ENJOYUP GAMES / ENJOYUP GAMES
I have fond memories of simpler times, when it was obvious where you stood with a game: beat this level, unlock that, get the ending, piss off happy.
A time when there was no need to worry about microtransactions, expansion packs, title updates or working servers.
Basically, what I’m getting at in a roundabout way is that I fondly remember gaming back in the days when Super Sprint was considered the dog’s balls.
Clearly EnjoyUp Games do too, because Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing basically is Super Sprint, albeit a more modern take on it.
This isn’t EnjoyUp’s first foray into the world of top-down racing. Last year it released Rock ‘N Racing Off Road, a game that shared more than a little in common (including its name) with classic retro racers Super Off Road and Rock & Roll Racing.
Sadly, some ropey jump physics and slippery handling meant Rock ‘N Racing Off Road wasn’t quite the game it could have been, something EnjoyUp has tried to remedy this time.
As the name suggests, Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing ditches the dirt jumps in favour of circuit races, swapping its predecessor’s monster trucks and dune buggies for Formula 1 cars.
It also replaces the single-screen static tracks with much larger scrolling ones, giving the game a wide open feel that’s more suitable for F1 racing.
Its handling is still something that will take getting used to, but without the previous game’s jumps making things unpredictable it’s a lot easier to get to grips with it.
That is, once you’ve come to terms with how shit your car initially is. You see, Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing is odd in that its difficulty curve is upside down.
When you start your first Championship season it’s pretty much impossible to win a race. Your car is painfully slow, it turns like a tank and all your opponents are much faster than you.
After restarting this first race umpteen times and never getting a position higher than 10th you’ll be tempted to consider chucking in the towel, marking this one down to experience and vowing never to buy another Rock ‘N Racing game again. Fool me once, and all that.
Eventually though you slowly start earning tokens, which are spent improving your acceleration, top speed, braking, handling and the like. It’s the usual stuff you’d expect from a racing game upgrade but the difference is perhaps more noticeable here.
As you continue to add upgrades you find yourself catching up to opponents easier. You take turns better, and can afford to brake later. You still take fucking ages to pick up speed but you learn to accept this as a design decision – it’s to make you scared of bumping into rivals – as every other element of your car improves.
And eventually – pretty much by the end of the first season – your car is basically Speed Racer. And that’s when the problem changes, because now you’re too fast.
What used to be frustrating 10th place finishes soon become easy 1st place ones, and anger is quickly replaced with apathy.
That’s not to say it’s a disaster, mind you. Sometimes all you want is a game that lets you switch off and race cars for a while, and Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing does scratch that itch as long as you aren’t looking for a massive challenge.
It does still take me back to the glory days of simple gaming, even though back then you didn’t have an annoying-as-fuck announcer yelling “this race is on FIRE” all the time.
At £6.39 / $7.99 it isn’t going to break the bank (especially considering it’ll end up in a sale at some point), so if it’s old-school racing fun you’re looking for it might be worth a look. Just don’t expect to still be playing it months from now.
To round things off, I’m conscious that my last two reviews included a video of a glitch. It would be wrong of me not to continue the tradition:
Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing is available for download now on Xbox One. In order that I could write this review, I received a free code for the game from the developer. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way influenced by this.
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