You know what was awesome about the 80s? Speaking as a person who grew up in them, the majorly awesome thing is that they’re over and we won’t have to put up with that wretched decade again. On the plus side, now that they’re 30 years (on average) in the rear-view mirror it’s ok to romanticize the bits worth bringing along to the present. Big hair, video tape, synth-pop, shiny boxy sports cars, basic geometry outlined in neon lights, and a whole world of iconography that prepared the world for the big millennial change gave the 80s a distinctive look that’s easy to ridicule but also a load of fun. Power Drive 2000 mines the 80s for a visual flair that’s applied in ways both obvious and subtle, leaving no inch of screen or aspect of design untouched.
As impressive as the look is, it needs to be applied to a good game in order to have the full effect, and Megacom Games released an ultra-early pre-alpha demo to show off the feel of the racing. The demo is a single level time-trial, the same course featured in the gameplay video from May 20, featuring a flat course past cool blue hills and electric blue palm trees as you race towards a very 80s sunset. It starts off at full speed as the car barrels into the screen, and a hitting the turbo distorts the sun as you blast along even faster. The turbo supply is displayed in the panel at the bottom of the screen, and drifting fills the gauge back up again. You can even drift and boost at the same time if you can keep things under control, which is harder than it looks but also quite possible with practice. The demo level may be one of the simpler ones but the car control already feels arcade-perfect.
While gameplay is the first and most important thing, it’s hard to understate how much of Power Drift’s appeal comes from the sheer volume of design work put into every aspect of the game. From the opening title screen that perfectly captures the feel of the period, to the dashboard instrumentation and the way the logo is pressed into the surface and reflects the light, or the mist rising above the mountains looks like a cheap special effect from a smoke machine, there’s a lot of thought put into every aspect of the presentation and especially the soundtrack. I didn’t even notice the way the neon green piping that defines the shape of the tunnels refracts through what appears to be dust on the screen until I stopped to check out a few details for this article.
There’s a lot of good work put into Power Drive 2000 but a lot more is needed to see it to completion. The announcement that released the demo also gave word of the possibility of a PS4 version (which has since been confirmed), but the Kickstarter campaign is moving a bit slowly at the moment. The initial Steam Greenlight video showed off a nice variety of tracks, from stunt courses with jumps and collectibles to more open tracks littered with obstacles, and the Kickstarter campaign goes into detail about the game modes they apply to. The short version is that Power Drive 2000 looks as awesome as nostalgia pretends the 80s were, which is the whole point of nostalgia in the first place.