Formula Retro Racing: World Tour – An Arcade Love Letter with an Esports Heart

EGX 2022 was a return to form for the expo. Following a sparse and somewhat lacklustre 2021, an expected outcome but still underwhelming, 2022 saw major companies like Chillblast, Intel, Activision, SEGA and more bring their full might to the convention.

However, one small game in particular caught my heart, lurking deep within the Rezzed / Indie section of the showfloor.

Enter, Formula Retro Racing: World Tour.

Formula Retro Racing World Tour

Formula Retro Racing: World Tour showcase

This title is in fact a sequel – the original game, Formula Retro Racing released in 2020. While receiving a lot of buzz and attention, the original, ultimately scored mixed reviews. Designed to be a love letter to 90’s arcade racers, the game was lauded and praised for it’s visually striking artstyle and tight physics when driving at full speed but was largely dragged down by being somewhat rough around the edges.

Collision detection issues, some inconsistencies in car behaviour and some missing quality of life features (Like a Quit button..), as well as seemingly a lack of post-launch support according to many reviews on Steam, took away from what was a very novel and satisfying game. Especially, when nailing a track and perfecting a lap.

The game seems to have expanded in every direction with the sequel. More content, more variety, more polish. Using the foundation of the previous game to assess their shortcomings and tighten things up greatly, I got the pleasure of trying not just a curated demo, but a full early build of the game, being able to try everything from the staple formula car (now with new variations), to a completely different experience with the wide-bodied muscle cars that trade being gripped up for going sideways. In fact, we found in speaking to the developer that the ‘Power Lap Challenge’, the demo mode used for the showfloor, was devised just a few days prior to the event and was such a good idea that it was greenlit and implemented on the spot.

Taking it for a spin was an absolute joy

I focused on that exact mode in order to sample the game at its best. A drop-in and drive 5-lap session around a randomly selected track, which changed daily in tandem with their competition on the showfloor. In Top Gear fashion, the fastest times ascended a magnetic leaderboard, with the fastest driver receiving a trophy every day for their efforts. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition, though most days comedically saw the casual arcade game being ruthlessly lapped by a few fiercely competitive racers in the last hour. The game is infectiously addictive and makes it easy for you to jump back in after a run of laps.

Advanced movement techniques have already been found, like ‘speed wiggling’; A technique used to negate speed loss up inclines by quickly alternating steering inputs side-to-side, so expect hardcore racing fans to be at war on the leaderboards as optimisations are made and, at the mercy of the developer, what techniques are discovered and allowed in the game.

To describe this game in a sentence would be ‘a Daytona-flavoured Trackmania’. The physics are tighter than ever, there’s infinite competitive potential with the creativity and personality oozing from every sound effect, track addition and smoke particle, and whether you’re a more casual racer who likes to drop in for some quick laps and slide around the competition, or a hardcore driver who looks to squeeze every millisecond from your runs, hours at a time, there’s something for everyone and I emphatically recommend picking the game up in 2023, or at least trying the demo available on Steam right now.

Take it from me – My trophy’s set to arrive in the mail any day now.

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