As if you wouldn’t be able to guess from the title, 80’s Overdrive absolutely screams 1980s. It screams pure, unadulterated arcade racing. It screams speed. It screams for you to play it over and over, again and again.
80’s Overdrive probably isn’t the best 1980’s inspired arcade racer on the market. And you’ll probably find yourself reaching the end of it before you really get going. Yet for those few hours of pure arcade racing that it delivers, 80’s Overdrive is a huge amount of fun. Super addictive fun.
The Career mode is the meat and drink of what is on offer. It has you dropping into a street racing scene as a lowly newcomer, tasked with proving yourself over a number of races. Gathering up podium spots ensures you can move on to the next race, but winning is where the main goal sits, earning enough crowns to slowly and surely move up the leaderboard until you’re seen as the ultimate 80’s Overdrive racer.
It’s a fun career, taking you across the mountains, through the city streets and along the beachside, with multiple races of varying lengths. A nice touch is that before taking part in a race – and buying in with your precious earned cash – you’ll be able to see the length of any race, the opponent you’ll find yourself up against, the density of other traffic users and whether the police are on duty that day – and if so, how many will be out in force.
It’s probably the prize money you’ll mostly be interested in though as this then lets you purchase and upgrade faster cars, ensuring you can stand on that top spot all the quicker.
There are six cars in all, all with varying engine, steering and bumper stats. Upgrading each of these is key to your success in 80’s Overdrive, as is a purchase of a two-use nitro system and police radar. We’re not totally sure the radar is of any use as rarely will you outrun the police, instead just dodging them, but the nitros are a godsend, particularly as opponent skill levels rise.
The thing is, you can’t just go splashing the cash you have willy-nilly. Every race requires a buy-in, whilst damage needs to be repaired and fuel needs to be purchased and pumped in to ensure you can continue running. In the early stages there’s a fine line between upgrading, buying new cars and keeping yourself on the road; something which is negated much more as progress and success is found – even more once you start being given huge cash sums by rogue racers in order to ‘throw a race’ or put paid to that of a fellow competitor.
No matter what the race though, pretty much each and every one in 80’s Overdrive plays similarly to the next. This is proper old school arcade racing, with backgrounds moving as you speed along the twisting roads. Keeping your foot on the throttle is very much the case here, so much so that we’ve completed the game with hardly any use of a brake. If you can dodge cars and have decent reflexes – and can forgo a blink or two once the action really ramps – you’ll be good to go in 80’s Overdrive.
There’s rarely any lag either, and hardly a touch of slowdown. However it must be noted that occasionally it feels like things are stuttering for micro-seconds, mostly as multiple twists to the track take place. It’s far from a game-breaker though.
Finding success in the Career will give you the best chance of competing in the accompanying Time Attack more. This is pure Outrun, throwing you behind the wheel of your favourite – fastest – car and leaving you be, as you see how far you can travel. Junctions allow splits and so you can move down various pathways as you see fit.
Whilst it’s a nice addition, and something that is absolutely at home with this racer, it’s not as appealing as the main Career; a little side note that is worthy of a glance every now and then.
There is also a Level editor included in 80’s Overdrive and whilst it works as intended, letting you dictate how stages should play it, ultimately it will probably be something you drop into in order to pick up the Xbox achievements that are attached to it, and then forget it ever existed. Having share codes included is a nice touch, but it’s certainly not the main focus of what makes 80’s Overdrive tick.
However you’re playing 80’s Overdrive, it all looks the part, screaming 1980s. The visuals are very much of the era but work well in this setting, but they are complemented brilliantly with eighteen cracking tunes. Honestly, flicking through these with your triggers as you race will really aid with the immersion, all as you head back in time to when the arcade racer was king.
What is strange then is the fact that this old skool racer just feels a tad too easy to play. Aside for a couple of levels which shall remain nameless – you’ll understand why when you play – we’ve flown through what 80’s Overdrive has to offer, wishing that the career was at least double the length of the near-forty tracks that it holds. We’d not say that the difficulty needs to be dialled up, as there have definitely been times we’ve been hanging on for dear life, begging the finish line to move into view, but we’d have loved more of what it provides; at least in terms of career, unlockable cars and upgrades.
That doesn’t detract too much though from what 80’s Overdrive is – a fun little old skool racer that knows how to deliver a sense of speed and flow. Perhaps the career is a bit short and those bits that complement it don’t quite hit the mark, but 80’s Overdrive is an arcade racer that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
80’s Overdrive is available from the Xbox Store