Given how many racing titles there are out there, and how inherently dull some racing concepts can be, it’s nice to know that there’s still room for maneuver in the genre. It’s also nice when the proof comes in the form of an indie title. Flowrider is a seriously simple top-down speedboat racing title that exudes a purity of purpose that is singularly refreshing. There’s no element of other genres in here, it’s just racing. There’s not even too much variation in the style of races, but contrary to what you might naturally think, this is well worthy of the time and effort you’ll take to play it.
Sure, as an indie title, there’s not much depth, but it really doesn’t need a whole truckload of that, given the kind of gaming that it delivers. It’s a little like Micro Machines, but without the hideous difficulty level and amount of obstacles. There are four tiers of racing, with each one testing your skills a little more than the last, and while you may not be inclined to complete all 19 courses, you’ll probably have fun on the way.
What gets me about this kind of game, is that there’s nothing really new about it. You couldn’t say that developer Triple B Games has pulled any innovation out of the bag, but you can certainly give them credit for managing to refine a genre down to its core elements.
Gamers crave such a degree of depth or superfluity in our games, that often it’s difficult to pin down a title to a genre. Take the excellent Harm’s Way, a free XBLA download resulting from a Doritos competition (and well worth your time). Thrown into that mix is an amazing quantity of gameplay mechanics. RPG, co-op, racing and tower defence all play a part, and while it’s one of the best XBLA titles around, you wouldn’t necessarily want to play it if you’re looking for a racing title.
Flowrider is worth your time, not because it’s a great looking, or sounding title, or because it’s got the full range of on and off-line multiplayer support, but because it will, if nothing else, remind you how fun racing titles can be. It’s been a good many years since I’ve enjoyed a racer anywhere near as much as Flowrider, and I suspect that’s because the ‘hook’ is just racing.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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