Music is a strange entity that divides and unites people. Subsequently, what I may love, you may loathe. Yet, no matter our tastes, we can all agree that it enriches our souls and makes us happy. Music Racer: Ultimate attempts to explore this theory while testing your reactions and rhythm.
Developed by AbstractArt and Light Road Games and published by Sometimes You, this is a racing rhythm title. This is the upgrade from Music Racer, the arcade game released in 2018. The new and improved version has performance enhancements, but more importantly, the ability to play your own music. “Why is that important?” you may wonder! Well, when the hectic action relies on a variety of songs, you may wish to select your favourite track.
Music Racer: Ultimate is a slow-burner.
I usually adore every rhythm game I tackle, as I love how addictive and challenging they are. I recently covered Beat Souls, and it highlights my obsession with the genre. However, Music Racer: Ultimate didn’t grab me straight away. Its lack of early game content and its simple mechanics left me reeling. However, as I progressed, it got under my skin and I became lost in the futuristic setting. Consequently, I enjoyed unlocking new stages, purchasing vehicles, and the chilled out Ibiza vibes.
Though I soon warmed to its straightforward approach, I was disappointed by the lack of a story. True, it would have been hard to implement it within the fast-paced rhythmical action. Yet, it would have added to the gameplay if there was a reason for racing upon the neon-infused streets. As it is, you must speed through a selection of racetracks, collecting tokens to hit the high score. There are obstacles to avoid, and hitting every marker enhances your combo.
A basic premise.
As I said, the concept won’t stretch you. There are no fancy power-ups to collect, and it matters not which car you select. Therefore, the gameplay could be repetitive. Luckily, however, the developers overcame this with the choice of 4 game modes and a variety of songs to pick from. The options available to you are standard, zen, cinematic, and hard. They are pretty self-explanatory, but each has a distinct quality.
The standard mode is your go-to option. Here you will collect tokens, avoid obstacles, and race to the finish. There are no penalties for failure, and hitting a trap is a mere inconvenience. Zen mode, on the other hand, allows you to race freely with no danger whatsoever. Therefore, you can focus on your high score while enjoying the atmospheric music. Next, there is the Cinematic option. It offers an awe-inspiring view of each vehicle and the surrounding world. It was beautiful to zoom in and out of your car while studying the different backdrops. If you so wished, you could lose yourself in this time-consuming choice. Finally, hard mode will break your soul. Death is guaranteed and any mistake will end your run. Subsequently, this hardcore option is not for the faint of heart. It’ll test your reactions, memory, and skills. It’s devilishly difficult and will make you scream.
Music Racer: Ultimate, is a vast improvement.
New and improved titles are all the rage. Therefore, we are seeing more remastered games because of next-gen consoles. Music Racer: Ultimate pushes its presentation to the limit thanks to its 4K resolution with 120FPS. This jump in performance is noticeable over the original, and the gameplay benefits exponentially. The smooth movement, striking colours, and distinct stage design will capture your attention. Unfortunately, though, for all its positives, there is one glaring oversight. The camera angle is too tight to your vehicle, and this impacts your point of view. Sadly, you’ll miss tokens and hit obstacles that could have easily been avoided. Had the developers incorporated an array of camera angles, then this would have been avoided.
The positives extend to the audio arrangement. With 3 options at your disposal, you are spoilt for choice. First, it is loaded with a variety of chilled and fast-paced electronic songs. These weren’t to my taste, but they suit the theme and were pleasant, regardless. Second, you can temporarily download a song from Audius. This streaming platform has a large selection and you can pick from its vast catalogue. Last, the pièce de résistance is that you can select your own music. Now, this isn’t as straightforward as I’d have liked. You can upload your favourite tune to a server and connect to this from the game. There is a large list of free apps to choose from, but it was too much hassle for my liking. It is a nice idea, however, and adds another layer to the addictive and immersive gameplay.
The analogue stick is too sensitive.
Like Beat Souls, Music Racer: Ultimate suffers from overly sensitive controls. This is a massive flaw when moving to the beat is an essential mechanic. Luckily, though, you can use the d-pad and this removes this issue immediately. Problem solved, you’d think, but unfortunately, it is not. During the harder mode or faster songs, the d-pad isn’t responsive enough and you miss your targets repeatedly. This is an issue that needs to be addressed if the game is to reach its potential.
Sadly, Music Racer: Ultimate fails to evolve past its basic concept. Yes, there are four modes to experience, but these follow the same core principles. Consequently, the action is repetitive, and this negatively affects longevity. On the other hand, players who fall for its charms will adore the challenge of unlocking each level and every vehicle. Moreover, completionists will have to invest hours if they wish to finish it.
Music Racer: Ultimate is a wonderful casual title.
Though I found much of the action to be repetitive, I enjoyed playing it in short bursts. Subsequently, this is a fantastic casual experience. I adored the beautiful futuristic landscapes, the interesting cars, and the unusual stage design. Unfortunately, though, its USP isn’t as user-friendly as I’d have liked and this somewhat undermines it. All things considered, it’s a great arcade title that I recommend you to buy here! Will you be able to move to the beat or will you fail miserably? Pick a car, select your tunes, and pick up every point on offer.