Slipstream Review for switch, PlayStation and Xbox
Racing games in the 80s/90s had an exciting magic of uncompromising adventure, something that was lost with increasingly realistic works. Who doesn’t remember games like OutRun, Top Gear, and Cruis n’ USA? These classics were part of the lives of many players, who experienced this time on consoles and arcades.
Today, with the popularization of indies, this type of genre has come back with full force, with some games making a success that cannot be denied. One such game is Slipstream, a work produced by a Brazilian developer called Sandro Luiz de Paula. Slipstream may be the most nostalgic game we will play this year. It’s not just interested in reclaiming the thrills of Outrun and, more specifically, Outrun 2: it casts its net so much more comprehensive and manages to catch the entirety of the 1990s.
The ’90s are there in the game’s menus, which, aside from flashing and jumping, like we’re playing on a CRT in the back of a camper, have the same technicolor pattern we remember from the carpet at our local bowling alley. Circa 1991. All of the slightly odd race tracks reference Sonic the Hedgehog levels (Emerald Hills, Marble Gardens, and Chemical Plant, to name a few), and celebrity painter Bob Ross beat us twice.
The ‘90s are invoked (the audio tracks are all cassettes! The soundtrack feels ported in from the movie Drive!) with gleeful joy. You can tell that the developers are looking to marinate Slipstream in the period’s sounds, sights, and gameplay, and they do a bodacious job, albeit doing it in an entirely unsubtle way.
Nowhere is this more true than in the graphics. Using a hybrid of 2D pixel art and polygonal landscapes, it feels entirely authentic for a Sega Saturn or PS1-era racer. What’s probably more impressive is the sensation of speed that it offers. Somehow, in the alchemy of 2D and 3D, Slipstream manages to feel incredibly fast, and it’s possible to find yourself leaning into corners and turning your controller like a steering wheel.
As with Outrun 2, Slipstream is all about power-sliding. The courses tend to meander, so mastering the power slide becomes essential. But that’s easier said than done: the powerslide is so unconventional and demanding that it’s entirely possible to hit a wall (both literally and figuratively) for the first hour or two. To powerslide, you have to quickly tap the LT button (the game’s break) and return to the RT button quickly. There’s a tiny window in which to pull off the slide. Do it early, and you will careen into a wall. Do it late, and you will stagger into the opposite wall.
It sounds easy on paper, but it’s tough in practice. We are finally there, but we only began ratcheting wins after an hour or two. Be prepared for that difficulty curve. We should note an ‘Automatic’ mode, where powerslides are applied on every turn, but we’d suggest that it makes the game trivial to complete. If that’s what you want from Slipstream, then go to town.
Most of the races are dense with traffic and competitors, so the mid-to end-game challenge is in power-sliding without bonking them. They have a habit of spasming into different lanes without warning, so that’s easier said than done. Most of the time, it feels random. But the traffic density can also give you some of Slipstream’s finest moments, as you navigate seven or eight cars without putting a bumper out of joint.
TURN ON THE TURBO
Slipstream is an arcade racing game full of fun and a lot of speed, which delights us in the first few minutes of playing.
We start our adventure with a very challenging race, in which we have to slide in the tightest corners through the Slipstream, a turbo bar that we fill by taking the vacuum of other cars. After the turbo is fired, it becomes more challenging to make the turns, which will demand skill from the players, mainly due to the number of cars on the track and the obstacles. If the player hits something, he can use the rewind button to try to fix that second error, something we saw, for example, in Forza Horizon. All that road racing atmosphere is present in every kilometer of track, which will keep you hooked from start to finish of every race.
VARIETY OF MODES IN Slipstream
Slipstream has various modes, ranging from closed circuits to sprints full of challenges. Below I will quote my experience with each of these exciting modes:
- Grand Tour – my first experience starts with a similar race to games like OutRun, in which we have to run from one point to another without taking turns. The big difference is for the rivals, who work as bosses, and are in each part of the race. At the end of each section, we can choose a route that brings a different track, making each race unique.
- Grand Prix – are championships with closed circuit races, in which we must be at a more significant number of opponents. A big highlight of this mode is that the cars can be modified or not, depending on the configuration we choose.
- Cannonball – this mode is very similar to the Grand Tour, with sprint races and various track customization options, enabling the bosses and still having the traditional opponents on the track.
- Time challenge – here, the player will be able to set his best times on each track.
- Battle Royale – rivals fight to survive each lane change, and the last one is eliminated in each leg.
- Multiplayer – a compilation of all game modes, but with the option to play with up to four players locally, something that gives a certain nostalgia.
I feel like there could be online multiplayer, something fundamental these days, as the distance between people has increased over the years.
Another interesting point is the inclusion, with different levels of difficulty and activation, or not, of automatic skidding, which helps the player in the tightest corners. There is a problem with balancing the test that easy is very easy, and medium at some points becomes almost impossible if you make a mistake during the race, something that happens a lot in Grand Tour mode.
Slipstream Cars Garage
The garage offers exciting options, with cars reminiscent of motorsport classics. Each vehicle has different characteristics that give it advantages in certain types of races or modes, something that makes us test each option.
THE MAGIC OF PIXEL ART IN SLIPSTREAM
Slipstream‘s art direction honors the legacy of the classics, with vehicles and characters with characteristics from the 80s/90s. The tracks also enter this vibe with vibrant colors and full of attitude.
The different tracks are a show apart, with many possibilities for themes, from beautiful beaches to cities full of toxic waste.
Remember that I mentioned the option to rewind during matches; even this feature is stylish, with distortions on the screen of a video cassette returning to the tape, something very cool to see.
The sound is incredible, with tracks reminiscent of the new wave era, which reigned in some games at the time. Some of them will quickly enchant the player. With the pause button, we can choose the songs we want to hear, which is nice when we get addicted to a particular piece. The sound effects are nice too, but the great work of the soundtrack overshadows them.
Opinion About Slipstream
Slipstream is a good arcade racing game, full of possibilities. It has a wide variety of tracks and game modes, holding the player for a long time. The beautiful pixel artwork combines with the new wave atmosphere, also present in the soundtrack.
Slipstream is also too simple and one-note to compete with some of its brethren outside of its excellent presentation. It only has corners and traffic to throw at the player, and it soon becomes clear that there are only so many ways you can turn left or right. Without a meaningful or exciting meta to slap onto it, like upgrading the cars in our garage
We enjoyed Slipstream. We did. There’s a pure exhilaration in its speed and how we barely kept our tires on the road as we drifted around a hard corner. We could close our eyes and imagine ourselves back in a 90s arcade, clutching the wheel of Outrun 2. We had a whale of a time for long periods, particularly once we nailed the drifting.
One of the negative points is the absence of an online multiplayer mode, something that even with local multiplayer can’t meet today’s needs. Difficulty imbalance can bother you at some point, but it’s something that can be fixed.
Slipstream is an excellent choice for those who miss the perfect arcade racing classics, something that will satisfy the nostalgia of many who lived through that era. Besides, of course, it is an entertaining and challenging racing game.