As is enjoyable racer Horizon Chase Turbo.
It’s very much a case of ‘gotta go faster’ this week on the Epic Games Store, where Sega’s masterful retro platformer reimagining Sonic Mania and the excellent old-school arcade racer Horizon Chase Turbo are both currently free.
2017’s Sonic Mania, if it somehow managed to pass you by, sees developer Christian Whitehead and team serving up a sumptuous smorgasbord of classic side-scrolling platforming, meticulously designed to evoke the breathless left-right thrills of Sonic’s 16-bit heyday.
Brand-new stages sit alongside beloved classics taken from Sonic 1 through Sonic & Knuckles – all thoroughly, expertly remixed to form playful new challenges – and the package is topped off with vibrant visuals and a flawless soundtrack, both managing to perfectly capture the spirit of Sonic’s original Mega Drive adventures.
As Edwin Evans-Thirlwell put it in his Essential review, “Mania takes everything that was memorable about Sega’s pioneering 2D platformers – that joy in momentum always teetering on the brink of disaster, the deranged magnificence of those levels, the mournful bassnote as poor, faithful Tails stampedes into all the traps you’ve just triggered in passing – and rejuvenates it, to the point where you can only put down the pad in astonishment.”
As for developer Aquiris Game Studio’s Horizon Chase Turbo, it’s a refreshingly unfussy and wonderfully compelling racer that takes its cues from the arcade racing classics of the 80s and 90s, such as Out Run, Lotus Turbo Challenge, and more.
It’s a incredibly generous package too, stuffed with vibrant, globe-spanning tracks – 109 in total, spread across 48 cities and 12 cups – and featuring a relentlessly catchy soundtrack from Barry Leitch, who served as sound designer on the likes of Lotus Turbo Challenge. Then there are leaderboards, an online competitive ghost mode, and even a split-screen multiplayer mode for up to four players. It would be an understatement to say I’ve played this one quite a lot.