More than a year after its predecessor released through the much underappreciated WiiWare service, Keen Games reignite their engines and put the pedal to the metal as the expanded TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition speeds onto Wii U.
Filling the void left by the demise of games in the ilk of Micro Machines, the German studio’s apparently cutesy racer disguises a carefully tuned experience that will see your driving expertise challenged from the get-go.
Whilst geared by the developer as a “fun multiplayer game,” more enjoyment can be gained from the slew of single-player content that is slung on you. Which is lucky, forgoing any form of online multiplayer which, at least from my own experience, is becoming more of a rarity these days outside of families.
Beyond three tutorial races that serve to introduce you to the game’s basics, you can rev your way through challenges and tournaments as you seek to outdrive the competition. Mischievous pick-ups see you thwart your opponents efforts to take the lead: comedically oversized hammers slamming the track to shake vehicles off-course, weights attached to plungers that grip onto an enemy’s rear bumper to slow them down, smoke machines that cloud everyone’s view, and explosive confetti mines that can be placed as traps along the track.
Repairing damage taken remains just as important as dealing any, although being knocked out of the race doesn’t mean your involvement in it ends there. Returning as a ghostly Shadow Racer, whilst you can no longer win the round it still allows you to exact revenge on your opponents in an effort to prevent their victory.
Progression expectedly broadens the challenges available to you, whilst also expanding the vehicles in your garage awaiting your selection. From racing cars, trucks, to animal-themed vehicles, there’s no differentiation aside from appearance, the similarity in handling most likely remaining constant to ensure it is accessible to the youngsters it more easily attracts.
Aesthetically the game falls down, car models and weaponry receiving some attention whilst the environments that you trawl through feeling more than uninspired and failing to match them. Parrots fly overhead repeatedly as you pass their scripted portions of the track, making them feel lifeless against the relentless tussle for first place.
TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition grants a charmed experience, but one that never elevates itself to that which its nitrous name suggests. Certainly, fun in bursts, those looking for a racer to challenge their mettle will enjoy sinking time into Keen Games latest.