Review: 80's Overdrive (Nintendo 3DS)

Reviewed by Memerz1, posted Nov 26, 2019, last updated Nov 26, 2019
Nov 26, 2019
  • Release Date (NA): December 7, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): December 3, 2017
  • Publisher: Insane Code
  • Developer: Insane Code
  • Genres: Racing, Arcade
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
80's Overdrive is underrated gem on the 3DS e-shop; that I don't really see anyone talk about online for whatever reason. It was released in December of 2017, to little fanfare; And barely any reviews to show for. So today I'm going to be answering the question, is this an actual hidden gem? Or is this just more 3ds e-shop shovel-ware?
So let me start from the beginning. 80's Overdrive is a arcade-style racing game that acts almost as a love letter to old-school racing games, like the Out-run series, and Rad Racer. However, this game runs at a consistent 60 frames per second; And has beautifully crafted set pieces.


Most of the game-play consists of driving through linear tracks, whether it's to win a race, or to beat your record for best time. When you start up the game and create your save file, You're greeted with about 22 pre-set images of the racers you'll race against throught the game. Than you pick your starter car. You start off with a $3000 budget so you can't get the better cars, and only have enough money to afford one. Afterwards; You'll be greeted by three different modes.
Career mode is the main bulk of the game, so this is what I'll be talking about the most. This is basically the main campaign (if you couldn't tell), in where you race other CPU drivers and attempt to win first place. Now this sounds boring, but there's a game-play loop here that you have to consider; your car has a durability, and fuel meter, so when you crash into another vehicle or somewhere on the map; you have to pay to get your car fixed. If you don't get your car fixed, than the next time you crash, it'll take longer and longer to recover. And the longer you go without paying for fuel, the more expensive it'll get. So these are things that you have to consider before upgrading your car, or parts of your car.

Speaking of which, there's only two main upgrades: Nitro Boost, and Police Radar. The Nitro Boost acts as a slight boost for when you crash into something, and you're on the verge of getting left behind in the dust. While the Police Radar is a very handy tool that alerts you when the police try to take you down, and speaking of which; Let's talk about one of the low-points for this game. The police system. It sucks. So basically, in certain races, the police will randomly appear and try to swerve in front of you; and you basically got to predict which way they're going to go. It's an extremely simple pattern to remember, left-right-left-right, but what I don't like about it is that your the only racer in the entire race to get dinged by the cops, and because of this; It can feel as though the game is working against you. And if you run out of money, and can't compete in the next race, you have to do this 10 second stylus mini-game in where you scrub the dirt off of someone else's car for like $15. Not nearly as bad as it sounds actually. The further you go in the career, the rougher the odds will be, like extremely tight turns, hills that you can't see ahead because of the camera, and better ai.


Time Attack is the game-mode that best resemble's outrun in this game. You start off in a beach/seaside environment, and as you race against the clock, you have to turn either left or right at the end of each "stage". In order to gain seconds however, you need to drive near NPC vehicles, but not hit them. If you hit them, you will lose more time than if you were to just drive past them. So it makes it a necessity to play in this "Risk V.S. Reward" style. And since there's branching paths with multiple ways to take, this adds to some replay-ability.
This is the track editor portion of the game, which honestly disappointed me with it's limitations. I purchased this game expecting an F-Zero Climax style track editor, but instead; you get a glorified menu, that lists what location you wan't your track to be (I'll get to that later), Length, how straight it is, how many curves does the track have, how sharp are they, and how many hills? Oh yeah, you can also toggle traffic and the police. But you don't actually see how the track is going to play out, which takes away from most of the fun of a track editor. Most of these custom tracks are indistinguishable from the maps in the base game. (Which are pretty unmemorable as it is, lay-out wise). So with all of the main game modes out of the way, let's finally address the elephant in the room.
The visuals in this game are phenomenal, and probably the games strongest thing going for it. I mentioned the locations earlier, and I wanted to elaborate on that. There's a total of seven unique locations (called themes in game): Seaside, Desert, Mountains, Forest, Elite City, Ancient, and Meadow. Each with it's own visual appeal, and set pieces. Also let's talk about the soundtrack for a second, since it's one of the few memorable things about this game. There's a total of 13 Synthwave tracks in this game (all licenced music, made by actual artists). One thing this game has over games like Out-run though, is you can use the touchscreen to switch tracks during a race. I actually listen to the 80's Overdrive soundtrack to this day. Even if half of it got taken off of YouTube.
Did this game deserve to be forgotten about in 3DS e-shop shovel-ware obscurity? Of course not! While it has it's fair share of flaws, for an indie game that released on the latter-half of the 3DS's life-span; It's not bad by any means. While some-what memorable, I just find it difficult to find any real replayablity, after finishing the main career.
+ Phenomenal/Memorable Soundtrack that sticks
+ Great visuals
+ Exceptional game-play loop
+ Decent controls
- Borderline Impossible Rubber-banding A.I (towards the end of career mode)
- Not much replayability after sinking 10+ hours
- Lack of colors to customize your cars with (only 5)
- Dealing with the police can be annoying when it only affects you and no one else in any of the races
8 Presentation
6 Gameplay
4 Lasting Appeal
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
While rough around the edges, 80's Overdrive is one of the best old-school arcade style racing games released recently that I can think of; And if you have some money to burn, you won't really regret spending it on this.

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