Overview – developed by VIJUDA and published by Eastasiasoft, Super Woden GP is an isometric racing game inspired by the arcade games from the 90s. Take over 70 cars from 6 manufacturers across the world in championships and tournaments to determine the best driver. This title is available on all major console platforms, with a link to each version of the game at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Eastasiasoft for providing the copy of Super Woden GP that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has no influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment as there is little in terms of plot for this release.
Gameplay – the gameplay loop for Super Woden GP is similar to that of the traditional motorsport games on the market. The player must use a provided amount of credits to purchase their starting vehicle from one of 6 manufacturers, with the cars featured being based on the manufacturers region. The cars available include those from Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy with many recognisable albeit copyright friendly designs.
Once the player has chosen their first car, they will be able to enter races in order to earn credits for additional cars, as well as new tracks and races to participate in. The races are separated into championships, with single track and multi-track contests for the player to challenge. There is also a free race mode, which allows for multiplayer split screen, practice races and solo time trials with fastest times posted to a worldwide leader board.
In the championship modes, the races will take place on a variety of tracks, which include traditional circuit layouts and rally style stages. The circuit tracks feature multiple laps, whereas the rally stages have a start point and end point with no connection. Championships can also have restrictions attached to them, requiring the player to have a car below a specific power level, a specific model and more.
The racing itself differs from that of the traditional motorsport title, with an isometric camera that the game uses as its main selling point. However, this is the biggest hindrance to the overall game experience. This is due to poor track visibility cause by the environment, turn indicators that provide little if any guidance and the fact that controls can feel inverted when driving counter clockwise. These issues can negatively impact the flow of gameplay significantly for players.
There are other unfortunate flaws that hamper the overall racing experience for this title. The most common problem that players will encounter during the early stages of the game is difficulty with vehicle handling. When taking turns, the cars can become unwieldy as they swing from side to side, making it very difficult for players to maintain a steady speed around corners.
The overall handling and driving experience is also made worse by the off-road collision, which can cause vehicles to slow to a crawl. When this happens attempting to manoeuvre back onto the track can feel like trying to sail a yacht through concrete. Together these issues permeate the game to its core and sadly spoil the potential that is present, which has the chance to disappoint those who expect a snappy arcade style racer.
There is a wide variety of cars that are present and there are many tracks to race on, but the rewards system for this title make it feel like a grind. Unless the player spends a lot of time learning to handle each corner and turn of a track, the progression of the game can become a frustrating time sink. This is due to the low pay-outs (if any) that players will receive when placing any lower than 3rd place in a race, making the unlocking of new cars tedious at times.
The progression of the career modes compound the slow advancement that players can face, with new tracks being locked behind a star requirement. This means that players must place first in most races in order to unlock the rest of the championships, which artificially inflates the gameplay length making it take longer for players to progress. The overall progress that players will see is likely to be very slow, with the difficulty handling vehicles and the camera issues as the root cause.
Outside of the championships, there are some additional touches to the game, including a garage where players can select cars, a stats page and a music player. These extra features add little if anything to the overall gameplay experience, but are nice touches to give players more to do outside of the race gameplay. The multiplayer and world leaderboards give some extra depth to the game, however in the areas that it matters most the experience is lacking.
Now with the gameplay covered, it is time to discuss the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control method for this release is relatively easy to understand, but can be very difficult to learn. The cars are difficult to handle at speed, with the potential for the lightest touch to make the car swing wildly on the track. This is made worse by the inverted feeling that the reverse tracks will give the player, causing confusion and frustration during play. The overall feel of the controls is comfortable, but is not the most intuitive during gameplay.
Difficulty – this is a difficult game to get to grips with, where most of the challenge stems from the flaws of navigating the track. There is an easy mode which modifies the speed of AI drivers and “enhances” the handling of cars, but it makes little difference to the gameplay itself. The game is hard to play in general, which can be incredibly frustrating for all players who expect an arcade style game and not a motorsport sim style title.
Presentation – the visuals for this game are relatively solid, with some nicely detailed track and interface elements that work well. The cars for the most part have little in terms of detail at a distance, making them look like rolling boxes when the camera is zoomed out. The game runs at a good pace, with no performance drops in either handheld or docked mode. The music for this game has a good variety to it, with electronic and chip tune tracks that match the game well.
Final Thoughts – I wanted to enjoy Super Woden GP, due to the impression that this was an arcade racing game from the promotional materials that were shown. However, this is no Neo-Drift Out or Over Top. This is more akin to motorsport simulation games like those based upon the F1 and WRC licenses, with difficult to handle cars and a relatively steep learning curve. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this title, as I feel it isn’t the accessible racing game that the trailers portray.
The whole game can feel like a grind, as the slow progression and pitiful payouts from races artificially extend the length of play. There are some redeeming qualities, with the abundance of unlockable cars, tracks to race on and the multiplayer/online features, but they are not enough to save what is (in my opinion) a frustrating experience. It had a lot of potential, but the poorly balanced gameplay loop has spoiled what might have been. However, if you are a fan of motorsport sims, you may get more mileage out of this release.
In the end, I give Super Woden GP a final score of 2.5/5. This title presents itself as a throwback to classic isometric arcade racers of the past, but sadly falls short of the potential that it has. The long grind to unlock vehicles, the visibility issues of upcoming turns and the difficulties faced with the controls as a whole mars what could have been an excellent arcade racer. If you do want to check this game out for yourself a link to each version is below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation version (HERE)
Link to Xbox version (HERE)