Built for Speed – Retro racing on the go

The game’s splash screen featuring quality pixel art.

Built for Speed is a mobile racing game developed by Meizi Games from Oulu, Finland, EU. The free-to-play game was recently soft launched in select countries and is currently available in Finland. In the game, players drive race cars in small race tracks in quick matches, earn money from the matches, and use that to purchase cars, car upgrades and track pieces. The game also features a track editor where players can create their own race tracks and share them with other players.

Core gameplay: turn left or right better than others.

The game’s asynchronous multiplayer functionality means that the cars cannot collide, slipstream with other cars, use powerups nor otherwise affect the driving performance of other players. The player is matchmade to race against other players’ ghost cars. The first couple of games are really easy, but as matchmaking activates, the difficulty curve ascends rapidly. Some players seem to have noticed this and try to game the matchmaking algorithm itself by driving well against easy opponents, but then driving in circles and waiting at the finish line to finish the race just before the second car, so that they would not be matchmade with too hard opponents.

The player can upgrade their car to go faster. I mean, it’s Built for Speed.

Although the core game lacks player interaction, the track editor makes the game more interesting. It reminds me of the countless hours spent with the track editor of the classic DOS PC game Stunts (4D Sports Driving) from 1990. The editor is initially quite basic and limited in functionality, but as you progress in the game and complete tours, you gather more track pieces to add variety to your tracks. You also earn money when others play your track. However, the game seems to provide only three save slots for the tracks, only one of them is free while the others cost hard currency to unlock, and I couldn’t figure out if I can erase or modify any tracks that I’d already published. It seems like a wasted opportunity. Are the developers running short on server capacity and need to artificially limit the rate at which players are willingly creating and refining content for their game? I hope they draw more inspiration from other games like Big Bang Racing for user-generated content, or the Micro Machines mobile game for the player experience of collecting virtual vehicles.

The sandbox track editor is particularly fun to play with.

The game’s art style has a retro look and feel of sorts, combining pixel art with low poly 3D. Music takes inspirations from old school music trackers and some chiptune influences can be spotted. It initially sounds great, but turns somewhat repetitive over time. I found it cute that the game actually includes a Finnish translation. Albeit a partial translation that probably doesn’t increase revenues substantially, it’s always respectable when developers take pride in localizing their games to their own country.

Title: Built for Speed
Developer: Meizi Games
Platform: Mobile (iOS, Android)
Genres: Racing (top-down motorsports)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Released: June 2016 (Android), November 2016 (iOS)
Languages: English (UK), Portuguese (Brazil), Finnish

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