REVIEW: 80’s Overdrive

80’s Overdrive successfully delivers a retro arcade racer which is fun to play although a little easy to complete

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Racing,Retro,Arcade
Developer: Insane Code
Publisher: Insane Code
Release date: 12 Nov, 2020


Retro games are always difficult to assess. Do you want a faithful reproduction of a bygone classic with all its faults and limitations, or do you want a representation of a classic with a modern twist? Overdrive sort of falls in-between both categories.

Mimicking arcade classics like Outrun and Chase HQ it lacks a few features generally associated with this genre. It’s still a lot of fun to play after a slow start, but I found it too easy and although the tracks looked nice, they lacked any real depth.


80’s Overdrive has a total of thirty six different tracks to race on, varying in difficulty and length.

Finishing in the top three earns you one, two or three crowns depending on whether you finish third, second or first respectively.
As you earn crowns you will climb the leaderboard and be able to unlock new races.

After the race you can see your points earned and your points total, the amount of cash you have, the prize money you earned and your total cash level.

You can also repair any damage inflicted in the race and refuel your car if needed. If these two things aren’t done and your car either runs out of petrol or reaches one hundred percent damage, then your car is towed back to the garage and you will be forced to pay for the damages and need to enter the race again.

Each time you enter a race it costs you an entrance fee. As you progress, the entrance fee increases but so does the potential rewards. During gameplay if you decide you aren’t going to finish in the top three, you can restart the race without any penalty. If you cross the finishing line you will need to pay the entrance fee again.

Before the race starts you can choose from a selection of eighteen tracks to listen to whilst you drive. You can move up and down the list during the race by pressing either LT or RT.

Timing your start gives you an advantage over your competitors. Your rivals almost always wheel spin on the line handing you a top three start from the very beginning. It is very easy to time the start and put yourself firmly in the driving seat.

Dangers on the Track🚔🚚

Tracks increase in difficulty as you progress but no circuit really proves to be difficult. I can only remember a handful of times that I actually had to slow down around a corner, even with the fastest car. Most of the time you’ll be travelling at maximum speed. The difficulty lies in avoiding the very rude drivers. Half of them will try and swerve into your car or block your path, especially the competitors. You also have the police to deal with who will also try to run you off the course when you encounter them.

The worst drivers are the lorries and Fiats who are hell bent on knocking you off the track. They will sometimes swerve at the last moment or cross the whole track to bump you. Fast reflexes are sometimes required to keep the car on the road. If you do get hit you’ll either be knocked off the track, causing a slight delay and losing four or five places, or just slowed down momentarily. Any collision is going to affect your damage rating which will need to be repaired after the race. In particularly rough races you can end up spending more money on repairs than the prize money earned!

Police cars are quite distinguishable and once you overtake them they will turn on their sirens and try and knock you off the track and block your passage. They shoot ahead of you and then slam on their breaks. Whilst they shoot ahead they often bump into you causing you to slow down and rack up damage. I think the flashing lights indicate where the police car is going to approach from so if possible get out of its way! In the heat of the race, with other cars to avoid and corners to navigate this is not always possible. On a particularly narrow track the police car can be your demise. On wider tracks he is often easy to avoid.

Bonus Time 🧭 Don’t Mind If I Do

Before the race a mysterious character may approach you offering you certain deals. These might be to beat a rival or even lose on purpose! Often he asks you to collect objects on the track. If you meet the requirements you are rewarded handsomely after the race, no matter what your placing.

I really don’t understand why you would decline the offer of potentially winning lots of money for performing relatively simple tasks but what do I know!

The missions are incredibly easy. I don’t think I had any problems completing them. The only one I did have issues with was when he wanted me to finish last. I got bored with trailing behind so thought I would race into the end and just stop and watch the others fly past the finishing line. I forgot you cannot stop to a standstill and I came fourth. It is quite difficult to get the challenge up again and you will not be able to repeat any mission once you complete the game. You will need to start a new profile.

Time Attack Mode

Time Attack challenges you to complete up to twenty five stages in one sitting. You start off with ninety seconds to complete the level but you can add to that total by passing traffic in close proximity. Your total carries on from the previous stage.

