Retro Highway (Review)

Nov 13, 2021

Developed by: Gearhead Games
Published by: Gearhead Games
Released: November 11, 2021 (Nintendo Switch)

Imagine Super Hang On crossed with Jetpack Joyride and Retro Highway by Gearhead Games is born. A straightforward endless racer that scratches both nostalgic and speed cravings. Retro Highway is easy to pick-up casual game that pulls players in for “one more” try after every attempt.

Gameplay

The endless runner and Jetpack Joyride comparisons are appropriate. Acceleration is automatic. Braking is nonexistent. Players dodge cars, take jumps, and pick up coins and power-ups. Like Joyride, success is measured in the distance traveled. Challenges provide additional coins and consequently create gameplay focus. Coins unlock new motorcycles and successful challenges unlock new levels.

Controls

Each new level adds variety of obstacles and additional coins. As motorcycles get faster and obstacles increase, responsive controls are essential. Fortunately, Retro Highway delivers. Weaving in and out of traffic is responsive and satisfying. The switch from touch screen control to joy-cons feels natural. The controls result in Retro Highway feeling like a classic 16-bit racer more than a mobile port.

Graphics

The retro pixel graphics create the 16-bit arcade feel. Fortunately, the draw distance is long and provides planning for on-coming traffic. The Nintendo Switch version runs at 60 frames per minute. Resulting in a smooth gameplay experience. The various maps create some visual change, but the focus remains on the road.

Paid Mobile Port?

Retro Highway was available on iOS and Android, last month it released on Xbox and now it releases on Nintendo Switch. Its origin on mobile is clear, but the $5.99 console version removes the ads and provides control with the analog stick. The addition of the controller creates a more responsive game and matches the classic arcade feeling. Challenges no longer are skippable through ads. Furthermore, the removal of data sharing included in the mobile version should not be undersold. Retro Highway makes skipping challenges free, but puts them on a timer. Consequently, skipping a challenge activates a 15 minute cooldown timer.

Life is a Retro Highway

Retro Highway is not trying to be more than it is. But the mileage of the price tag will vary depending on your fondness for 1980’s and 90’s arcade racers. The graphics and gameplay are accessible and simple, yet addicting. The quick play sessions are a great match for the portability of the Switch. Retro Highway is simply fun.

Score: 7.5

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