Ocean Drive Challenge

I should probably preface this review by noting that I don’t have my drivers license.  Apparently the state of California thinks that I would be a danger to others on the account of my epilepsy.  And yet they still let Mel Gibson drive.  Hmmph.  Well, no matter.  I can still play racing games.  I play them very poorly, but I can still play them!  Over the next three reviews, I’ll be taking a look at some recent racing titles to hit Xbox Live Indie Games.  It might sound redundant to do three like-minded games, but actually all three are very different.  This is because all three picked an entirely different series to shameless copy, or “pay homage to” if you’re all googly-eyed nostalgic for this sort of stuff.

The first one is Ocean Drive Challenge.  It’s a street-racer that borrows from the Sega classic Out Run in the same way that a pick pocket borrows from you.  You choose one of three cars and try to get from point A to point B before time runs out.  That’s pretty much it.  Honestly, the game is a fairly good tribute if you’re into this sort of thing.  It’s not uncommon for an XBLIG clone of a cherished 80s coin-op to be kind of shit, but Ocean Drive Challenge really is pretty damn close to Out Run.  The cars handle the same way, the sense of speed is about the same, and the graphics are light and cartoony.  You even select what kind of music you want playing before the race begins.

All the annoyances of Out Run are here too.  Like being stuck on a two-lane stretch of road and having the left lane contain a gas tanker and the right lane be occupied by a comatose grandmother.  Or the cars interpreting your control movements as polite suggestions that can be gracefully ignored.  There’s also no modes of play besides the main arcade race.  It’s probably beatable but I was never good at these sort of games and could only make it halfway through the course.  Whether you call it Out Run or San Francisco Rush or Cruis’n USA, the time you get back for clearing a checkpoint never seems like it’s enough, at least for me.

Really though, there’s not a whole lot I can complain about here.  I can’t even bitch about this being a game that only nostalgic cocknuggets could find delight in, because it’s actually a well made game.  The cocknugget crowd that sometimes has to shut down parts of their brain to convince themselves that a bad clone is just like the childhood game they remember will probably have their heads explode when they play Ocean Drive Challenge, because it really IS just like the childhood game they remember.  Having said that, if you’re a really big fan of Out Run, why would you need this game?  Wouldn’t you already own it?  Maybe as part of a compilation disc, or on an emulator, or maybe you own the actual arcade cabinet.  Ocean Drive Challenge is close enough to Out Run to be impressive, but also close enough to be useless.  It actually makes me wonder what exactly the developer was thinking.  Making a really accurate clone of a twenty-five year old arcade game on an entirely different platform using completely different tools does take a lot of skill.  Imagine if they had taken that skill and applied it to a new concept.  The results could have been really amazing.  Instead, they did the video game equivalent of spending six years at MIT just to take a job in photocopy machine repair.

Ocean Drive Challenge was developed by need1D

80 Microsoft Points once caused a seven-car, multiple-fatality pileup on a slot car racing track in the making of this review. 

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

11 Responses to Ocean Drive Challenge

  1. Ocean Drive Challenge is missing the split road selection screen at the end of a level along with more levels which would give the game more replay value like the original OutRun did. It needs a time attack and “heart mode” to keep a player coming back. Overall nice game/music/implementation but no replay value.

  2. Moneyballs says:

    The game looks and sounds great but is ruined by the broken gameplay. The cars handle so so badly that it is like controlling a lump of cement and you dont have the speed to avoid cars.
    When you do hit cars you bounce back and often get stuck on the background parts at the side of the road.

    The the road becomes too narrow with too many cars (they even drive in the middle) so it makes it a horrible experience..

    With a bit more work done to it this could have been really really good , and a fitting tribute to Outrun and the arcade racing games of the 1990’s.

    • BrunoB says:

      I agree, some more playtesting was definitely needed, the cars seem to be thrown at random on the road, but I should say that the girl’s car handles pretty well.

      IMHO not a bad game, but could’ve been much better, and Out Run is tons of miles away in terms of class and polish. Still, for 80 MP it’s worth a ride and the highscore screen/music is really spot on.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      This would probably be a good time to point out that Out Run came out three years before I was even born and that it’s not a game I’ve played extensively. Going off my memory of it, I still assert that it’s not too far off from Out Run. Yea, the cars are tricky to handle, but I’ve always believed that of most 80s/90s street racers. It usually depends on the car. The girl’s car I could handle the best.

      Plus I had Brian to remind me “you know, you can corner better if you actually ease off the gas.” Huh. Go figure.

  3. plezfiction says:

    Thanks for the review — I had just looked at that game yesterday but the description seemed a bit odd: “… Choose all characters and see how their personal stories unwined and intertwine. …”

    “Unwined?” Um… anyway… Is there really a story behind each character? Does that have something to do with the text I see in the rear view mirror on the trailer? Is that where the 2/3 Sex 3/3 Mature Content rating comes from? Or are there ta-ta’s bee-boppin’ and scattin’ all over the place? lol

  4. Now I’ve played myself, and…well, while the sense of speed is admirable and it’s visually quite pretty in an 80s arcade sort of way, it suffers from Plugemons Controls™ – that is, it controls like you plugged a brick into your Xbox and hoped for the best.

