The Pinchcliffe GP, from Ravn Studio, oozes so much charm that it feels like you’re gorging on guilty pleasures from your childhood like it’s nobodies business. That sounds borderline creepy, maybe full-on, but this is one quirky title irrespective of the choice of words.
Based on the notorious Norwegian movie Flåklypa Grand Prix, the highest-grossing stop-motion flick until Jack Skellington came along, the game pretty much follows the film. Gore-Slimey has stolen Theodore Rimspoke’s designs to become a successful F1 driver. To counter this, Theo and his team build the Il Tempo Gigante to challenge Slimey to the ultimate race. As a driving game, it’s… ok. But as an overall experience, lovely.
I love a good contradiction, me. Let me attempt to explain. I’ve seen The Pinchcliffe GP several times of VHS. Back in the days where computers came with tape decks, there was no such thing as the internet, and knowledge came from hands-on experience or the library. As a kid, I’d assumed this was an English story like Heidi, Laputa and The Cities of Gold before it. The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix is… heartwarming, and it also has some of the catchiest tunes that drill into your head.
The game is mostly discovery-based in 3D scenes from the film, rotating the camera around to locate and interact with all sorts of inventions, characters and fact-finding treats. It resembles a hidden object game, but instead of finding an item and moving on, you’re rewarded with a mini-game, or more importantly, the components to build the Il Tempo Gigante.
While there’s a goal to the game, there doesn’t feel the urgency to storm through. Instead, you’ll explore the scenery as if it were one of those Spot the Dog books, lifting the flaps for some surprises. The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix will most likely appeal to a younger audience, posing minimal resistance for those seeking a thrill ride. Despite having jet engines equipped to the car.
There’s a fair amount of negative response to the game, and it’s all valid as we’re all entitled to our critiques. From my perspective, someone who never played the game from 20 years ago, this was a joy to play with my four-year-old. Perhaps I’d be terser if it was a remake of my beloved Jet Set Radio. I see this as a family-focused game, primarily for younger gamers, and nostalgia for fans of the original or even the movie. I couldn’t possibly compare it to the earlier game without playing it.
While there are difficulty settings, there’s not much to test more adept players. Jigsaw puzzles are an exact digital representation, and they serve the purpose here, but the core gaming element of driving and even flying is a little uninspiring. The highlight comes from the characters and their quirks, the nods to the camera, what’s happening in the background, and Easter Eggs or facts you can uncover. It’s edutainment. Fetch my bucket.
Perhaps that’s not what you want from a GP, and to be fair, Forza probably is the alternative. However, if you’re at that stage in your life where It’s a Small World is your household anthem, or bribing a theme park mascot so that you can get a selfie for your kids makes you tick, then I think it’s fair to say that you’ll enjoy The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix.
I initially played with my little girl, and we loved it – proper belly laughs and all. Playing on my own was fine. I have a lot of patience and try to give all titles a fair run on their own merit. However, I found that giving her a shout to come ‘help’ daddy was much more rewarding, and with her created character, we (she) played through the stages I unlocked, and it was a blast. We’re also going to see if there’s a way we can watch the original together, other than the in-game cutscenes.
This might not be what you’ve expected to read in a review. The principal theme of driving isn’t that well realised here. It’s not bad; it’s just that it’s not the focal point. Surprisingly. You come to The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix for the nostalgia, one’s inquisitive nature of finding things out, and for how it makes you feel. It’s a lovely experience; just don’t expect Forza. As if you did.