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NeoSprint Review: More Under The Hood Than Meets The Eye

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch

Also On: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, Xbox Series X and Series S

Price: $24.99

I have a lot of cherished memories from playing Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road and RC Pro-Am, two of my all-time favorite arcade-style racing games. Their appeal is not their realism, but in the interesting track designs, stunts pulled off (intentionally or unintentionally), and spectacular crashes they feature. The close finishes and the friendly rivalries they sparked were simply part of the charm. Thus, I was thrilled to play NeoSprint at PAX East this year, and even more thrilled to have the opportunity to review the game. NeoSprint masterfully captures the spirit of those classic arcade racers and adds its own flare to the original formula.

One of the things I love about these type of arcade games is how easy it is to jump in and play right away. There isn’t a steep learning curve, unlike some more realistic racers tend to be. There are a few options that I have available to me to start with, I’ll start with the most obvious one (and the main focus of the game) - Race Now.

I am presented with the choice of either single-player or multiplayer mode. Consistent with its arcade-style roots, the multiplayer option supports local co-op exclusively, accommodating up to eight players simultaneously. Personally, I prefer local co-op over online play, as the latter's potential latency issues could disrupt the racing experience. Multiplayer mode offers the flexibility of playing in free mode or competing in a Grand Prix. I particularly appreciate being able to select an existing cup that I've unlocked or create a custom cup, incorporating tracks that I've either designed myself or downloaded. More details on track design later.

There is a wide variety of cars to choose from, each with their own unique styles - some excel at taking turns, while others boast a higher top speed. In addition to choosing between different colors, more styles become available as I progress through the single player experience.

The gameplay is an isometric view of the track. With so much action happening on the track, it can be challenging to keep track of my car, especially with seven other drivers competing. To help with this, developers have included the option to place a marker on my vehicle, allowing me to easily identify it with the press of a button. While playing in single-player mode, I have the choice to focus solely on my car or the entire track. Personally, I found myself gravitating towards the latter, as it reminds me of the arcade-style racers I enjoyed playing as a child.

The racing mechanic is a fusion of elements from Super Off Road and RC Pro Am. Initially, mastering the steering presented a challenge, though the game offers customization options. The game’s controls are straightforward, relying solely on acceleration and braking, without the inclusion of a slide mechanic. I found that gently easing off the accelerator when approaching curves proved more effective than applying the brakes. Failing to adjust often caused my car to ricochet off the walls. Frequent massive pile-ups were part of the gameplay; with some luck, I was able to navigate through the chaos and use it to gain a competitive edge. The cars are susceptible to damage; while my own car never exploded, I often saw opponents' vehicles blow up, which forced them to respawn and cost them precious seconds in the race.

One of the coolest aspects of the game is the photo finish feature. During a tightly contested race, my opponent and I reached the finish line seemingly simultaneously. Suddenly, a lightbox appeared, displaying a detailed close-up of our two cars as they crossed the finish line. This provided clear evidence of who had actually finished first. It was an unexpected feature that pleasantly surprised me when it occurred.

The primary emphasis of the single-player mode is the Campaign, yet it also includes a Grand Prix mode, a free race, an obstacle course, and a time trial. Successfully navigating the obstacle courses and mastering the time trials unlocks additional track segments and a variety of new vehicle designs for selection.

The Campaign features a variety of cups, each consisting of four races. The fourth race in each cup involves facing off against a boss. Personally, I found the artwork of the bosses to be quite unique. They have an anime-style appearance, but instead of the typical exaggerated "boss" look, they resembled average individuals. Additionally, most of the bosses had ordinary names, which added a level of personality and realism to their characters.

With nearly fifty tracks available in Campaign mode, defeating the bosses unlocked additional tracks, vehicle designs, and customization options to enhance my racing experience. The amount of content offered is extensive, and even after completing the cups, I had the option to incorporate the tracks into my own custom Grand Prix events.

My absolute favorite aspect of the game is definitely the track builder. It gives me the creative freedom to design my ideal track, allowing me to choose the biome and decide whether I want a small, medium, or large track. The ability to select different tracks and styles enhances my design options, and the option to add decorations and buildings adds to the overall aesthetic. Once my track is complete, I must test it before saving and sharing it with players worldwide. I can also like tracks while browsing custom creations, and have the option to download and incorporate any tracks into my own custom Grand Prix.

Overall Score: A-

NeoSprint offers far more depth than is immediately apparent. Boasting nearly fifty playable tracks, and featuring the capability to design and share your own courses, this game provides limitless entertainment. While the campaign mode offers a fun and challenging single-player experience, the true appeal of NeoSprint lies in its arcade-style multiplayer gameplay. With options to organize Grand Prix events and challenge friends, NeoSprint is an essential addition for anyone seeking their next local multiplayer gaming adventure.

Review copy provided by ÜberStrategist PR



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