Music Racer is a musical arcade game, where you get to race at full speed while dodging obstacles to the rhythm of the music.
I’ve been on somewhat of a rhythm game binge the last few months and when I heard this PC/Mobile game was being ported to consoles, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Will I be racing to some epic tunes or does the game miss a few beats? Let’s find out!
Let’s start with a quick rundown of the gameplay: You really only need the D-pad or left analog stick to control the game as you shift from lane to lane and try to pick up as many beats as possible. There are three different game modes:
- Zen is a no-stress version where you have zero risk at dying and just have to shift lanes.
- Normal throws in a few obstacles for you to dodge.
- Hard has additional obstacles and hitting one means game over.
- Cinema mode doesn’t have any pickups and keeps the car centred. You can only control the camera.
The neon style aesthetic ripped straight from the eighties are immediately striking. It’s not just the visuals that lend a lot of their ideas from this period in time but the electronic music also brings back a sense of nostalgia (-that may sound weird coming from someone born in 1987, but let’s just say me & my parents were a decade behind when it came to taste in music)
This style lends itself well to the concept of the game and you’ll even have a whopping FOURTEEN worlds to pick from, each with their own visual differences but also gameplay modifiers:
- Five lanes instead of the default three
- Flat roads or bumpy ones
- See-through roads
- Collectable beats falling from the sky so you can anticipate which lane to drive in
This does bring me to an issue I experienced with most of the worlds: it’s already EXCEPTIONALLY hard to plan ahead and see which lane you’ll have to shift to., but add in the bumpy roads or the ones with a lot of curves and it’s damn near impossible to get a perfect score. Sure, there are some tracks where this is easier than others, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not alternating between the great-looking worlds.
Next to the different worlds to pick from, you may have noticed that almost every screenshot and video has me controlling another vehicle. The game has some pretty nice referrals to existing cars but also to fan-favourites from various fiction material like a Tron Lightcycle, Kitt from night rider, the DeLorean from Back to the Future and much more. If you’re an achievement hunter, you’ll be glad to know that all of the achievements can be obtained simply by purchasing the worlds & cars. Just prepare for a bit of grind if you want to get Santa’s ride at 100 000 beats 0_0′
We’ve established the game looks great, but what about the most important aspect of a rhythm game? Well, I’m sad to say that out of the 23 tracks, only about half of them were really to my liking. Taste in music differs wildly from person to person though, so it’s best to make your own judgement in this area. But when it works! it REALLY works:
Sadly the console version doesn’t allow you to upload your own MP3 files. I’ve heard the mobile & PC counterparts do have this feature and it autogenerates tracks based on the soundwaves. I’ve always appreciated this option in Audiosurf and there is nothing like playing to your personal favourites. Fear not: With 23 songs x 14 worlds you’ll have your work cut out for you if you want to test everything.
The settings deserve some form of applause: you can pretty much change most of them to your personal preference:
- Do you want the pickups to have a sound effect?
- Quick snapping from lane to lane or accurate driving?
- Do you want motion blur?
- The Camera distance?
- Screenshake intensity?
The latter two are especially welcome, as sitting only 4-5 meters away from my 55″ TV set, I did experience some issues with my vision. Eyes got watery and a slight headache set on when playing multiple songs in a row. This was improved a lot when I increased the distance of the camera from the car and reduced the amount of screenshake.
At the time of writing, there are also still a few bugs that happened occasionally: the screen would get incrementally brighter, requiring me to reset the game. The music from the main menu kept playing during the songs or (but this was very rare) the analog stick wouldn’t register my movement. I defaulted to the D-pad afterwards to avoid having the issue. I’ll edit this section after the 29/1 release date at which point I’ll check if they are still present.
Music Racer is a solid rhythm game with a lot of content for its low asking price, though it’s a shame the custom MP3 upload doesn’t work on consoles. The visuals pop from the screen (often a little too much) and most of the songs are wonderfully executed, though your level of appreciation may be up to personal taste.
*A review key for Xbox One & PS4 was provided by the publisher