Revs iPhone Review

   01/02/2010 at 19:18       Richard Horne       15 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Revs, Big Head Games, Top Down Racer, 2D, 8-Bit

I’ve always been a sucker for old-school, top-down 2D racers, and so when I got the email from Big Head Games announcing their latest release, the glorious 8-bit Revs for the iPhone and iPod Touch, I bought it in a heartbeat. I wasn’t disappointed.

Big Head Games is on a bit of retro kick at the moment and the British developer has gone to back to basics and started producing games with an emphasis on pure gameplay instead of focusing on visuals and polish. Now normally that sounds like a tired excuse for a poor game, but with Revs it’s clear from the outset that designing the graphics with 8-bit limitations in mind actually adds a great deal of charm to the overall experience. The reason being that with this type of game it doesn’t matter whether the vehicles are rendered in glorious 3D or hand painted, pixel-by-pixel, they all still feel the same. And with the core gameplay mechanics distilled down as much as they have, the NES-style aesthetics give you a warm nostalgic glow inside and make the game feel that bit more authentic.

Keeping things simple also applies brilliantly to the controls. So many iPhone games try and fail miserably, to implement an on-screen d-pad and virtual buttons. Instead creating a control scheme that feels loose, vague and lacking in feedback. Revs’ controls couldn’t be any simpler. Your vehicle accelerates automatically and you touch and hold the left hand side of the screen to turn left and the right hand side to turn right. There’s none of that fumbling around trying to re-align your thumbs or stabbing at and missing virtual buttons. It feels instinctive, natural and most importantly for games like this, really responsive. Revs felt like the first racing game I’ve played on iPhone where I could control my car to a satisfactory level instead of constantly over-compensating or missing my mark with the clumsily implemented controls.

Unfortunately though, Big Head Games’ back-to-basics approach is taken to its fullest extreme when it comes to Revs’ sound effects, or lack thereof. Each race is a desperately desolate and silent experience limited to the odd electronic beep every time you collect the cash bonuses strewn across each level, or a quick swoosh when you collect a nitro boost. And that’s it. There’s no funky chip-music soundtrack, gravelly engine roar or digitised voice samples. A fact that unfortunately serves only to lower its score from a cast-iron 5, to a still highly recommended 4.

If you loved Super RC Pro Am, Crazy Iron Man Ivan’s Off-Road Racing or any of those retro 2D top-down racers, then at 59p there’s no question that Revs is an essential purchase. With 8 courses, two modes (Championship and Time Trial), vehicle upgrades, worldwide leader-boards and a glorious visual style that far from making the game look dated, actually enhances it, Rev’s is undoubtedly the best 59p you’ll spend this month. I look forward to Big Head Games next release with great anticipation.

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