Drift Through Checkpoints In Slipstream’s Demo


I was always fascinated by the fake 3D worlds of racers like OutRun, Road Rash, and Lotus Turbo Challenge. Roads banked by trees, lamps, and buildings wind through vast and otherwise-empty plains, while mountains and endless cities scroll through parallax layers in the distance. They’re unreal in a way I’m deeply dippy about.

I am quite enjoying the look of Slipstream [official site], an upcoming racer recreating those old fake 3D techniques and their impossible landscapes. A new demo’s out on Itch if you fancy a go.

Slipstream will have you winding and drifting through traffic as a timer ticks down, trying to reach checkpoints to add extra seconds. It has a nice touch of offering multiple routes, with turn-offs popping up that’ll take you through different landscapes next.

Slipstream’s demo is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Itch. On the downside, it does require Java to run. The full game is expected to launch before the end of September.

Drift Stage is also worth a look if you dig drifty retro-styled racers, though it uses 3D to look like those sprite-based games and focuses on drifting way, way more. Good drifting, that game. It has a demo too. Anyway, here’s a video showing Slipstream’s latest demo:


  1. Danda says:

    Did the games from the good old times have drifting? I’m seeing it all the time in the new retro arcade racing games and it feels off to me.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m too busy being put off by the chunky, pixellated car emitting native-res, alpha-blended smoke particles when it does. I can’t believe anyone looked at that and thought “yes, this is a pleasant, cohesive art style”.

      • FaceHaver says:

        Given that the game isn’t yet complete, I think it’s reasonable to give the developers the benefit of the doubt and assume that the smoke particles (and high-resolution Helvetica text in the HUD) aren’t final.

        Personally, I find the JRE requirement substantially more troubling than a few (probably placeholder) assets rendered at an inconsistent resolution.

        • aldo_14 says:

          Personally, I find the JRE requirement substantially more troubling than a few (probably placeholder) assets rendered at an inconsistent resolution.


          • zarniwoop says:

            I’m not installing JRE on any computer of mine any more. It’s a security nightmare.

            If I needed it for something critical I would, it’s not out and out malware, but definitely not for a mildly amusing looking game demo. There are decent free engines out there and it seems a bit shortsighted for a developer to choose to use this one instead of safer and more popular alternatives.

          • alms says:

            For those concerned about security issues, surely you can get rid of the browser plugin and not lose your sleep?

      • mugsgame says:

        For me it’s the high-res anti-aliased UI font that breaks things. Still I admire the craft it took to get the faux 3D.

    • Kefren says:

      I sort-of agree – I am not sure what drifting is (I don’t drive). To me it just seems to be “cornering” or “turning”, so it makes me wonder if it is just a word for something I am used to in these games, or if it will feel different. Will it add anything, or take it away?

      • Dilapinated says:

        Drifting is different from turning in that it involves the tires (and whole car) skidding sideways as the turn happens. And yes, drifting was a central mechanic to the games this one harks back to (specifically Outrun).

        • alms says:

          Granted, I only played the very old Outruns (coin op and C64 IIRC) but I don’t remember them having drifting.

          • Geebs says:

            They didn’t, the only actual gameplay mechanic OutRun, Hang On etc. has was that you slid sideways if you went round a bend too fast.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, a quick look at a Lotus 3 longplay shows understeer, not drifting.

    • Harlander says:

      Well, there was Power Drift in 1988 (I saw it on the C64…)

  2. Kefren says:

    I do think it looks and sounds lovely. I suspect that the third stage shown, the beach, should probably be the first stage… ;-)

  3. Freud says:

    You could get away with shallow gameplay like that in the 90s, but I don’t think you can these days.

    • Risingson says:

      Exactly what I thought. I was wondering what pushed you to go forward in games like OutRun, and it was seeing new graphics, landscapes and not much more. Either the developer invests a lot in the visual design or the game just turns out to be a gimmicky nostalgia artifact.

      • Risingson says:

        Btw, there are cues to “Lamborghini American Challenge” – one of the games I played the most back then – all over the place, starting with the car.

