Review: PixelJunk Racers: 2nd Lap
“Let me be the first to say this, but PixelJunk Racers is *not* a racing game.”
–Dylan Cuthbert, creator of Pixeljunk Racers
I remember back in the day when my aunt would take my sister and me to the Grand Prix Raceway, which sounds like it had the grandeur of an international speedway but was, in fact, more like a parish hall with a track in the middle. It was a slot car track, and I remember the fluorescent lights turning half off as two older guys put their cars on the line, ready to race.
I remember that because I always pass by the Raceway on my way to work, now an abandoned building with the red/yellow/green stripes still faintly visible on the side of the weather-worn concrete blocks. I suppose it’s telling that I don’t actually remember any of the slot car racing itself, maybe because slot car racing as a whole just isn’t that memorable to begin with.
So perhaps it’s a testament to Q-Games that they’ve managed to make a unique, if not fun slot racer that seems a lot more fun than the real thing, now in an updated form called Second Lap. This new version of Racers includes the suite of PS3-OS functionalities such as trophies, YouTube uploads, custom music and more, as well as burn-in protection and a much needed adjust in difficulty as well as a new mode called Ghost Attack.
In PixelJunk Racers you go though a single player tourney of events, most all having to do with the white drone cars that litter the track (smash the cars, now dodge the cars, now smash the cars but then dodge them, smash only the white cars, now smash this specific car, smash the black car but don’t smash it a second time, eat the cars, beat the cars, and so on.) The challenges are all fairly standard and there are a few gems hidden in there, as I rather enjoyed the slower challenges since they feel like you have to legitimately use strategy, as opposed to the fast races where you don’t have any time at all to switch lanes to dodge cars. It’s a simple single player game that will keep you busy for 3-4 hours or so, though the gameplay doesn’t inspire me to do it all at once. The new Second Lap features tone down the difficulty quite a bit, as it awards you better ranks and more forgiving bronze/silver/gold earnings. It’s definitely an improvement.
Along with the standard tourney mode is Ghost Attack, which is a very unique idea in that it allows you compete with ghosts and rank up on the leaderboards via a points system. It really feels like you’re playing with another person despite the fact that it’s just a replay ghost, and gets rid of the necessity of having to find a lobby, wait for an opponent, and the issues of lag. It’s an idea that probably won’t benefit most games, but for this one, it’s perfect.
It always felt like the original Racers was the black sheep of the PixelJunk family, with its lack of trophy support and general functionality found in the current PJ games, so it’s nice to get this update to round out the series. The local multiplayer (with seven, yes, seven local player support) is where you’ll get the most fun out of the game, and for a quick burst of gameplay, it’s certainly enjoyable. Just don’t expect the game to compel you to play for hours at a time.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Solid update to the first of the Pixeljunk series.
- Unique Ghost mode is unlike most online racing game offerings.
- Free to all owners of Racers, and replaces the original Racers game in the store.
What I Dislike:
- HD is essentially required to get the most out of the game.
- The game lacks the charm of the later Pixeljunk games.
- Some gameplay elements are very unclear, instruction wise.