When I heard about an 8-bit racer that was big on music, my mind went one place: F-Zero. I watched the trailer, and the game looked interesting and the music was great. I played the first level, and the music was great and the gameplay was interesting but not nearly as I thought it was. Then I played the second song… and…it was exactly the same… as was song 3, 4, 5…etc. My F-Zero dreams were crushed.
Let’s take a step back. Spectra is an indy game created for Windows, Steam, and Xbox One by GATEWAY INTERACTIVE. The premise is that it is a racing game that is based on music. The music is spectacular. However, I can’t exactly call it a racing game since you’re the only car on the track, and there’s no finish line. You “race” until the song is over, which you do have a percentage and time until song is over. The big hook to the game is that if you fall off of the course, the song is over and you have to start again. The track is procedurally generated, meaning the “point chips” and blockers that are on the path are randomized to an extent. The blockers will stop your combo and attempt to throw you off the course.
There are 10 tracks to this game. Each track is a different song and the course will be created for you. Once you have unlocked all 10 tracks, you can play through on a harder difficulty, involving more blockers and faster ‘car.’
Here’s the big problem with the game: if you play the first 5 minutes, you’ve played the whole thing. In my opinion, if a game advertises the music and the courses are based on music, it should..I don’t know, be rhythmic to an extent. Let the chips be picked up in rhythm to the song; if I speed up or slow down, do so to the track; do SOMETHING that allows me to not be able to mute the TV and have no idea whatsoever what song I am doing because the racing is not affected in the slightest.
The game advertises itself as being big with oldschool graphics and twitch skills. Let me shoot this down quickly. Sure, the music is old school, but the game looks nothing like 8-bit. It is too fluid, and “colorful.” So it gets an X there. As for the twitch skills, the ‘thing’ you fly is very floaty control wise. In stead of having certain paths you jump in and out of, you glide over the course, meaning you may or may not be moving how you need to be, especially when the ‘road’ is 80% blockers and you have to bob and weave, which just ends up with you ramming through 10 blockers hoping you don’t fly off the side of the course. So another X.
I hate to be hard on a game, but there is very little that is great or memorable about Spectra. The music is one of the coolest soundtracks I’ve heard in a game in a while, but it cannot pull this game up, especially since the music doesn’t mean anything gameplay wise, which if it would have, this game would have been A LOT better. I appreciate the creativity and the attempt to capture the charm of games of ‘ole, but there are a few dead pixels in this game.
This is why I give Spectra a 5.1 out of 10.
**Side note: This game was delisted on the Xbox One back in the beginning of December. It is possible it could go back up, but no information has been mentioned at this time. If you do want to pick this up (God be with you), you can do so on Windows devices, and Steam for less than $10.**