There's no doubt about it: Oh, Deer!'s got ample game – just not necessarily the right kind. NecroSoft's last hurrah for Sony's ill-fated PlayStation Mobile initiative epitomises everything that the programme should have stood for: it's accessible, affordable, and utterly outlandish. And yet despite all of that, it's more of a proof of concept than a truly fulfilling experience – a mere idea if you'll pardon the pun.
You are the pilot of a slick looking station wagon, and you're on your way home to Oakland. Tonally, there's very little consistency in this title – but that's part of the appeal. You'll need to drive by pyramids and castles on your way back to the sleepy Californian city, where you'll rendezvous with your grandma at the end of the course. Elks will line up on the highway along the way, and you'll need to either dodge them – or turn them into road kill.
As it turns out, the developer has a greater ambition for this dark humour. Indeed, future editions will apparently adapt the visuals depending on your actions, meaning those baying for Bambi's blood will be haunted by much darker imagery. None of that's in this version of the release, however, and we even found the allusion to adaptive audio difficult to determine – this is clearly half a game.
But what's here is legitimately enjoyable: Yu Suzuki's excellent OutRun blueprint has been replicated almost exactly, from the right-angle drifts right through to the shifting stages. And it's not the only SEGA link that's here: Streets of Rage 3 composer Motohiro Kawashima has been recruited to compose some bowel moving crunk. Early tunes sound like a toddler armed with a MicroKORG, but once you reach the sand dunes of Giza the brawling brand's unmistakable metallic bass kicks in.
It's just a shame that there's so little else to say about it. The visuals – constructed entirely out of sprites – are colourful and suitably nostalgic, and there are some neat dream-like graphical effects layered on top. But the framerate really chugs when the scene transitions, and considering that the release demands precision, that's a bit of an oversight. Also, while it may cost you less than the price of a Twix, you'll be watching the credits in 15 minutes – and there's no real reason to go back.
If games like Oh, Deer! had populated the PlayStation Mobile storefront from the beginning, the failed initiative may have justified its existence a little better. Sure, this is not a full release – it even adorns the word 'Alpha' on its title screen – but for a few cents it's a fun throwback to the old SEGA arcade days, with an undercurrent of black humour bubbling beneath the surface. OutRun fans will fawn over this unconventional racer, while anyone open to new ideas should also be game. One thing's for sure, though: everyone will be left longing for more.