Retro Highway review for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox One
Publisher: Gearhead Games
Developer: Gearhead Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

My first reaction to Retro Highway was that it didn?t seem to be anything special: just a motorbike version of an endless runner that borrows heavily from the likes of Outrun and Road Rash.

Then, thinking about it more ? and playing it more, of course ? I realized that that?s not exactly a genre overflowing with games. In fact, I?d say that the very fact that Retro Highway seems so familiar and well-worn isn?t because it just apes from games from a few decades ago, but it apes from them so well.

Even though those games are older, it?s not as if they?re easy to capture what made them so enduring. Retro Highway does it because it borrows from them in the right places (Outrun more than Road Rash, to be sure), while adding a modern sensibility.

By this, I mean they took the graphics and music from those ?80s and ?90s arcade racers, and added in the kind of ?one more go? feeling you get from modern endless runners. They give you half a dozen tracks, each with their own unique aspects, except they lock all of them behind achievements that are fairly easy to rack up at first, but that gradually get harder. Likewise, while there are more than 10 motorbikes to ride in Retro Highway, you need to pick up coins during the races to unlock them ? but every level seems to be overflowing with coins, so it always feels like you?re making progress towards improving your ride.

Also, the game gets the feeling of speed just right. That may not seem like much, but it?s harder than you think ? I think back to (the very good) Horizon Chase Turbo, for example, and, as much as I loved it, it occasionally fell short in terms of making it feel like you were flying down the highway. Retro Highway doesn?t have that shortcoming; even when you crash, it really feels like you have some crazy momentum behind your rider bouncing down the highway.

This is all basic stuff, I know, but Retro Highway excels at getting it right. Given it doesn?t try to do too much, that?s essential ? and it?s why it makes easy to recommend picking it up.

Gearhead Games provided us with a Retro Highway Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-