Demo News: Slipstream
Do you remember the classic “3D” racers of the 80’s and 90’s that were actually just 2D sprites mashed together to emulate “perspective”? What if we went back and re-did that with up-to-date tech? Slipstream seeks to answer that question.
Slipstream (complete with obligatory Katakana subtitle, sugoiii! ~_~) is currently doing the Kickstarter thang, with about two weeks left to reach its relatively modest $6,000 goal (idling towards the half way mark at time of writing). Here at New Retro Games we only post about playable content – so yes, there is indeed a sleek demo waiting in the garage for you to hop in and give that ignition key a turn. I took her out for a spin, and although the value dropped by half as soon as I took it out of the lot, Slipstream was a fun, if simple, blast to the past (once I had hit 88mph of course).
I’m not really up on the technology so I’m not sure how Slipstream’s engine works, although it bills itself as “pseudo3d”. I assume this means the gears under the hood are still closer to that retro fake-3d thing of yore rather than “real” 3D posing as 2D that was trying to emulate the 3D that Slipstream is now pseudoperforming. Uh, yes, that should do it. Ahem. Anyway, I can say it really does a spot on impression of the look and feel of the old racing games like Outrun perfectly, regardless of how it does it, plus with the benefit of higher resolutions and bigger screens (side note: replaying old games designed for smaller screens/resolutions make me feel so claustrophobic now). Gameplay-wise, Slipstream also plays quite similarly to the games that inspired it. Thanks to its “pseudo perspective”, the track is pretty much a straight-ahead affair, with turns in the roadscape revolving around you rather than the other way round. Drifting is pretty much mandatory to get through on time – but it’s quite easy to perform. Backed by its jazzy BGM, Slipstream is more about smooth cruising than pedal thrashing.
It’s a neat callback to the retro origins of the racing game, but perhaps too much – the demo does look great, and it’s fun to relive the old racing experience, but aside from the graphical makeover Slipstream doesn’t really do much else innovative or interesting with the retro setup. Sure, there is drifting and branching paths, but Outrun and others also did this too. The full version apparently will include a “story mode” – which is “a fully illustrated, scripted story mode, including different kinds of missions…characters to interact, choices to make and multiple endings.” This has been done also – but perhaps less so – and it does sound quite interesting. Personally I’d be more interested to see more depth to the tracks and racing mechanics (e.g. tuneup and mess with your car like in Street Rod), track editing (like Hard Drivin’ II) or just lots more cars (a mix of sports cars with the mundane is always fun, ice-cream clown-truck anyone?). Or just remake Test Drive 3: The Passion. I spent way too much time on that game driving off into the middle of nowhere and finding stuff. …but I digress – I’m probably asking for way too much, and Slipstream is perhaps commendable for sticking to a focused goal and modest amount: we don’t really need another Star Citizen (Road Citizen??), do we?
In any case, the demo is out there, somebody left the keys left in the ignition – so why not give it a spin?
Slipstream | Demo