It should take you roughly an hour to complete all the stages and is quite difficult to do. The traffic moves at funny angles which not only looks odd but makes overtaking them closely very difficult to do without collisions. You have to be very close to them to register any additional seconds, and the closer you are, the more seconds you receive, up to a maximum of three seconds. There are actually some bends in this mode that you have to slow down for.

Level Editor

There is a very basic level editor. It doesn’t allow you to design and build the track in the relative sense of the word but it will let you enter parameters which then process the track.

You can build a few tracks and save them to edit later. Completed tracks generate a code which I presume you can share with others but this feature is not working currently but being looked at. It is disappointing that you cannot view codes online and see the tracks. I think this would be a nice feature.

Car Choice🚘

There are six cars to choose from. Initially you will have the option of two. They are all supercars and all recognisable to the trained eye. The first three cars will need a lot of upgrading. There are three categories to upgrade. steering, engine and bumpers.

steering supposedly helps you go around corners and prevents skidding, but to be honest I did not feel any difference when upgraded to the max; engine increases your maximum speed and acceleration and also lowers your fuel consumption; bumpers makes you more resilient on track and lowers your repair bill.

The first two cars need complete upgrades. There are eight upgrades in each category and each upgrade costs more than the last. It will take you a while to upgrade these cars although they are cheap to buy. Other cars are more expensive to purchase but have most of their upgrades already installed so it will cost you less to upgrade them to their maximum potential.

You can also purchase nitro boosts which are a permanent feature added to your car. They give you two short bursts of speed per race and at only $500 are an absolute no brainer.

Obtaining a police scanner for $500 alerts you to the presence of nearby police. This was less useful in reality as the police are quite distinctive and easy to spot anyway. The developer suggested that the scanner can be used as a tactical weapon where you can use the police car to hinder opponents. It is true that police and traffic do obstruct others as well as yourself, but because you are generally ahead of the field anyway, there’s no point in slowing down to wait for challengers to appear so that the police may or may not hinder them.

Other addons are paint jobs with a choice of six different colours and the choice of manual or automatic transmission.

Graphics 🕹️

The developer has tried to make the game look like what it would have done in the nineteen eighties and I suppose he has achieved this.

The backgrounds and environments are very bold and colourful. I was observing the scenery closely as there is an unusual way it moves around which gives an interesting effect that you don’t always notice when in the heat of a race. The background is layered with each layer independently moving around as the car moves. Odd but effective.

The car movements are a little jerky and traffic almost travel sideways on occasions which doesn’t look right.

Assets are noticeably repeated often, but they look cute and charismatic. It definitely has a retro look and feel about it.


The music tracks are very well-done with a selection of eighteen synthwave retro pumping beats which adds a bit of excitement to the proceedings. You can skip tracks at will and find your favourite one to drive to.

I enjoyed the soundtracks very much. They are very well composed and all sound suitably retro.

The engine noises were very poor however and didn’t add any grunt or feeling of acceleration or deceleration. There weren’t many special effect noises like crowds chanting or aeroplanes going past. It was all a bit bland and could use some improvement.


Overall, the game is certainly fun to play. It’s bold, bright and has a great soundtrack. It proves to be quite addictive after an initial slow start.

The racing is a little bit too easy. The tracks are usually very wide and give you plenty of room to maneuver. It’s only when the courses narrow to three lanes that you start to struggle and it feels challenging to play. There is no difficulty setting and it is apparent early on that most races will be won without much effort.

The controls feel quite basic and you never feel like you are in control of a racing car but more of a game where you just avoid traffic. I hardly used the brake pedal at all. This is fine of course, but don’t expect a complicated racing game.

I would have liked to have seen a leaderboard option and have track records on each course, and a mini map and mirrors would have certainly made life easier. There is no option to change the camera angle either so the game does feel a little void of options.

Personally, I think Horizon Chase Turbo is a better example of a retro style racer as it is much more challenging and feels more polished. There is certainly some fun to be had in this title however.

There are some nice achievements to aim for, which in the end kept me playing. I enjoyed playing to completion and think this would be suited to retro arcade racing enthusiasts who don’t mind not having too much of a challenge.

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December 2020

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