Wednesday 30 August 2017

OverTop (Neo Geo CD review)

Developer: ADK
Publisher: SNK
Released: 1996 

OverTop is a racing game that was also released on the Neo Geo AES and MVS.

Your job is to race through seven stages and reach the finish line before time expires. There's eight vehicles (including bikes and sports cars) and the locations include urban areas, mountainous regions and snowy roads. Once a race begins there's an impressive sense of speed and each car handles beautifully. However, after 20 seconds you'll reach the first checkpoint and have to wait a similar amount of time for the next section to load. This occurs throughout all areas and the fact that you spend as much time watching a loading screen as you do racing is ridiculous. Also, the action is a little too zoomed-in for my liking, forcing you to rely on the tiny overhead map to see what's up ahead. Once you're familiar with each stage you can beat the game in less than ten minutes; there's literally nothing else to do at this point apart from trying to beat your best time. On a positive note, I like the course design, as each area feels unique in terms of car handling; for example, the fastest cars are great in the City, but crawl along in the Mountains. Likewise, if you're driving a slower car you'll find yourself in last place at the beginning of a race, but with a good chance of catching up in the Desert. This gives some replayability as you try to reach the finish line with different vehicle types. The shortcuts are neat too, and their absence from the map makes it a fun challenge to locate them. The graphics are highly detailed and the intense music reminds me of Out Run (1986, Arcades) on steroids!

OverTop gets so much right, but screws things up with its lack of content and loading times which break-up the action unnecessarily. My advice is to stick to Neo Drift Out (1996, Neo Geo CD) instead, as it's a bit more varied, features more intense racing and, most importantly, loads far quicker!

Random trivia: The Neo Geo AES version was only released in Japan.

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