Minit took the sense of exploration and discovery from a classic Zelda and recreated it in 60-second black and white chunks. The result was fantastic, so it’s not surprising its creators are returning to that world in their latest game: Minit Fun Racer.
The new side-scrolling racing game, which publisher Devolver Digital describes as a “bite-sized experience,” takes the countdown timer and bespoke character interactions of the original and projects them into a highway of coins to collect and obstacles to avoid as you try to get to the beach just as the sun is setting. It’s a little game about the little touches that make life memorable and fun—the perfect antidote to our current self-quarantined existence.
“We’re all stuck at home and, you know, you can’t travel, so you start to enjoy the little things even more in a way, like the changing of the seasons instead of going to places,” developer and former Vlambeer co-founder Jan Willem Nijman said in an interview earlier this week.
“Or like a coffee in the morning, like the first thing you can do if you go to the shop, you can get a free coffee,” Kitty Calis, another one of Minit’s developers who also made Disc Room, added.
To get to the beach within the game’s strict time limits, you purchase upgrades from a shopkeeper. One lets you bounce off of trash cans to pick up speed, turning your typical hazard to be avoided into a life-saving powerup. The shop offers other trinkets, like a complimentary cup of joe, as well as items that let you interact with the world outside of racing, like a horn that wakes up alley cats. These things are purchased with coins you collect during each run, so like any good roguelite, you’re slowly making progress, even when you die.
These interlocking mechanics would make for a solid arcade game as far as they go, but what makes Minit Fun Racer so endearing, just like its processor, are the details and unexpected moments that give it a Wes Andersonian sense of quirky personality and interior life.
“[T]he four of us really inspire each other continuously, like getting a shop background for the shopkeeper and putting a picture of a bike on the wall,” Nijman said. “And then we realize that if you spend more money in the shop, we wanted to shopkeeper to kind of get a nicer shop and upgrade because they’re taking all your money.”
This concept grew to the point where the game’s artist, Dominik Johann (Minit, The Stanley Parable), then made a new shop with a picture of a car behind the counter, signaling the evolution of the shopkeeper’s aspirations.
The bow on top of this tightly wrapped package is composer Jukio Kallio’s bubbly chip-tune-like music which pulsates across the roadway. Kallio also worked on Fall Guys’ music and brings the same energetic and zig-zagging sensibility to bear on the monochromatic 1-bit racer. It’s catchy, just like the core loop of the game (I’ve spent about half an hour with it so far), and the end result is an invitingly whimsical world that’s fun to chill in.
Minit Fun Racer is out today on Steam and Itch.io for $3, with all proceeds from the game going to charity, including Doctors Without Borders.