Tiny Racer (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 20.09.2020

Review for Tiny Racer on Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch has a vast library of racing titles. From the iconic Kart racing series featuring the company's own mascot, to the raw and grounded racing simulators, whether searching for the highly realistic to the downright cartoony and whimsical, there are plenty of games to choose from. Now, IceTorch Interactive has blessed the console with yet another challenger: Tiny Racer. With eight "tiny" cars to choose from, and 15 short tracks to race in, this iteration aims to throwback to the youthful days of racing around in the bedroom with toy cars, and making them launch off high ramps for unrealistic flips and crashes. Despite its concept and the promise of hilarity, Tiny Racer fails to stick any of the landings.

The key to a good racing title is to ensure that the driving mechanics are highly-polished and tight. Unfortunately, Tiny Racer is the complete opposite, with an extremely loose handling of the cars. Within the opening five seconds of the race, it becomes obvious that these cars are a mess. AI cars begin ramming into each other, and rather than holding their ground, most if not all of the cars end up spinning out of control by the first corner. Sure, this might be funny for the first few moments that it happens - but by the end of the first race, the concept becomes old and bothersome.

Screenshot for Tiny Racer on Nintendo Switch

Winning a tournament, let alone a single race, depends solely on not getting hit or bumped by the opponents, as well as not giving the game a reason to send the car flying off the track. Every track has obstacles that are there to ruin the racing experience: from witches' hats to launch ramps, with the odd trick-corner thrown in to send all the cars veering off the path. Luckily, Tiny Racer does offer a respawn button to reset the car back on the track. Unfortunately, it's too difficult to catch up to the other cars on the track once the controlled car is at the back of the pack. Even trying to use respawn doesn't work most of the time, and oftentimes the car will respawn on top of another car - or even underneath another car. In other words, this button is redundant, and the best option after crashing is to pause the game and restart the entire race... even on Easy mode.

While the intention was to probably make these cars seem like the toy cars that got flung around in most kids bedrooms - this concept would probably have worked better if Tiny Racer was a stunt-driving game instead. Instead, the paperweight cars are so fragile that even accidentally hitting a traffic cone can send a car airborne and out of the race. Most stages have ramps that are designed to showcase cool jumps into the next section of the race, however it mostly turns into a car junkyard when all eight cars end up stacking it on the ramp and flipping all over the place for all the wrong reasons. Again, the idea of having a game where cars can perform "the 900" off a ramp sounds like something best saved for a stunt-based driving game, not a racing title.

Screenshot for Tiny Racer on Nintendo Switch

It is a shame as well, because the non-contact racing aspects are fine. Tiny Racer doesn't innovate the racing mechanics, instead opting for the simplicity of just accelerating, braking and turning. There are no power-ups to slow enemies down or any other whimsical feature that most other kids' racer contains. Instead, Tiny Racer becomes a confused experience: it seems like it's trying to be a kids kart racer, though it lacks any of the fun features commonly found in kart-racing titles. There are eight cars to choose from, however they seem to just be different skins on the same engine. A Kombi Van can go just as fast as a sports car for example, with a lack of statistics or car attributes to help separate these vehicles from one another.

Screenshot for Tiny Racer on Nintendo Switch

Even if Tiny Racer wanted to be a racing game where the expectation wasn't based upon winning, but rather just having fun and causing crashes and mayhem in sandbox tracks, then it would have been an improvement. Instead, there are only two tracks available from the outset - and the remaining thirteen tracks need to be unlocked by winning tournaments that increase in difficulty. Another major annoyance is that when racing, generally it's important to be able to see the track ahead in order to anticipate the road curving one way or the other - or at least having a mini-map to keep track of the road. Instead, Tiny Racer opts to blur out the distant track by dimming its focus - making it hard to see what is coming up. As expected, this will result in plenty of collisions that could've been fun if they were implemented better, and didn't force drivers to have to restart the race instead. Winning these races with the aforementioned issues regarding the ragdoll cars and the useless respawn tool, and navigating these races becomes the complete opposite of what a racing title should be - fun.

Beyond Tournament mode and Arcade races, there is a multiplayer option to allow for other racers to locally compete against other. However, all of the issues that plague the game are all present for multiplayer - and Tiny Racer doesn't provide enough fun for this title to be deemed as a hit for parties. Especially when sharing a console with Mario Kart 8, Tiny Racer needed to be much more polished with the collision detection, to at least allow for most races to be playable and fun.

Screenshot for Tiny Racer on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Tiny Racer is an extremely hard title to recommend to anyone. The non-contact racing is fine, and if there was an option in the settings to complete races without bumping into other cars or getting flung off the course by a ramp, then this might have had more going for it. Heck, even if it threw the racing out the window, and instead became a stunt-game that focused on accruing points for performing crazy and whimsical stunts, this would've been a more enjoyable experience - but alas, Tiny Racer takes the best parts of 'yeeting' toy cars in a bedroom, and turns it into a highly frustrating digital experience.

Developer

IceTorch Interactive

Publisher

IceTorch

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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