If you have ever seen movies such as Crank, Run Lola Run or Hardcore Henry, then you may have a fairly decent idea of what Speed Limit is aiming for. For those who aren’t quite as familiar, just think non-stop, adrenaline-fueled chaotic action where moving continuously towards an unknown goal is the only possible way to survive.
This fast-paced pixel-pursuit sees an average Joe Bloggs just chilling on a train minding his own business. Suddenly, a beat-up, down-and-out fella tosses a revolver towards the idle bystander, which inevitably leads him to stand centre stage against an army of goons on a million-mile murder spree across the concrete and the clouds.
Speed Limit plays around with a multitude of genres by starting out as a run ‘n’ gun action-platformer to then segway into a Spy Hunter-esque top-down car chase. The action then continues on as the camera pans behind the protagonist as he hops onto a superbike, Hang-On style, before piloting a chopper at a Desert Strike perspective against a fleet of navy ships. Finally, we see our unlikely hero take to the skies even higher in a fighter jet similar to, you guessed it, After Burner. Except for this time the camera is aiming directly head-on towards you for the absolute sake of it.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Well, on paper it certainly does. However, in practice not so much. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that Speed Limit is borderline insulting. Ironically enough, the biggest problem with Speed Limit is that it never actually feels like it ever picks up momentum.
The sheer abundance of reactive guesswork and blind trial and error involved had me progressing at a snail’s pace as the game constantly rewinds back to the last boring checkpoint. The way obstacles and enemies are situated across stages completely imbalances a poorly-implemented one-hit-kill rule, and the telltale signs that the player has to respond to are nigh near impossible to read.
During the brief moments where blind luck was on my side, the repetitive gameplay throughout would feel incredibly dull regardless of what genre Speed Limit was attempting to feed me. The intolerable clunky controls and mindless finger-crippling button-spamming really doesn’t help matters either. All of which genuinely led me to believe that such cheap fairground mechanics are the only things the developer could think of to try and force any form of longevity.
Just to give you an example of how long Speed Limit is. If I were to cut the death count by 90 percent, the game would more than likely be beaten and finished within half an hour. Now if this was an Ikaruga half an hour, I would be applauding its incredibly steep yet clever learning curve, for a game that demands respect to reach its end let alone to be mastered. Unfortunately, Speed Limit provides no such vibe of any sort. Honestly, I got more depth and entertainment out of playing the T-Rex game that pops up when a Google Chrome webpage struggles to connect to the internet.
The bland and boring gameplay makes the short length the game’s only saving grace. While the idea certainly has some potential, Speed Limit’s heavy reliance on stirring the porridge every now and again does not compensate for its overall lack of imagination. Sure, the pixel art is quite nice, with some great visual transitional effects throughout. But without substance within the gameplay, all it can ever hope to muster together is a half-decent trailer at best.
I played through Speed Limit to completion on the far more challenging Normal mode (there is no hard mode option.) The Easy mode does help the pacing slightly but also exposes further how undeniably lazy and tedious the experience really is. The game also has one of the most infuriatingly dull and long-winded final boss encounters I have ever experienced in more than 30 years of gaming.
It goes without saying, then, that Speed Limit trips at the starting line and nosedives straight into the pile of shovelware scattered across the Nintendo eShop. While it attempts to come across as a love letter to classic gaming, all Speed Limit really does is celebrate the poorly impersonated rubbish that nearly collapsed the gaming industry back in the early ’80s.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Chorus Worldwide Games