove, but never found that it agreed with me. Now, playing it so many decades later, I’m at least able to better articulate my issues with it. Most of my concerns revolve around the nature of the game’s visuals, but not in the way that nitpicks the older-school pixel art or anything that petty. First, I find the camera angle to be a bit low, generally making seeing the layout of the track and enemy cars on it harder to see in advance. Second, the more primitive way your opponents are represented, looking pretty flat visually and just getting larger as they get closer, can make their distance tougher to judge… and this is exacerbated quite a bit by the low camera angle. Third, as you get up to higher speeds the game struggles to keep up, with enemy cars feeling like they’re almost blinking past you in a few still frames. This can make success feel more like a matter of luck than skill at times. Fourth, how and why the base control scheme was implemented this way is baffling, with the accelerator mapped to the X button of all things. Last, even among the many racing games I’ve played over the years, I’d consider the opponents’ driving patterns to be weirdly and a bit annoyingly erratic. More often than not, even in packs, they just seem to meander and work more to be in your way than doing anything that resembles driving to win.

    The value proposition here, especially considering how many solid racers there are on Switch that have a retro feel but more modern performance, feels like a very narrow one. If you’ve always been a fan of these titles, an opportunity to enjoy them once again on a modern system is no doubt compelling… and to the credit of the people putting this together they’ve done more than just churn out a bare bones port of the games with minimal additional work. That said, if you’re either unfamiliar or weren’t sold on these games back in the day they’re very much a product of their time, and have some unsurprising warts that remain authentically in place as they were originally. Depending on your connection to the originals, I think the consensus on this one will vary pretty wildly.

    Justin Nation, Score:
    Fair [6.4]

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