There are two battles to wage once you enter Rush Rally's start screen.

One is between you and the track - a battle measured in ever-faster lap times and thumb-bashing desperation, fought with tweaked toe-in angles as you try to unlock every one of the game’s 36 routes.

The second is against that stupid, stupid ghost car.

OK, it's not stupid. I'm being petulant. It's an excellent feature - but it's troublingly easy to lose hours racing against it, blinking yourself out of the hot lap stupor to find an entire day / night cycle's passed and your stomach's now digesting itself.

Back to school

Rush Rally is an old school racer of the retro "top down" ilk. A blast of the sort of addictive arcade action made popular in yesteryear.

BrownMonster makes the most of this. Rush Rally's developer has made each well-crafted track unique, with different surface types, weather, and visibility conditions.

Sometimes you're racing at night, sometimes you're racing in the snow. All of these affect the handling of the car, turning a simple S-bend into a string of epithets and expletives.

The campaign centres around travelling the globe. You complete time trial stages and move on to the next country when you're done. Four game modes mix things up: Road Works, Skill Gates, Turbos, and Coin Collect.

Road Works is hands down the most fun, coaxing all those "vroom vroom" urges you've been bottling up in a blazing marathon of cones and petrol.

The idea is to get round the track avoiding as many obstacles as possible (mostly traffic cones). As well as testing your skill, the game tests your ability to handle the pressure of a ticking clock.

Fasten your seatbelt

The spray of dust from your car's tyres as you skid around the tight corners is generated by an in-house, cross-platform engine developed from scratch. This is perhaps the game's greatest triumph, and it creates satisfying effects in a variety of environments.

There are a few little niggles that spoil the package though. With no AI controlled rivals, the game encourages you to improve on your lap times by playing against a ghost version of yourself on old tracks.

This is incredibly addictive, until you pass the 60% game completion mark and a niggling sense of déjà vu sets in.
To mitigate this, you can also connect with Facebook friends to download their "ghosts" onto your track.

Trouble is, if like me you spend your Friday nights spooning Ben and Jerry's straight from the tub with Céline Dion blasting out on repeat, you're unlikely to have many friends to invite. And that can be lonely.

The lack of vehicle skin variety is also a bit of a downer. As your skill improves you want a shiny new car (preferably red) to match. Alas your mechanical steed stays steely grey.

Achievements attempt to keep things fresh, but with enigmatic titles like "nitro maniac" and "nebula", it can be difficult to work out how you get close to fulfilling them.

Rush Rally's retro feel is both its USP and Achilles heel. It's charming and decadent, but if you worship power, performance, and peril (the Holy Trinity for those who guzzle their communion wine from a petrol tank) you may find it a little safe.

That doesn't dull the enjoyment though, and for nostalgic reasons it's well worth taking Rush Rally for a spin.