Super Woden GP 2 is looking promising

A while back, we took a look at the excellent Super Woden GP, a challenging isometric-perspective racer that channelled the spirit of early ’90s arcade racers such as World Rally, Power Drive and Neo Drift Out. Our conclusion was that it was a very solid game with a lot to enjoy — but that its punishing difficulty level might prove offputting to some players. Will the sequel Super Woden GP 2 be any better in that regard?

Well, we’ll have to wait and see with regard to the final version of the game — but based on the demo released during the recent Steam Next Fest, things are looking promising.

Super Woden GP 2 demo

Super Woden GP 2’s demo focuses specifically on a single aspect of the game: the arcade mode, and particularly the rallying section of the game. In contrast with the previous game, which mostly focused on track racing, Super Woden GP 2 also incorporates rally events in which you’re against the clock rather than a field of opponents — and, as it turns out, this is an ideal way to start getting to grips with the game’s distinctive handling.

Like the first game, Super Woden GP 2 has handling that is unmistakably arcadey rather than realistic, but it has some considerable “weight” to it, meaning the cars are prone to sliding out if you hammer them around corners. This takes a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to more responsive arcade racers — such as any of the aforementioned ’90s examples — but once you get to grips with the fact that you need to steer a little earlier than you might think in order to get a good slide going, things feel very natural and enjoyable.

The previous Super Woden GP felt initially quite demoralising in that until you absolutely nailed how to keep control of your car, you’d find yourself at the back of the pack, more often than not. Super Woden GP 2’s rallying demo gets around this by making you the only car on the track, meaning you can focus entirely on simply making it from one end of the course to the other — being rally courses, these are point-to-point races rather than circuits.

Super Woden GP 2

Yes, you’ll probably find that the ranking you get at the end of each race is still quite low — but that feels like less of an issue than simply not being able to catch up with AI-controlled opponents in a race. Simply surviving a stage in Super Woden GP 2 feels like an achievement — particularly as the countdown timer becomes increasingly challenging as you progress through the stages.

That’s right, Super Woden GP 2’s arcade mode keeps things resolutely old-school with a countdown timer limiting how long you can take on each stage. Initially, this is relatively generous, but with each passing stage, there is less and less margin for error, encouraging you to gradually improve your skills if you want to make it through the whole thing. You’re limited on the number of times you can continue, too, so after you reach a certain point you’ll have to start over if you’re not good enough to proceed.

Some may regard this as outdated design, but there’s still a definite appeal to it in the modern day. The fact you have to fight for your victories feels meaningful, and the fact that you can’t simply mindlessly plough through the entire arcade mode without really thinking about it gives the game some longevity. If you look back to other arcade and console racers of the ’90s, they were designed the same way; in many cases, they had a severely limited number of courses compared to today’s racers, but their longevity came from the fact that they demanded practice and eventual perfection in order to succeed.

Super Woden GP 2

Super Woden GP 2 certainly isn’t limited in its number of courses, mind; even within the demo, there are a variety of different rally stages to tackle, and the full game promises even more. On top of that, there are supposedly over a hundred different cars to unlock, including some secret ones, further adding to the general ’90s vibe of the whole thing. The full version will also feature four-player split-screen racing, as well as multiple graphics modes — the latter is welcome news, since the enforced “CRT simulation” applied to the arcade mode demo won’t be to everyone’s taste.

All in all, Super Woden GP 2 is definitely looking like one to keep an eye on. At the time of writing, there isn’t a more specific release date than “2023” listed, but add it to your Wishlist on Steam and you’ll be kept up to date with the latest news as it happens. And be sure to give the demo a go in the meantime — you’ll find me somewhere down the bottom of the online rankings!

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Pete Davison
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