Spectra is an upcoming ID@Xbox racer from Gateway Interactive that has punished Windows Store users for some time with its demanding retro racing.

Spectra will join Halo: Spartan Assault as one of the only two games available on Xbox One, Windows Phone and Windows 8 simultaneously with synchronous progression. So let's take a look!

Retrotacular and laced with score-chasing challenge

In Spectra, you pilot a rocket powered Nintendo Gameboy (seriously) across procedurally generated race tracks, laden with obstacles. Spectra's race tracks are generated using infectious 8-bit chiptunes composed by Chipzel as a basis. Chipzel became famous for her work on Super Hexagon, another retro hit mobile game. Spectra sports ten tracks in total, each taking place randomly across the length of Chipzel's sound track, each of which are typically 5-7 minutes on average.

For those who didn't pick up the Windows Store versions, the gameplay takes cues from the likes of the classic Sonic special zones, F-Zero and endless runners like Temple Run. On touch devices, you tap left and right to avoid obstacles and by using left and right on the joystick on Xbox One. You can also hook up an Xbox controller to your Surface or similar Windows tablet to enjoy the game.

As you progress through a level, you'll pick up coins and be awarded bonus modifiers for narrowly avoiding obstacles and hitting speed boosts for jumps. You can deposit your built up points by avoiding coins for a couple of seconds, but by doing so you will sacrifice your modifiers. Smashing into obstacles will see you lose any points you haven't deposited, creating a an increasingly tense risk v. reward scenario.

Crashing into obstacles won't kill you, but it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. The race track in Spectra is a slippery one, particularly when it comes to sharp corners. As levels ramp up in speed and complexity, keeping your racer on the track becomes a tricky business, and falling off it will end the game.

I caught up with Gateway Interactive to discuss future plans, Spectra's origins and their support of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Jez: What made you guys decide to make a game like this? What were your inspirations?

Gateway: There were multiple inspirations that all just sort of fell into place really! Originally Spectra was a Game Jam game. After working heavily on a different project we really needed a break so we booked out a stand at Insomnia and decided that within those two weeks leading up to the event we would create something to show, thus, Spectra was born!

We love games that have a focus on the audio and wanted to do something based off that. We were hugely inspired by F-Zero and Audiosurf (games that we have commonly been compared too) as well as Wipeout and Rainbow Road from Mario Kart.

The core of Spectra is the music. We were super lucky to meet the chiptune artist Chipzel at GDC 2013 and it was just a simple case of asking if we could use her music from her album of the same name.

Jez: Spectra holds a special place among some Windows Central readers (myself included) for its synchronicity between phone and tablet devices - what made you guys opt to add these features? Why target Windows touch devices instead of the other more 'popular' platforms?

Well the simple reason is, why should you need to play the game twice? The fact that you can finish one level on a certain platform and then pick it up again on another is the way forward so as not to regress a player's experience. The game was originally for touch screen devices and what with our great relationship with Microsoft, the Windows Store seemed like the natural progression! We plan on touching other platforms too, as we are currently in the run up to the game's release on Xbox One - which we are super excited for!

Thanks to Gateway Interactive for saying hi!

Spectra: a solid side of maddeningly addictive fun

After 24 hours of UK election mayhem Spectra was a satisfying distraction, particularly if you pretend that you're speeding away from the country into the vast emptiness of space. Spectra is a very simplistic, but delivers big on its core racing premise. Progression synchronicity between devices is a welcome bonus for any Windows touch gamer, but sadly, the Windows app store versions lose out on full Xbox integration. What gives ID@Xbox?!

Regardless, the future looks bright for Gateway Interactive, who are already in the planning stages for a new racer. Be sure to check back in June for the release of the Xbox One version and Windows Phone version. If you can't wait until then, the Windows 8.1 tablet version is still available to download here.


The winners were IsaacJ and Idan Cohen, please send me a PM to receive a key!