Bog Racer by Open Name Ltd is a game that I desperately want to be good at. Its retro style and 8-bit graphics are reminiscent of a youth spent pushing sleeves of Putt-Putt tokens into Gorbachev-era arcade machines all in the hopes of obtaining the elusive inflatable light-saber. But Bog Racer, much like those arcade games, is deceptively simple.
In this game you control a car (think of the sputtering eponymous buggy in the short lived Saturday morning cartoon Speed Buggy) by pressing on the screen with your finger, which causes it to change direction. There is no control to speed the car up, to slow it down, or to break. Your goal is to cross as many bridges as possible. The more bridges you cross, the more models of car you can choose from, but failure to cross the bridge means sinking into the water. Once you are in the water it’s game over and you start from the beginning.
The bridges themselves range in length and their orientation to adjacent bridges. The tenth bridge (the bane of my existence) is the longest I encountered and for some reason I can’t find the rhythm to correctly slip over to the eleventh bridge. The cadence and fluid motion of the controls definitely pulled me into this game from the get-go, even if they add to the challenge.
When I turned on the music for this game another 8-bit wave of nostalgia crashed over me. The main menu music was what you would expect from a Nintendo Game Boy-era game like Pokémon or Tetris— climatic, synth-‘80s, slightly cheesy, but absolutely necessary to the overall atmosphere of the game. Once you press “START” however, the music clicks off and the only noises are the sound of the racecar’s engine, its wheels going over the bridges and grass, and 8-bit MARSH NOISES! Water gurgling, swamp birds squawking, insects buzzing how triumphant is that?!?
The major fault I found in this game was that advertisements would appear on screen each time I crashed into the water. Since pressing the screen became ingrained in me I would inevitably click more of the advertisements than I would have liked.
While Bog Racer is not a game of depth, I found it visually pleasing, challenging, and highly addictive. Even though I keep drowning among the cattails, this is definitely a game I’m going to be playing the next time I’m getting my car serviced or the next time I’m stuck at the dentist’s office.
Check it out and feel free to leave a comment or two in the box below.