Jun 16, 2014
Wrong Way Racing, from Cubed series creator Jared Bailey of No Can Win, takes a curious approach to the swiftly-developed, challenging, high-score game, a genre I’ve coined “flaplikes” after Flappy Bird. See, it’s a game not so much about the player, but their opposition: and it becomes a mind game as much as a challenging test of pinpoint skill.
See, the threat in Wrong Way Racing is the series of cars that are racing the ‘right way’ – avoiding crashing into them is the goal. There’s only two lanes, so getting in the one that they’re not in is paramount. But see, where many games are about keeping an eye on where the player character is, and making sure they don’t hit the obstacles, success in this game comes from watching the opposition.
The line of opposing cars will make moves into the other lane around turns with such subtlety that it can be hard to see when it happens. At first, it might seem natural to just try and get out of the way when possible, but there’s the threat of moving from safety to danger. So, the key is actually to watch the computer cars: keep an eye on when they shift lanes â€“ if they shift lanes â€“ and only move accordingly. There’s a second part to this: knowing where the car you control is. This is pretty much based on memory, or catching quick reminder glances in the brief moments of safety from the other cars. The game gets steadily faster, but once the speed is acclimated to, it becomes a mental struggle more than anything to keep track of where everyone is.
Oh, and the way that the game will have the opposing cars stay in one lane for a few turns? It’s gut-wrenching because that anticipated shift just never comes. Jared Bailey, you devious developer, you.
The game is fairly basic, but there’s a fascinating depth inside of it. There’s basic voxel visuals similar to Cubed Rally Redline, Bailey’s house style, and the game restarts very quickly, with a free price and only occasional ads. Not game of the year, but among the flaplike crowd, it’s fascinating and worth checking out.