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.

User Comments:

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peej - on 02/02/2010 at 08:34 wrote:
I am so having this. I had a look at it on the iTunes store the other day and the screenies don't really do it justice. The footage looks ace though and makes me want to dig out my emulator copies of Ivan Ironman Stewart's Off Road - and a bit of Super Sprint.

NewYork - on 02/02/2010 at 11:27 wrote:
Finally an iPouch game that doesn't overdo the controls.

Liking the pixellated look, too.

The dude in the video is a bit rubbish.

I'd check out a demo.

HairyArse - on 02/02/2010 at 11:43 wrote:
Yeah the controls are absolute spot on. I love that you can just tap/hold anywhere on each side of the screen instead of having to re-align your thumbs over an imaginary thumbstick or buttons. It feels really great.

Now if someone would just re-make Rock and Roll Racing that would be awesome.

peej - on 02/02/2010 at 11:53 wrote:
Ahhh from the footage the controls did look a bit invasive but it sounds like they're not.

As NY said though, really would check out a demo - but I guess for 59p it's not going to break the bank.

Flying_Pig - on 02/02/2010 at 12:11 wrote:
Could well be another iPhone game I'll buy this week. Shame about the lack of sound effects/music though

peej - on 02/02/2010 at 12:15 wrote:
Dang. No custom soundtracks?

Kay - on 02/02/2010 at 12:56 wrote:
This looks cool, and a definite buy at 59p for me. Needless to say I love the retro look of the game. Lack of music is a bit of a downer, but most iPhone games have rubbish soundtracks anyway, as long as it has support for iPod music in-game than I'll be happy.

peej - on 02/02/2010 at 13:21 wrote:
Yeah I meant iPod music as a background rather than custom soundtracks, don't really see enough games with that as an option.


NewYork - on 02/02/2010 at 13:26 wrote:
I always thought you could force music to play over any app.

Kay - on 02/02/2010 at 13:35 wrote:
You can most of the time, but some apps inexplicably stop it playing... Angry Birds, for example, even though the game itself doesn't even have any music!

And then there are games like Crush the Castle, which keep the music playing over the in-game music and sound effects (with no option to mute, as far as I can see). Anyway, a custom soundtracks option should be mandatory in all iPhone games imo (as well as a flip-screen option).

peej - on 04/02/2010 at 09:34 wrote:
I am so rubbish at this. Bought it on Hairy's recommendation and it's superb retro stuff. I just need to get better at it.

At least it doesn't chop you out of the championship if you lose a race.

Kay - on 04/02/2010 at 11:15 wrote:
I'm rubbish at it too. :)

Nice game, but the package is a bit barebones... and as far as I can see there's no way to save championship progress.

peej - on 04/02/2010 at 11:25 wrote:
Aye I'd noticed that, it doesn't seem to save state between games - which is a shame.

Still, for 59p it's pretty much what I expected.

NewYork - on 04/02/2010 at 11:32 wrote:
From watching the vid, it didn't appear like there was anything more the player could've done - the competition is just too unforgiving.

HairyArse - on 05/02/2010 at 10:27 wrote:
He could have taken the shortcut!

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Better late than never, eh Ror?
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Enjoyed this, cheers!
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