Game: Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
Genre: Action, Arcade, Racing
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows))
Developer|Publisher: Invictus Games | Ravn Studio
Age Rating: EU 3+
Price: US TBC | UK TBC | EU TBC (currently, only released in Norway)
Release Date: November 4th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Mountain Giant
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (or Flåklypa Grand Prix) is a beloved stop motion film released in 1975 in its country of origin Norway. In all honesty, I had never heard of this film but it was quite intriguing looking it up. The art style of this film is very reminiscent of British shows I used to watch when I was younger like the Clangers and The Wombles. The film has a simple but wholesome plot that follows an inventor Reodor Feldon who lives in a shack with his animal buddies Ludwig (a hedgehog) and Solan (a Magpie).
One day the gang discovers Reodors former assistant Rudolf has stolen Reodors design for a super-powered car engine and become a famous racing driver. So the gang begin a quest to secure funding to build a bigger and better racing car in order to challenge Rudolf and teach him a lesson. It’s no surprise that such an admired film would eventually see the video game treatment. It would not be until the year 2000 that this occurs though with the game released to PC and even the Nintendo DS. But how does the game fair today? A nice homage to a classic film or something best left in the past?
When I first booted up this game I was expecting to go straight into some racing action. But opting to start with story mode I was rather surprised that I wouldn’t be jumping into any form of car until essentially the end of the campaign. The story mode plays as a very simple point and click adventure. With the main goal being to collect enough car parts to assemble a vehicle known as the Tempo Gigante. You can find these parts by clicking on them in the environment or clicking on various sticky notes dotted around the place which will also provide random facts of education. Some are facts about Norway, others are about engineering or something else of interest.
The main highlight of the story mode is discovering the little mini-games. There are simple experiences like putting together puzzles, a Pacman style game where you collect flowers and even Mahjong. You then have some more interesting games like sorting posts, repairing bikes and a gambling game where you track a ball in three cups. Many of these games feel like they would have really benefited from touch controls in handheld. Unfortunately, you are just stuck using the analogue controls.
There is a decent variety in these mini-games but they do lack depth. It does feel quite reminiscent of the Wii and Nintendo DS era where these mini-games were all the rage. Still, each game comes with multiple difficulty settings and once unlocked you can access them later from the main menu if you just want to focus on one.
The graphics nicely replicate the designs of the film. It’s not quite stop motion but you’ll be able to explore familiar environments and even get to enjoy original music from the film. The plot recaps the main points of the film, with the game even cutting to actual footage of the original. Even if you have never seen the film like I did, it does get the main points of the plot across. It was kinda clever how some of the gameplay elements were weaved into footage of the original. The best example of this is when you actually jump into the car at the end of the story mode. You will actually break down just like events in the film and have to recover from the setback. It’s a nice touch fans of the film would probably appreciate.
Once story mode is over, which will probably only take you around 2-3 hours, you can then start playing racing tournaments with a wider assortment of vehicles. Much like the mini-games the racing itself is just fine. The controls work and are pretty easy to pick up and play. But don’t expect any big surprises or special skills to learn.
You are able to pick up items to use like an oil spill, fog effect and a speed boost. But it just kinda lacks the depth you would see in more popular titles in the genre. You are able to do solo races or compete in Grand Prix which have you race up the three trackback to back attempting to obtain the top spot. You can also do a rather adorable driving school with Ludwig the Hedgehog riding in a little scooter-like device seen in the film.
The game features single-player and split-screen multiplayer. The overall feel of the game does feel more catered to the younger gaming demographic but having the split screen does give parents the opportunity to maybe jump in and share the game together which may create delightful gaming memories for the younglings.
Conclusion – A Day at the Races
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix is a decent video game tie-in to a beloved film. But all of its various gameplay elements from the racing to the mini-games lack depth. It’s quite clear that the developers clearly loved this film and it shows in the presentation of the game and nods to its source material. For fans of the source material that might be enough, but not so much for general gaming audiences. The overall feel of this game also seems more tailored to a younger gaming audience. Or for parents to consider sharing with younglings. If nothing else, playing this game led me to learn more about one of Norway’s most beloved films. An adventure I found worth taking.
Final Verdict: I Like It