    Whether you hit another vehicle or not is blind luck, because your attempts to steer have a negligible effect on the movement of the car. Ever paused a game to get a drink, then come back and accidentally picked up controller 2 by mistake? Yeah, it’s like that.

  5. This game is actually very well made, and is uses the classic scanline road engine — something I’m proud to have figured out when I was in grade 8, I released a test demo engine of this called Full Tilt a decade later, and I *still* want to make an actual game out of this, so I’m slightly envious that someone else did. The developer obviously knows the tech, and there’s just something cool about these pseudo 3D games. The music rocks, and the polish is good. Unfortunately, it’s missing several gameplay aspects that almost ruin the game:

    1. The controls are horrible. You can’t move left/right at all. And the fact that you stick to the road’s X value regardless of turns or not lead you to believe that you’re actually turning, but you’re not. It’s like you’re stuck on one of those slot racing tracks, and it stick in the lanes no matter what, but you’re allowed to move very slowly from lane to lane, meaning you can zip around 90 degree turns like nothing, but can’t avoid the car that’s half a mile ahead that’s right in front of you. I remember fine tuning my Full Tilt engine to make sure the pseudo 3D acted like real 3D because it is just demanded by the gamer. They really missed out on this one.

    2. The cars are too large. You can easily fit 2 cars in a single lane on a real highway. They fix this but giving lots of tolerance for collision, but this is something that could’ve been fix easily, and it would appear better.

    3. They missed out on a grand opportunity to really show off the engine. These pseudo 3D engines can do things that real 3D cannot — I will say that and leave it at that. But the things OutRun pulled off with its engine is one of the reasons it was a success, and that will not be found here.

    4. 25,000 pts? For half the race? OutRun had scores in the 10,000,000’s, and it was the first to do this, but it really made you feel you were worth something. I just don’t get game programmers giving away peanuts, when they can just draw ,000 at the end of all the scores and immediately you feel worthy.

    But all in all, the game is good … awesome polish, I can’t get that music out of my head — it’s that awesome. Silky smooth frame rate. OutRun was only 30 fps, this is 60 fps. I think OutRun’s graphics are better, but the graphics in this game has the same feel. And music fits great. Overall I think it’s a great job. Please just fix the controls so it feels like I’m in control.

    P.S. OutRun had awesome controls. I don’t know what everyone here is talking about, but Sega’s arcades absolutely rocked for control — the 80’s arcades belonged to Sega. The car was immediately responsive, no delay or lag, and you could move. To compare this game’s controls to OutRun is a horrible misrepresentation. I could beat the game on the hardest setting (70 seconds on the clock, instead of the standard 75; easy was 80, hard was 72, so 70 must’ve been expert mode) in all of the routes, sometimes with 10 seconds left on the clock from having never crashed. You should squeeze your car in between two transports at top speed. You could ride the edge of a road and hold the tires at squealing point avoiding rocks sitting right on the edges. The control really was that great. And you could sure as hell maneuver between two cars on demand.

    Jason Doucette / Xona Games

    • Re: point 1 – Exactly! Most of the time, the car will corner by itself, but trying to drag the damn thing half a centimetre to the right to dodge a van is all but impossible. Having proper steering would have moved this from ‘promising but no’ to ‘nostalgic yes!’ for me.

    • Regarding my point #3 (i.e. missed out on a grand opportunity to really show off the engine): This is a bit disingenuous. While they didn’t take the engine to the crazy extremes they could have, they did hell of a lot better than most of these styles of racing games. The game is fun to see new stages, and the scenery is great. After 3 plays, I’ve gotten to the penultimate stage, I believe, and the game is very long. You get used to the controls, as with any game, which is perhaps why the developers didn’t realize they were poor.

      Jason Doucette / Xona Games

    • Just wanted to pipe in again and say that I’ve beaten the game with all 3 cars, and the game is actually damn fun. The scenery is great. The controls still are pretty bad and you’ll complain a lot as cars hit you from behind and knock you off the road into the bushes. But for the most part, the game is really fun. All that needs to be fixed is the controls, and to disallow enemy cars to ram you from behind.

      Also when you have 9 seconds left on the clock, you get 900 bonus points on top of a score ~62,000 points. OutRun would give 9,000,000 on top of a score measured in 10’s of millions, making the seconds on the clock the largest bonus of all. This game should follow suit and add three zeros to all scores.

      Further, it takes about 30 seconds to start a new game — this should be 3 seconds, so it’s very frustrating.

      Nonetheless, the game is fun, exciting, and is well worth the $1.
      Buy it.

      Jason Doucette / Xona Games.

  6. Hi,
    This has big similarities to OutRun in the way it is presented and the game model but it really nothing like OutRun in the way of Playability and finesse . Outrun will still be a classic 20 years from now…Ocean Drive Challenge won’t.
    It’s still a quality racing game effort tho.

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