Street Duel: Underground Racing comes from developers who cut their teeth in Playstation titles. On any other platform, Street Duel would come across as your run of the mill action driving title. It takes place with a behind the vehicle view. But on the Pocket PC, it is a novel fully 3D driving title with modeled vehicles and physics.
Street Duel’s gameplay is composed of thirty two races and challenges that you must complete in order. Some of the missions involve racing against other opponents. Some are twists on the race in that you need to shadow someone. And some challenges are included for fun’s sake, like knocking over pylons or passing through checkpoints against time. These missions are loosely tied together with the character of Jack; the driver you assume the role of.
There are nine vehicles featured in Street Duel but they aren’t open to you all at once. Instead, like most driving titles, they are locked in the beginning. And even if you unlock all of them, you may not be able to use all vehicles on all maps. Simply put, some missions would be too easy if you had access to a speedy car. Unfortunately, there is no free drive mode in the game to test all the vehicles.
The behavior of the vehicles in Street Duel mirror that found in other arcade racers. You can perform a variety of powerslides and handbrake induced turns. Cornering requires slowing down the vehicle. It does take some time to get used to it though. If you’re like me, and you depend on audio cues, you’ll find the monotone tire screeching sound effect is not varied enough to let you guess how much you should decelerate in order to pull off a turn. Otherwise, Street Duel’s physics will let you do things like accelerate off ramps and into the air. One time, I even landed on top of a building.
The graphics themselves are one of a kind on the Pocket PC. Caveat emptor, though, as it requires some hefty hardware. To run the game without visual compromise, you’ll have to grab one of the new speedy XScale handhelds. The game still runs on older handhelds but the framerate will suffer. And it has an adverse effect on gameplay too since you’ll either react too fast or too slow due to the speed of the display.
Priced at $19.99 US, Pixelogic has a money back guarantee – the first I’ve seen for a handheld game of this nature. If you can’t get performance levels to a degree that you can enjoy the game, it seems like there is an easy way to get a refund on the product. With lengthy soundtrack, Pixelogic is able to make Street Duel a slick and polished product.
My only big concern coming away from Street Duel is its limited gameplay. The linear storyline and races is the stock and trade of most arcade racing titles. However, if you get stuck on a certain challenge, you won’t be able to move forward. It might have been better for the game to be divided into obstacles, races and time challenges. That way, you can at least try something else if you’re frustrated for the moment.
All in all, those who enjoy arcade racing titles will find a lot to like in Street Duel. Pixelogic’s experience with console racers definitely rings true in this title.