Give me a racer and I’m like a pig in muck. Whether that’s a simulation affair, an arcade apex-clipper, top-down or the like, if it involves the racing of cars, interest is high.
It’s an interest which has come out of the arcade racers of yesteryear; games like Super Cars 2, like Super Off Road and more; slowly and surely continuing to build with every release. In fact, I like games that come with ‘Super’ in the title.
But Super Woden GP struggles to keep that interest high. In fact, it struggles with a lot of what is on offer. This one just isn’t super.
Coming from the Vijuda and Eastasiasoft teams, Super Woden GP is an isometric racer; one that has been inspired by those games that many of us grew up with. Dropping the player behind the wheel of a multitude of cars, leaving them to race until they can race no more, earning cash, buying new cars, earning more cash and running a loop, on the face of it Super Woden GP should be great.
But there are issues with it, most notably found in the poor vehicle handling, grind required for progress and strange implementation of the UI. The utterly abysmal soundtrack helps not a jot.
Your main – and pretty much only – goal in Super Woden GP is to rise through the racing ranks. You’ll come to the scene green, little cash in hand and a garage bereft of cars. Purchasing your first one will let you enter a lowly category of races and from there the aim is to do well, cross finish lines before others, take home the winnings and progress yourself through the racing scene.
It’s a simple process but pretty much everything in Super Woden GP tries to make it hard to action.
We’ll start with the ‘World Map’, mostly as it is a disastrous way of pushing you from the customizable ‘Free Race’ over to the main events, all via a number of different car manufacturers from where you can purchase your cars. Set out as a load of tiles that barely interconnect, it’s a clunky old affair to move from where you are on this ‘World Map’ to where you want to be.
You’ll find yourself passing through such fun tiles as Paint Shop (as simple as you can imagine), Car Wash (Why!?), a stats screen, Music Room (oh, how we hate ALL the music) and more. It’s not that it’s a particularly big ‘Map’ – and we use that map term loosely – but it’s just an absolute ballache to move through. All you’ll really want to do is head to ‘Go Race’ and get on with it.
The problem is, heading to that race then opens up more options. ‘Weekend’ is a single event, either one or more rounds, placing you on the starting grid and leaving you to cross the fingers as you hunt glory. ‘WGP Championships’ meanwhile builds on that, offering up full championships, whilst unlockable ‘Endurance’ and the time trial-a-like ‘Rally’ events build the roster some more. Place in top spot, second or third through any event and you’ll gain stars which unlock further events. There’s a fair amount to work through too and in that aspect, Super Woden GP excels.
Basically you’ll want to pick out your event of choice and jump in, provided you have a car that doesn’t exceed the class limit or any other restrictions. If you do find you come to race in a vehicle that doesn’t fit the race entry requirements, you’ll be left traipsing back to that World Map again, on the hunt for one that does fit.
Granted, that’s something that pretty much all racers have done over the years, and we’d not want to cheat ourselves by using a car too powerful for an event, but it’s just the backwards and forwards nature of Super Woden GP which grates, moving through tiles and menus in hope of stumbling upon the one we want.
There are a ton of events on offer though and we cannot complain with the sheer amount of races that Super Woden GP is offering up through the Weekend, the Championships, the Endurance or Rally events. Some of them can be fun too, especially those that take place on well designed circuits. But that then gets us onto other problems.
See, racing itself is a bit of a struggle. Running on ‘Normal’ game mode – the one in which players can see times posted to leaderboards – pretty much every single race boils down to the player nailing the throttle on the straights, overtaking the vast majority of the field as they do so, before coming to a corner, skidding out and smashing into a barrier; all as that field comes streaming back through.
We’ve thrown a good few hours into Super Woden GP but still cannot get the hang of the handling, no matter what car and what grip, power or handling levels we have under our foot. It’s a racer that is so finicky, so twitchy, that it rarely allows for fun.
Much of that isn’t helped by the close camera either and we’d die for Eastasiasoft to have pushed the development team to widen the view a little, to zoom out so we can see what is coming. Instead, it’s just a case of giving it all the power in the world, before slamming on the brakes as a corner warning pops up, hoping to get somewhere near hitting the apex as we do; spoiler alert: you won’t get near an apex in Super Woden GP. Worse still is the fact that the camera swings around like it’s had five pints, no matter whether you switch ‘free camera’ on or off. Drinking and driving should always be frowned upon.
It’s further not helped by the visual look. We quite like the cars, even if they don’t come from any real-world manufacturer, but the rest of Super Woden GP is a struggle. There’s certainly an ‘artstyle’ utilised here, but we’re not sure what it is called aside from ‘slap a brush down and see what happens’. Perhaps that’s being a little unkind, but whilst it’s something that we can easily overlook in the menus and wotnot, when you find tracks that are difficult to judge, barriers, walls, bridges and more melding into the racetrack, it’s not particularly helpful.
And then we get to that soundtrack. Honestly, the best thing you can do with the music of Super Woden GP is to navigate your way to the options menu (again in that ‘World Map’) and switch it off as soon as you can. A mix of weird chiptune and old-school 90s mashing, even though there are some thirty tunes from Frankikku and DJ Devito included, we’re not sure old Danny would want his name associated with any one of them.
Super Woden GP, then. It’s not the best racer in the world, but that’s not just because of the on-track action. Feeling like a bit of a grind and hugely frustrating, we’ll instead applaud the sheer number and variety of races included in Super Woden GP. Occasionally a tense race can be had too, but for the most part this is a little indie racer you’ll be best off leaving on the starting grid.
Super Woden GP is on the Xbox Store
- Plenty of events to take part in
- Tons of cars too
- Not particularly fun whilst on the track
- UI is a mess
- And that soundtrack is terrible
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 9 November 2022
- Launch price from - £9.99