NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 1 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

If you had visited an arcade in the late '70s and ’80s, there’s a good chance you’d come across a bustling Sprint cabinet complete with crowd-pulling steering wheels and pedals. Atari’s once ubiquitous overhead racing classic is now making a comeback on modern consoles with NeoSprint, and we’re happy to report that it largely holds up as a well-executed throwback.

It’s the latest in Atari’s effort to partner with indie developers to bring its classic IPs into the 21st century. Headless Chicken, the Costa Rican studio behind this loving retro revival, manages to retain the rubber-burning essence of the original games while incorporating contemporary gameplay modes, vehicle customization, and a surprisingly robust track builder.

All told, we had fairly modest expectations going in, tempered by NeoSprint’s simplistic visual style, reminiscent of a mobile game with generic-looking assets. However, after diving into its gameplay, we were pleasantly surprised by its intuitive controls and just how well it captured the playful and chaotic spirit of its arcade racing forebearers.

NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 2 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Now, we acknowledge that NeoSprint is unlikely to find broad appeal in the era of Forza and the evergreen Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But if you have a soft spot for old-school top-down racers like R.C. Pro-Am, Micro Machines, and all things Atari, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate NeoSprint’s balance of engaging retro gameplay and modern accessibility.

While it supports couch co-op for up to eight players on Switch (making it a good party game), the lack of real-time online play and leaderboards to track high scores and times – features that many might expect from a title priced at $24.99 – are a notable drawback. Racing against the ghosts of players’ best times doesn’t quite match the excitement of real-time competition.

But if you can overlook that, NeoSprint excels where it matters most: the races themselves. The controls are intuitive, allowing casual players to quickly get the hang of navigating through its single-screen 3D isometric tracks. The single-player Campaign Mode stands out with its well-balanced difficulty curve that gradually progresses to be fairly challenging.

NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 3 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Campaign Mode pits you against AI competitors that perform quite dynamically: they can crash, and never drive as if they are on rails. Each circuit ends with a 1-on-1 race against that course’s top rival, all of whom are rendered in a cartoonish art style. There’s no story and only a few bits of flavour text as dialogue, which keeps racing in focus.

Winning a head-to-head victory unlocks the next Cup and rewards, including assets for the track builder, Atari-themed car decals, and colour schemes. The 48 unlockable campaign tracks start simply but soon become fairly intricate with ramps, jumps, and banks that will test your mettle steering around sharp turns and navigating through pileups.

The controls are simple, with ‘A’ for the accelerator, ‘Y’ for hand breaking on turns, and ‘B’ for brake/reverse. ‘X’ also realigns your car on the track if you manage to get stuck or overshoot the course when barrelling off a ramp. We occasionally nudged the ‘X’ button in error and bungled a good run by letting the competition get ahead of us. That function would work better on the shoulder buttons in our view, but sadly the control scheme cannot be remapped. Pressing the ‘L’ trigger highlights your car, which can be helpful in raucous multiplayer matches. If you don’t have seven (or fewer) other friends, you can select AI drivers to fill out the roster in the freewheeling Grand Prix mode.

NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 4 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The races are fast-paced and bite-sized, with each of the four races in a circuit (there are four circuits across each of the three Cups) beatable in a minute or two. How long it takes to beat the entire campaign depends entirely on your skill level, and given the challenge of later courses, it's almost certain that most casual players will require a few attempts to beat them.

NeoSprint gives you two camera options: a single-screen overhead view and a tighter view focusing on your ride, akin to R.C. Pro-Am. We found the default overhead view proved better for manoeuvring strategically, such as accelerating across a long stretch of straight track. But in handheld mode, the tighter camera scheme is preferable for being easier to discern.

Winning manages to be quite exhilarating, especially in close races when the action briefly goes into slow-motion just as vehicles zoom past the finish line. Vehicles aren’t destructible, but they can certainly crash and occasionally form a glut that momentarily blocks the way. Manoeuvring ahead just as opponents hit a snag is essential to building up an unassailable lead.

NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 5 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

There are nine different car types loosely modelled after real-world vehicles, all with different attributes for acceleration, maximum speed, and turning. When faced with the escalating difficulty of the campaign, we would often try out different vehicles’ handling to see which would be best suited to the challenges of each circuit.

There are heaps of unlockable track assets, easter eggs, and cool nods to the Atari legacy packed into NeoSprint, which can also be unlocked by winning at least bronze in a circuit in the Obstacle Course and Time Trial modes. Apart from just racing, the Track Builder mode is an intuitive addition that adds further replayability heft. Designing tracks may not be a pull for every player, but NeoSprint’s deep, customizable track-building engine is as user-friendly as it gets, with easy-to-use drag-and-drop track segments along with scenery and decorations. Sharing tracks with the online community is straightforward, and we managed to try some clever player-created content during our review.

NeoSprint Review - Screenshot 6 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Finally, performance held up throughout at 30fps even with eight racers on screen, though the already not-great visuals seemed a touch muddier in handheld mode, particularly with tracks that take place at night. There’s also a fitting soundtrack of catchy '80s instrumental synth tracks that nicely match the gameplay and retro context.


At its core, NeoSprint is fun to pick up and play and managed to leave us itching for 'one more race', making it a good recommendation for retro arcade racing fans and Atari enthusiasts. That said, we feel the asking price is a tad steep given the omission of online play options, particularly when stacked against free-to-play retro racing competition like F-Zero 99. But if you’re sold on its well-crafted campaign and solid track-building elements, there’s plenty to enjoy here.