Juggling the tabletop delight of Micro Machines with the frenzied item deployment of an arcade combat racer, you have to admire the bravery that Eclipse Games have shown with Super Toy Cars. Arriving in the wake of Mario Kart 8, the Spanish developer has the unenviable task of differentiating their creation but regrettably find themselves tailing at the back of the pack.
16 miniature cars are awaiting your attention in the toy garage, with players recommended to experiment with those available to discover one that matches their driving style. With Career Mode necessitating that you earn credits to unlock access to the full collection, your early experiences of Super Toy Cars will see you stuck behind the wheel of a cumbersome drive. And early experiences count.
Career Mode is largely where you’ll spend your time, working through groups of events that form Cups and hoarding as many credits as you can seize through your victories. It isn’t just new cars that you can splash your winnings on, with new paint jobs and vehicle upgrades waiting to be claimed. These allow you to refine the toy cars that line the game, although don’t deliver notable improvement. Improving parameters such as top speed and acceleration can help you surge your way to the head of the competition, but your tweaks often act as a counterweight and imbalance vehicles in other areas.
Events draw from the tropes that populate the genre, whether that be competitive Races, Elimination or Time Attack, but the unpredictable nature that dominates Super Toy Cars means that you’re regularly treading a tightrope between manic hilarity and a chance to drive your sanity up the wall. Collide with any of the track surroundings and the game will immediately sense that you’re in trouble, resetting your position to the middle of the track. That’s useful for younger players, but for more competitive adults it becomes a frustration – thankfully you can head to the Options menu to turn the auto-respawn off!
While Micro Machines saw us speeding over cereal boxes and across pool tables, Super Toy Cars places us in grittier surroundings that fail to capture my whimsically childish imagination. Instead, you’ll be skidding your way around kids room, street, kitchen and garage environments, each cluttered with generic items that you will struggle to generate any enthusiasm over. There are just 12 of such tracks, although you would be hard-pressed to really distinguish them from one another.
Weapons placed at your disposal are similarly uninspired, billiard balls clumsily rolling forward to smack opponents, homing missiles quickly targeting nearby competition, and paint being splattered behind your car in a twist on the ol’ oil slick.
The Track Editor’s inclusion is commendable, although demonstrates how easy it is to construct such forgettable courses for you to speed around. Simply shape the curvature of the track, and then scatter items and objects across it. Although while it allows your creativity to blossom, these can’t be shared online which would’ve superbly extended the experience in the increasingly popular Play, Create, Share arena.
However, any that you create can be played in Quick Race, which is also the only mode that supports the game’s four-player split-screen multiplayer with participants equipping themselves with the Wii U GamePad and then any combination of Wii U Pro Controllers or Wii Remote Plus. All existing tracks and toy cars are accessible straight away, although it will only be the calamity of family and friends playing locally that will make you return to the mode.
The cartoon aesthetic is a success, even if Super Toy Cars is let down by visual repetition in this Unity-built Nintendo eShop release, and a supporting soundtrack by The Spin Wires is a gloriously rock-heavy if somewhat mismatched accompaniment. Everything’s rounded off by in-game achievements that look to objectify the time that you invest, while detailed user stats let you track precisely how long that’s been.
Super Toy Cars regularly shows glimmers of achieving something far greater but runs out of battery charge long before it can even begin to rival similar experiences competing to be part of a Wii U owner’s game collection.