Super Toy Cars comes to the Wii U eShop from developer Eclipse Games after making its debut on PC and is available for the same price as on Steam at £6.99. The Wii U seems an ideal fit for a game whose character and tone is firmly planted in the fun, party game niche and it has the vibe of racers from the past of similar ilk such as Micro Machines. However, does coming to a system which boasts arguably the mother of all current party arcade racers mean that this little indie title gets swallowed up and pales in comparison to the juggernaut, or does it hold its own? Read on to find out…
It has to be stated from the off that it is apparent this little racing title is not going to win any awards in any aspect. It is a cheap title from a small developer and it has many flaws, but strangely enough, despite all these flaws and inconsistencies, it is incredibly hard to actually avoid having fun with the game; there is some pull that just keeps calling back for more.
The main bulk of the single-player experience comes in the form of the Career Mode, which has players racing through 48 events with a number of different classes, the obligatory pure racing experience against the AI, time trials, a survival mode in which each player has to avoid being last to stay in the race, plus a few more. Thankfully, a few weapons were added to pick up throughout races to make them more manic, the most fun of all being a giant Magic 8 Ball.
One of the best types of events included in the game is the 'Evade' event, which runs along similar lines to the survival race but incorporates randomly placed mines around the track. It was incredibly fun to see the amount of chaos that comes from the computer AI managing to create havoc along the track from crashing into mines and knocking parts of toys across the road, and it becomes an evident challenge just avoiding all the destruction. Whether this is down to the rudimentary computer AI is highly likely, but like with most things in the game it actually manages to endear it more in a 'so bad it's good' sort of way.
The point of going through the Career Mode is to win coins in order to buy new vehicles and also upgrade them with parts which improve performance and handling. There are 16 cars to buy and they are all charming little representations of toy cars, handling slightly differently to one another. This handling might represent toy cars well, but from a gameplay standpoint it isn't very responsive and feels like a last generation - or even earlier - physics experience. The drifting is especially awkward to pull off because of the lack of fluidity in car movement and feels unnatural.
There are 12 tracks included in the game, however, although they are all designed in a fun way with toy parts that come flying around while players race, and jumps and hoops are made out of household objects, they all begin to turn very samey after playing through a few. It is therefore nice that the developers included a fully featured track editor in the Wii U version allowing players to share and download other players' tracks. Using a stylus on the Wii U touch screen is a breeze and definitely a major positive for the experience.
The graphics presentation on the Wii U has taken a slight dip from the PC version and there are some noticeable rough edges around textures, as well as some small frame rate drops when things get manic. However, these do not detract massively from the experience. The soundtrack is entirely forgettable bland rock guitars, despite the game highlighting music from the band The Spin Wires.
Super Toy Cars boasts four-player local multiplayer and apparently in the future will allow eight-player online multiplayer, although this online portion was not available at time of writing for Cubed3 to review.
The Career Mode is short, the driving is basic, the physics are non-existent, the tracks are too similar in design and the computer AI is too easy. However, Super Toy Cars, despite these flaws, still manages to be fun and crazy and will have players laughing for some reason. Blasting cars with missiles and massive Magic 8 Balls never gets old.
The game has a very nice cel-shaded art style that ties into and emphasises the fact the races take place on a set of toys and are colourful and bright. However, some rough edges definitely show this game as one of a modest budget.
The soundtrack is very forgettable, but it is acceptable for what little it has to achieve in a game like this, simply giving some background noise to races. Cars sound fine and engines have a satisfying noise about them.
Available for £6.99 on the Nintendo Wii U eShop, it is probably just about worth it despite the shortness of the single-player experience and how quickly players will have collected enough coins to buy all the cars. The track editor and multiplayer add a decent amount of time to the experience.
On the face of it, Super Toy Cars should be a disaster, and yet, even despite the many flaws that it has, it manages to emerge from that as an experience that somehow comes out with a good bit of credit for its attempt. There is definitely something here; it is just hidden behind a lot of rough edges that can be assumed to be down to the very modest means of its indie developers. There is just something endlessly fun about combat racing games like these, and if the game had a new coat of paint and a lot of smoothing around the edges and some additional content, it could really shine. As it is, there is a game to be enjoyed here for players who can accept the many flaws and are realistic. For anyone else, they would be advised to wait considering the developer has stated it will be taking feedback into account for future patching.