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Back to Basics: Classic Sport Driving Review

Classic Sport Driving is the brainchild of Sylvain Debaudringhien of Pixel Wrappers, whose love for Amiga racing games like Jaguar XJ220 and Lotus Turbo Challenge made him want to create a modern equivalent.

The game has gone through a complicated development phase – we tested the first demo back in October 2021 – but a full 20 months later, it’s finally here in full release, boasting novel features like a random title generator and competitive online leaderboards.

But given the plethora of retro-inspired racing games on the market, does Classic Sport Driving stand out from the crowd and does it play like a re-imagining of the Amiga classics it’s inspired by?

Back to basics

The similarities between Classic Sport Driving and games like Jaguar XJ220 and Lotus Turbo Challenge are clear from the start. Your car is at the very bottom of the screen, while the horizon and skybox take center stage at the top.

This improves forward visibility, but it still feels like some corners came out of nowhere, especially over crests. Luckily, the vehicle’s handling is good and your car tends to understeer – don’t expect fancy outrun-style drifting here. However, it feels grippy enough and is quick to respond to gamepad input (I initially went old school and tried keyboard controls, but it’s safe to say a gamepad felt far better).

This is where the game’s two handling modes come in, with Arcade mode offering a simpler, more straightforward experience. Pro, on the other hand, encourages players to brake liberally to maintain momentum.

This is the same car and livery combo you have to use throughout the game

The action in Classic Sport Driving rushes by at breakneck speed as the task is to drive from point to point as quickly as possible to earn a rating of up to three stars. The action doesn’t let up as you progress through each level with a seemingly endless number of enemy AI cars to evade.

Curiously, there is no position indicator and no oncoming traffic, so the AI ​​cars – which are all identical – simply act as mobile chicanes.

environmental health

There are seven environments to tackle with varying weather and road conditions – day and night – with a 16-race campaign mode providing a solid but relatively short challenge. The real difficulty is getting a three star rating at all levels, which realistically takes some practice.

Each campaign stage is roughly 21 kilometers long, so only the most dedicated players will have the time or patience to memorize each layout (after all, it’s like trying to learn 16 different Nürburgring Nordschleife loops). However, most tracks are easy enough to allow the player to progress on their first playthrough.

Overall, I played more handling in Arcade mode, but the Pro tier added an extra layer of skill to the action and made the car feel livelier when braking. However, the increased difficulty will likely result in the majority of players sticking with Arcade.

Classic sports driving, PCThe train distances are impressive

Drive to survive

The gameplay is of course retro-inspired, with players having to reach the next checkpoint before the timer runs out. However, when the counter reaches zero, your car will slow down but won’t stop immediately, giving you a few precious seconds to reach the goal.

There are also nitro symbols scattered throughout each stage, which offer a small speed boost when hit, but those pesky AI cars always seem to swerve blindly in front of you at the crucial moment. Bah.

Classic sports driving, PCThe snow depths indicate a slippery road surface

You don’t need friends when you have leaderboards

Another major selling point of Classic Sport Driving is its online leaderboards. This is an added incentive for players to shave off the last tenths of their stage times and go head-to-head with the best in the world.

The online leaderboards somewhat make up for the lack of local or online multiplayer modes, but still these feel like significant omissions – I mean even Jagaur XJ220 had a local split-screen mode where players participate in the main game could campaign together.

Daily challenges are also available at launch – somehow I got myself into pole position for today (June 13) – so there’s an incentive to replay the game every day to maintain your status as a top performer.

Classic sports driving, PCIt’s like home in Scotland

traces of my tears

Although Classic Sport Driving has a decent selection of vanilla tracks, Pixel Wrappers has also added a track generator.

Entering a track name will create a custom stage with randomized environment values ​​and length. Players can share this with their friends and compete for the top spot on the leaderboard (each vanilla and generated track will have its own online leaderboard).

Classic sports driving, PCEwe shouldn’t hit those sheep. It’s baaad.

It’s a new feature that has its origins in racing games of the 90’s. Both Lotus Turbo Challenge 3 and Jaguar

Classic sports driving, PCTop of the Daily Challenge leaderboard…for now

We created our own route and put it online for everyone to try to beat the finish time. Trust me it won’t be long…

Just enter “#Traxion” as the title name. Much luck!

Missed opportunity

While there’s a lot to like about Classic Sport Driving – the soundtrack is excellent, the graphics are colorful and crisp, and the handling is the fun side of arcade games – it feels like the game could use more content.

For example, there are no customization options at all, since there is no way to upgrade, paint or even change the car. That’s right: you’re stuck with the same car for the entire game. It’s a superficial but nonetheless relevant point. Also, the lack of real-time online multiplayer or local split-screen seems like a missed opportunity.

Classic sports driving, PCThe snow and rain effects are effective and pretty pretty

For fans of the genre, however, Classic Sport Driving is definitely worth exploring. It offers a nostalgic look at racing games of yesteryear but with added visual power. Classic Sport Driving plays well and feels like it would fit perfectly on a handheld console (although it’s not currently rated for Steam Deck, but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work flawlessly).

It certainly won’t be for everyone, and its price tag may put some casual racing gamers off, but it’s a short and sweet throwback to the glory days of two-dimensional arcade racing games, even if it lacks a bit of variety in content.

Classic Sport Driving is available now for PC via the Steam Store priced at $14.99/£12.99/€14.99. In the game’s first week of release, players can enjoy a discounted price of $13.49/£11.69/€13.49.

The Traxion.GG Review's Verdict: Consider

developer Pixel wrapper
release date June 12, 2023
Available Platforms PC-Steam)
version tested PC-Steam)
Best to play with it gamepad

Full Disclosure: This game was provided by the publisher for testing purposes. You can find our evaluation guidelines here.

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