Back in the mid-1980s, video game veteran Yu Suzuki went on a short sabbatical around Europe, researching the exotic backdrops for stylish arcade smash, OutRun. Almost three decades later, the series’ distinctive blue skies and sparkling oceans have become something of a racing sub-genre; much like WipEout, there’s a brand new crop of indie developers, all of whom have been motivated to create fresh titles inspired by their youth.
Slipstream, developed by a single Brazilian auteur, is OutRun in everything but name. The main mode, Grand Tour, sees you right-angle sliding your way through a pyramid of glamorous backdrops, from sprawling emerald hills to golden National Parks. Along the way you’ll face off against eccentric rivals – one a dead-ringer for Bob Ross – as you weave through traffic and dash to the next destination. There’s no gear shift here, just a slipstream system which sees your top speed significantly increase when you’re almost touching the rear wheel of another motorist.
There are a handful of different cars to drive, each with different parameters to master, and you can use these in the more laps-focused Grand Prix mode, which repurposes locations from the main game and transforms them into circuits. One neat wrinkle here is that you can choose between stock cars or an upgrade system, where you earn money based on your position in each race, which you can then use to personalise the parameters of your car as you desire. Split-screen multiplayer, as well as a handful of other novelty modes, like an elimination-inspired Battle Royale mode, round out a generous roster of options.
The gameplay feels great, with those aforementioned 90-degree drifts requiring you to dance on the analogue sticks delicately, and there’s a lightning fast pace to the action which is trance-inducing. The core course design isn’t particularly inspired – you’re either sliding or going straight, with little variation in between – but the tracks here aren’t supposed to rival the Nurburgring: this is pure nostalgia, with scorching synthesisers and optional scanlines. It’s a tantalising ode to a timeless era of arcade racers, and one we reckon even Yu Suzuki himself would be proud to put his name on.