RE-VOLT Classic Premium Review

The Incredible Shrinking Racer


My relationship with — and opinion towards — RE-VOLT Classic is a complicated thing indeed. Kart racers, from the ubiquitous Mario Kart series to forgotten gems like Beetle Adventure Racing, are pretty hard to screw up. This one comes close, but it also does quite a few things right. It’s an inconsistent, volatile combination of perks and flaws that still kind of leaves me divided on how I feel towards it. If that sounds like something a grown adult wouldn’t want to admit on the Internet, well, that’s all just part of the job.

The Indianapolis 5

Kart racing games generally aren’t known for their realistic cars or gameplay. RE-VOLT’s menagerie of RC vehicles fits that bill with a definite creative flourish: Instead of, say, go-karts piloted by apes and plumbers, you’re given the keys to a tiny, battery-powered fleet with everything from ambulances to monster trucks to rally racers. I unfortunately can’t say I’ve played the title’s namesake, so I can’t tell you which title is better overall. From a variety standpoint, however, it’s fair to assume the mobile version steals the crown.

The diversity between vehicles shows in both design and gameplay. In my opinion, this is the best thing the game has going for it. It’s a really good best thing, too. Once you’ve unlocked a few new toys you’re almost certain to find a perfect match for your playstyle. As a lifelong gamer with many years of experience being objectively terrible at racing games, I need a car that accelerates as fast as possible to offset all the time I spend hung up on walls or driving in the wrong direction. If you’re capable of playing the game at a semi-competent level… honestly, I don’t even know what you’d look for, since I’ve never been remotely good at a game like this. I’m sure there’s a car for you somewhere, though.

The Ford Fiesta Of Controls

If the cars are my favorite aspect of the RE-VOLT experience, the controls are by far the worst. It isn’t all just me, either. My Certified Review Assistant (AKA my wife) noted a lot of the same things I did without any prompting from me, and she’s far better at racing titles than I am. To answer your question, no, we don’t play Mario Kart together. I don’t know if I could handle that much emasculation.

The biggest shared complaint centers around the game’s buttons. In specific, the buttons on the left side of the screen, which you use to perform the crucial task of turning your car. Many times, pressing them did nothing, which is kind of a huge issue when you’re whipping your battery powered dune buggy around a corner. This made feathering almost impossible. That made impromptu meetings between car and wall much more frequent. The issue was bad enough to make me swear off the title multiple times before inevitably picking it back up again. My Certified Review Assistant’s responses were similar, if a little less drastic. The issue seemed to spring up as frequently on my Nexus 10 as it did my Galaxy S III, so I can’t say the size of the buttons caused it more than outright technical issues. In the end, I can’t call the issue game-breaking, because it’s still quite a bit of fun. Less temperamental gamers may not agree with that sentiment. Even approaching that line is a bad, bad thing for a game to do. I think we can all agree on that.

The Something Else Of Levels

I rather enjoyed the way developer WeGo Interactive handled the track design in relation to its tiny racers. Some environments, like Toy World and the awesomely named Toys in the Hood, play up the difference in size between the cars and the world they race in, sending you dipping under parked cars on suburban streets and dashing to make it through a supermarket’s automatic doors before they close. Others follow a certain theme (for instance, the Botanical Garden) and make everything fit on the same scale. As with the vehicles, you’ll unlock most of the selection as you go along.

I wasn’t nearly as fond of the consistency between those levels. Some tracks are a blast; others are bad enough to make you grit your teeth when they pop up in a championship series. Some of this boils down to personal opinion, of course, and I certainly wouldn’t dock a game for making subjective design decisions. A larger percentage seem to come down to objective things, and that’s where the trouble starts. I cannot count the times I found myself going the wrong way without so much as turning. Toys in the Hood is particularly bad about this — it was responsible for more fake swear-offs than any of its brethren — in the final curves. I suppose I can get behind sending the player the wrong way as a punishment for missing an obvious twist, sure — I can’t handle taking something that looks and acts like a shortcut and ends up sending me into oncoming traffic with little warning.

The Good Kind Of Borrowing

Much of the game — most notably the power-up system — draws inspiration from the above-mentioned Mario Kart series. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a formula that’s fueled parties and ruined friendships for decades now. Why copy anything but the best? The actual function of those powerups is where the game branches off. This, too, works. Just maybe not as well. For all the cool additions like the electrified car shield and bowling ball (think Mario Kart’s banana peels, only rounder and heavier), there’s a stinker like the horribly weak water balloon attack. As a total package, the borrowed ideas fit right in beside the new stuff.

A Definite Perhaps

At a whopping five bucks at current writing, I don’t know that I can offer a blanket recommendation to try RE-VOLT Classic. As much fun as the game and the genre it sits in are, I probably wouldn’t be happy if I purchased it for personal enjoyment. I don’t know that I would have gone the refund route with it. I can’t say I wouldn’t, either. If you want to give it a try, make sure to cram as much gameplay as you can into the return window. Fifteen minutes should be more than enough to decide whether it’s up your alley or not. I still don’t know if it’s up mine. Maybe the car’s stuck on the wall leading up to it or something. Pretend someone played a rimshot after that joke. I’m outta here.

3.7 / 5


RE-VOLT Classic nails it in some places and totally drops the ball in others. Buyer beware -- and try to make a decision before the return period's up. tweet

Evan Wade · May 10, 2013

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