Retro Highway is a mobile title ported to Switch that very much feels like a mobile title ported to Switch. This is an endless racer of sorts where you take your bike down the highway, avoiding collisions, hitting ramps for sweet stunts, and collecting coins to buy better bikes. I mean, it is a nice time waster, but that is not why you are here.
Is Retro Highway a worthy time waster that will entertain? Or should this be a free-to-play mobile title and nothing more? Let’s find out!
Like many mobile games, Retro Highway starts with a simple menu that lets you see upgrades, new bikes, leaderboards, and settings, and it is very mobile-like in presentation. There is not a whole lot in regards to tutorial, as you are just kind of thrown into a highway with the instructions of moving with the left joystick and accelerating with the right trigger.
It is a bit of an addictive experience, as the goal of the game is to travel as far as possible without crashing. The bikes can take a couple side bumps, but any head-on collision is an instant game over. However, like many mobile games again, you can pay your way with coins to continue a run even after you crash, which allows you to continue pursuing personal records or attacking the online leaderboard (Which is currently insane).
There are 11 bikes to unlock and 6 stages. Bikes can be purchased with coins collected on the highways, while stages are unlocked by completing challenges. Things like “Ride for XXXm without collecting coins”, “Pick up X bonuses in a single run”, or “Do XX close calls in a single run”, for example. This is a nice little incentive, because each progressing stage is more challenging yet more rewarding, which makes unlocking them crucial for getting more coins to buy even better bikes. Powerups can also be upgraded with coins, which tend to help with progression as well (Although I did not think these helped out too much).
Gameplay is pretty simple: you ride your bike down dangerous highways that are littered with cars and trucks as you attempt to avoid running into them, putting an end to your joyride. Controls are really simple yet difficult to master, as precision movement is key to longevity and quick reflexes are beyond necessary.
It is not the most complicated or layered game, that’s for sure, but Retro Highway is definitely a fun, little getaway from the norm. Sure, this is basically a mobile affair, but that does not automatically make it a bad title. Quite the contrary, the simplicity of the gameplay caters to its replay value, because thankfully, the game plays well and is rather fun. Completing challenges and unlocking new stages adds a lot of play value, and speeding down the highway avoiding crashes is quite exhilarating. I mean, it is not going to win any awards, but that is not the purpose of the game. It is good ol’ simple fun, and it will strongly entertain if you enjoy infinite runners.
Retro Highway also looks and feels like old NES or arcade titles, something like Rad Racer, and it both serves as major nostalgia but also messes with the mind as depth perception is really hard on a low graphic 3D racers like this. In titles like Rad Racer, the turns and swerves were less common, but in Retro Highway, those turns and swerves happen regularly with lots of traffic, meaning accidental crashes will happen a whole lot more than you would like. Restarting is no problem at all, and the game is definitely meant to be played in short bursts, but this is still a bit annoying, especially when you are trying to finish tough challenges.
Retro Highway is a fun title that will definitely be enjoyable as a pallet cleanser between other games. It does not have any depth at all, as this is truly a simple, retro infinite racer. The unlockables definitely add value to the experience, and racing on the strongest bike in the game is an insane ride.
The game plays well, looks really cool and nostalgic, and the soundtrack (Although minimal) is awesome! For a title that transitioned from mobile to Switch, I have to say that this is how it should be done. There are no stupid in-app purchases, and everything can be obtained through normal gameplay. Skilled individuals will most likely unlock everything within a couple hours, but attacking the online leaderboard is a fun incentive to keep you coming back and practicing.
So if you are looking for that old-school look and feel while you race down these flat yet three-dimensional highways, then I have to recommend this nice, little title. It may not pack a huge punch, but it does have nitro, you can go fast, and you can crash hard. Some times it is just simple things like that that sell a game.
Retro Highway Review provided by Nintendo Link
Review also found on OpenCritic
Publisher: Gearhead Games
Developer: Gearhead Games
Release Date: November 11th, 2021
Price: $5.99, £4.99, €5,99
Game Size: 49 MB
Fun, simple gameplay
Powerups don't feel very effective
Depth perception can be quite problematic
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.