Ultimate Racing 2D – Switch

Back in the 90’s top down racers were a big thing. You could not flick through any magazine without seeing a review or feature of one. Anything from the excellent Micro Machine series to Super Off Road the choice was extensive. Netherlands based studio Applimazing have taken everything great about these 2D pixel racers and turbo driven a showering of modern polish. We ramp up the horse power and rev the engine for the Switch review of Ultimate Racing 2D.

The amount of content in this indie speedster is impressive. Boasting 35 racing classes spread amongst 300+ different cars and 45 tracks there is lots to keep petrol busy. You have several game modes to work through including championships and career modes. The added multiplayer mode can host locally or join races online. The sheer volume of content makes this worth the asking price alone. We did not get anywhere to finishing a career mode during our playthrough. 

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Before getting into how Ultimate Racing 2D plays it is important to explore the plethora of options and vehicles available. Everything from farming equipment to American muscle cars can be driven right out the blocks. The quick play mode allows you create a perfect race and puts you in pole position to decide your game. You can have 20 laps, with rain, in Russia racing go karts if you wish.

The challenge mode requires you achieve a certain position in a tournament of races to progress on to the next vehicle class. Career mode is the most in depth way to play with a full suite of options to enjoy. While many of the cars handle and look similar you can’t fault Applimazing’s attention to detail. It is astonishing to think this is the developers first big game after their tech demo-esque releases of Car Soccer 2D and Formula Racing 2D. You can tell from the outset Ultimate Racing 2D is a labour of love.

You earn cash to buy cars from the garage and they stay unlocked in that particular mode once purchased. Although many of the cars are just colour or texture swaps the difference in stats make collecting them all worthwhile. When you finally get racing after, selecting your game mode and options, you are greeted with a nostalgia-inducing top down view of the track and the cars lined up on the start line. The tension build and revs pour out as you blast into gear.

If you have played a top down racer before the controls will be instantly familiar. Pulling the right trigger pumps your speed while tugging the left applies your brake. Left and right steer your vehicle and some also have a boost to use with the action button. The boost replenishes each lap and drains the more you hold it down. Steering is smooth and the controls feel natural and you adjust quickly.

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You will have lots of fun no matter which of the many modes you pick. You gradually improve and see yourself finish higher up the race. It was exciting for us winning our first race after a few attempts. As we saw more vehicles unlock we had the little moments such as driving a sports or muscle car for the first time. It felt like being back in the mid 90’s progressing in a Mega Drive racer. This title oozes quality and will please any Damon Hill loving racing enthusiast.

Ultimate Racing 2D is not without its faults though. Some of the AI can be frustrating at times that upsets the balance of the race. The computer racers generally stick to a pre-determined line with the odd moment when they randomly slam into your car. This does not stop the enjoyment though and actually adds a little variety. You can adjust the AI to make racing harder or easier at anytime if you are struggling but part of the fun is the challenge.

Visually Ultimate Racing 2D shows off some lovely detailed pixel art. Bold colours with defined shapes make it easy to identify everything on the track quickly. This really reminded us of top down racers on the Amiga due to its level of detail and vast colour palette. The sprites for each car look fantastic and the details like stadia and pit-stops bring it all to life. Ultimate Racing 2D stays true to its inspirations while adding many visual improvements.

The music and sound for this racer are adequate yet functional. They could have popped a little more but they keep the action moving along and each vehicle class has its own sound. It would have been great to hear some more retro inspired tunes between races but the overall sound is good. It is probably the weakest aspect of the game and that is us struggling to find bad points to mention. This game is great and finding faults is tough.

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The overall presentation is excellent and the menus are simple to use. The ability to go pure arcade or career mode gives this cracking racer depth that many indie games would be envious of. Applimazing have set a bar and shown us that budget does not always have to mean short of content. We cannot wait to see what this fledgling studio releases next. If Ultimate Racing 2D is anything to go by it should be good.

Fans of old school, top down racers will get a real turbo charge from this one. We have not played the multiplayer but if it is even half as good as the single player you will have a blast. Lots of modes and vehicles with longevity in spades with top-notch gameplay. Essential for on the go racing fans and arcade fans alike. If you buy one indie title this month make it Ultimate Racing 2D.

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