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The Trials of Bringing Motorcycles to Mobile: The Dumb Luck of Retro Highway

Out Run innovated video games in 1986, bringing its advanced hardware and soundtrack to the arcade screen. Road Rash took the motorcycle racing genre further with its graphics and speed on consoles in 1991. With Retro Highway, Dumb Luck Games is looking to bring influences from both games to the mobile screen.

OnlySP recently spoke to Constantine Berg from Dumb Luck Games to discuss the game’s development, soundtrack, and influences.


OnlySP: Congratulations on hitting this point in development! How are you feeling at the moment, with the game’s release date being so close?

Constantine Berg: We are equally excited and anxious: the mobile gaming scene is even more crowded and competitive now compared to when we started development, and there’s a huge chance the game will go largely unnoticed by the public, but we are happy to have made it to the release and are keen to see what the players will think of the finished product.

OnlySP: When did you start working on the game?

Berg: The earliest TIGSource thread dates back to October of 2015, but the development started slightly earlier when Nicolai (the game’s programmer) and I just met each other on the forums. Working on a small mobile game for almost three years may sound kind of crazy, but it makes more sense when you take all the breaks we had to take into account—the actual “active” development time is more like a little over a year, which is not too bad for two part-timers.

Retro Highway screenshot

OnlySP: Were there any particular influences that led you to develop Retro Highway?

Berg: We didn’t mention Sega classics like OutRun and Road Rash as our influences just for dramatic effect before—despite being born close to the new millennium, I actually did grow up with all these games on my Mega Drive, the only console my family could afford at the time. As for the events that directly led to the game’s development… they are quite silly, to be frank. Retro Highway‘s soundtrack was actually made by Mikhail Rublyov a whole year before its development started and for a different game—a “manlier” Mario Kart ripoff made in a month or so for a game jam on a then-popular Russian gamedev site. This jam game turned out to be a C+ effort at best and the programmer had no intent of improving it, so I felt really bad about wasting Mikhail’s great tracks. After semi-compensating for his work with some art (he was actually promised a chunk of the prize money that we ended up not getting, placing at #4 instead of expected #2-3), I decided to do the most sensible thing with a great Road Rash inspired soundtrack: use it for a Road Rash-inspired game.

OnlySP: What is your favourite element of the game?

Berg: For me, the thing that makes the game still fun to play after all this time is the sense of speed. I remember the early builds feeling kind of bland and lifeless until we studied the “camerawork” in some early bike racing games and decided to try and replicate it to the best of our abilities. Surprisingly, Nicolai pretty much nailed the shake and zoom effects for landing, crashing, and using boost on his first try, and we only had to make some minor changes since then.

Retro Highway gameplay

OnlySP: What have you found to be the biggest issue or problem throughout development?

Berg: Life got in the way a lot. Nicolai is a student, so he naturally had to take breaks to concentrate on his studies while I often had to take whole months off to argue I’m unfit for conscription by the Russian military or to get a side job and crawl out of debt. Nicolai himself admits there was more than once where he didn’t think we would ever finish.

OnlySP: Any plans for future projects?

Berg: If the game does well enough, we are definitely considering expanding upon its ideas in some way; right now though, as a means to relax and rest from RH‘s troubled development cycle, Nicolai has started—get this—prototyping a whole new project we had in our heads for a while now. It is also retro-themed, but not tied to a particular series from the 16-bit days as its inspiration. So, yeah, you can definitely expect to hear more news from us soon!

Retro Highway is available now on iOS via the App Store, and on Android devices through Google Play.

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