With so many narrative-driven and mechanic-heavy video games released in the past year, sometimes players just want to play a title that allows them to wind down and relax. Fortunately, in this article, I'll be focusing on not just one but two titles dedicated to some well-deserved R&R after the holiday rush. Both games, Seaside Driving and GyroBlade were published by Tendokore, yet created by different developers.
Despite this, both titles aim to capture racing and shoot-em-up arcade classics without very little in the way of a "skill floor." Both titles are "pick up and play" and I have my thoughts on both. Before that, I'd want to give thanks to Tendokore themselves for allowing me to review these two gems. Let's begin with the earlier of the two titles, Seaside Driving.
Seaside Driving was released on Steam on March 16, 2022, and developed by Frozen Lake Games. A few months ago, I covered several titles during the Steam Racing Fest and I stated that there were many titles that I would overlook due to the sheer volume of games. Seaside Driving was one of the titles I've wanted to take a closer look into and almost half a year later, I'd finally get the chance to do so. So, what is Seaside Driving? In short, it's an endless runner in its basic form. Being that this was originally an Android game, its premise is meant to be a simple "pick up and enjoy" experience.
Initially, you have one starting car and a beachside map to drive. As you play and earn coins, you'll unlock cars ranging from a Toyota Supra, a Porsche 911, a Ford Mustang, and even a Volkswagon Bus. The levels that can be purchased are autumn forests, snowy mountains, and, of course, a "retrowave" inspired course. The soundtrack is largely synthwave and its aesthetic is meant to capture a certain 1980s game.
This leads to a slight disappointment when there's a lack of a Testarossa to be had. While we can't have the wind flowing from our hair, as referenced in Need For Speed Unbound, we can at least go the distance. For an endless runner-style game, the cars handle quite well. Cards generally powerslide yet the amount of controllability depends on the car's handling. A car's acceleration is how fast it goes from zero and its max speed is how quickly the car picks up in miles. The further you travel, the higher your record will be, however, collecting coins is paramount to unlocking everything.
The most expensive vehicle, the Volkswagon Van, is worth 9000, meaning there's tons of replay value to be had. As to be expected with mobile endless runners, what you see is what you get. As I mentioned earlier, the synthwave soundtrack fits the overall "chill" theme that the developers wished to provide. Overall Seaside Driving is a perfect bite-sized arcade endless runner to wind down after a rough day while in a Discord voice chat. I understand this sounds very specific, but this was something I've done playing this game so I'm speaking from experience!
The second title, GyroBlade, was developed by H.T. Project and is the most recent of the two, releasing on December 19th, 2022, via the Nintendo Switch. H.T. Project is a Japanese indie developer who has a passion for games reminiscent of his childhood in the 80s. With that said, GyroBlade is similar to Demon Throttle, another vertical indie console shooter that pays homage to the 80s developed by fans of that era of gaming. GyroBlade, like most games from that time period, doesn’t leave much in the way of a “plot.”
You are a pilot of an attack helicopter and your mission is to defeat waves of enemies followed by a boss at the end of each level. There are 8 levels total with four difficulty levels ranging from Easy to Classic. “Classic” difficulty is meant to capture the difficulty of 8-bit shooters at the time. I played some levels in Normal and Classic modes and I could immediately tell the difference. Its gameplay reminded me of other vertical arcade shooters from that time period, including the 19XX series and Ikari Warriors.
While GyroBlade is retro-inspired, the game runs on the Unity engine. This allows the game to achieve things that wouldn’t be possible during that time, including 60 fps and detailed particle effects. Enemies explode in a rather spectacular fashion and the framerate is smooth in contrast to its simple color palette and midi soundboard. While it’s a short enough game to play through one sitting in less than a half hour, there’s enough replayability to achieve a high score or completed the coveted “1cc” run.
Adding to the Nintendo Switch’s impressive shoot-em-up library, GyroBlade is a notable title for fans of the genre. While I did have some minor gripes, including the missile jumpscares due to how loud they fire, GyroBlade was a solid experience perfect for “on-the-go” action. Despite being developed by two different developers, both Seaside Driving and GyroBlade are examples of gaming as relaxation. Even with the frenzy of keeping your car from crashing and avoiding waves of bullets, both titles serve their purpose that’s often lost on gaming these days — Pure simple fun and enjoyment.
Seaside Driving is available on Steam and Android devices. GyroBlade is available on Steam and the Nintendo Switch.