        • Llewyn says:

          I assume the car’s supposed to be a Nissan Z32, but it looks like a cut-and-shut job with a Lotus Esprit in that top image.

          Hang on, it’s Sunday, this can’t be the Foxer.

    • silkforcalde says:

      Not really. In the 90s, we didn’t have cinematic cutscenes or such flashy graphics to distract us from shallow gameplay, so gameplay was king.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yes. Retro graphics are fine, but there’s a reason why no one has kickstarted a retro racing game based on the “classic” racing games of the 80s in the same way that there have been scores of kickstarters based on 80s and 90s adventure games, shooters, and RPGs: the racing games of the time kind of sucked. They mostly boiled down to “push accelerate and don’t hit the other objects in front of you.” Some, like Pole Position, would add precisely timed shifting, but due to the lack of any realistic physics engines, they tended to be kind of straight forward and limited in their gameplay. More so than any other genre of the time, they really did rely more on “good for the time” graphics and the novelty of their faux-car shaped cabinets than their gameplay as a selling point.

      Judging from the trailer I’m not sure why anyone would want to play this for longer than 5 minutes. The graphics are charming at first, but incredibly repetitive, even more so than the early 90s racing games from which it seems to be drawing inspiration. And the racing itself doesn’t seem very fluid or interesting. Maybe this is just a tech demo, though, I don’t know.

    • Mr_Blastman says:

      Oh get real. I think it looks fun!

  4. Amstrad says:

    It’s a shame this isn’t “Outrun Nights”. Now there’s a redo of the Outrun concept that had legs: link to boingboing.net

  5. Shazbut says:

    Well this had my heart from the title screen. Does look a little shallow though

  6. coppernaut says:

    Reminds me of Rad Racer for the NES. Would play.

  7. bill says:

    I played a lot of games like this back in the day, but I can’t say the idea of playing a game like that now appeals to me. They were like that because that was all we could do, not because they wanted to be like that.

    I’m not sure I can articulate why, but this doesn’t have the appeal of something with retro pixel art.

    Are they doing anything new with the gameplay? If it was in this visual style, but with modern full 3d gameplay, or some kind of twist, then that would appeal. But I think there’s a difference between making a homage to old style games, and just making an old game.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m inclined to think this sort of gameplay doesn’t need modernization — as long as the car feels good to drive and the sound and graphics are engaging, it’s a success. It is, after all, based on games that were made to be played for minutes at a time.

  8. Geebs says:

    This particular breed of racing games was terribly disappointing even back in the ST/Amiga days. They always looked like they would be brilliantly exciting and sounded great, but there was never any worthwhile gameplay – and that includes the ones which tried to be sims, but were actually nightmares of rubber-banding, like Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. Adding fake “drifting” doesn’t help matters.

    On the other hand, if somebody were to do a remake of Stunt Car Racer…

    • Eukatheude says:

      You mean a remake of THE BEST DRIVING GAME OF ALL TIME, yes?

      • Eukatheude says:

        By which I meant Stunts/4D Sports Driving. I messed up the titles and being unable to edit posts kinda sucks.
        But yeah, Trackmania isn’t half bad now that I think of it.

        • Geebs says:

          The genius of Geoff Crammond’s Stunt Car Racer was that you could see the car gradually fall apart as you abused it though jumping too high or cornering too fast – a literal crack extended through the roll cage which made up part of the UI. It gave you an absolutely direct way of seeing in real time how badly the car was getting screwed up, so every single race was full of decisions to drive just hard enough, and incur just enough damage without getting wrecked before the end of the race.

          While it’s good fun, Trackmania’s cars are basically indestructible unless they go off the track, so that balancing act isn’t there.

    • LionsPhil says:

      SCR was amazing.

    • jrodman says:

      I don’t know if anyone could really improve on the Null modem link experience!

  9. sonofsanta says:

    At 1:46 it even has the random Ionic columns built in the middle of nowhere, apropos of nothing, that I remember from the Amiga days — could’ve been Jaguar XJ220, might have been Lotus 2.

    Honestly, a terrible idea in terms of road safety.