Friday, March 2

Review: Super Toy Cars [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there aren’t a ton of racing games on the Switch the fact that the platform is host to the mack daddy of all go-kart games still sets the bar to make an impression in the genre tough on the console. Aside from the sheer volume of content in Mario Kart, complete with iconic characters, refined tracks, and online multiplayer what is exceptional about it is how well-executed the base mechanics are. Without even getting into new additions like steering and acceleration assist that can help less experienced gamers shine it is all about the feel of the track, the technique of drifting, and the generall smooth and seamless action. The reason I point these areas out is that they somewhat read like a manual of things that Super Toy Cars unfortunately struggles with, making the ample content it brings to the table a bit moot.

No doubt taking theming cues from classics like Micro Machines you’ll be playing on tracks that feel like they were created in a kid’s room and other locations within a house. Populated with over-sized household objects, toys, and food you’ll have to keep your wits about you and keep an eye out for short cuts and sudden obstacles like blocks that can get knocked in your way. Power-ups are also present and add a small dimension of combat with a mix of traditional weapons like a missile or oil slick but also including more novel ones like a giant 8-ball. As you work your way through the Career mode you’ll slowly accumulate money with your wins which will allow you to buy new cars (there are 16 to choose from) and even upgrade them to help tune them more to your liking. Through the Quick Race option you can also practice or set things up so you and up to 3 of your friends can compete locally.

In order to help keep things a bit more exciting there are a few racing modes to choose from as well. Traditional options like Race, Time Trial, and Time Attack (essentially a checkpoint race) are complemented by Elimination and the more inventive variation called Evade. This riff on the Elimination race adds in mines that are randomly peppered around the track, adding to the unpredictability and potentially the fun factor as you can try to bump your opponents in the direction of danger given the chance. Lacking an online mode this is about the extent of your options, though at least with 15 tracks multiplied out by the mode options there’s at least an attempt to provide some variety.

More than anything else where the game falls apart, sadly is in the execution of fundamentals. Regardless of your car’s stats there’s a certain floaty nature to the steering. While you can adapt to this in particular when you get into trying to manage your turns it is a bit of a mess. Feathering your accelerator isn’t a great option, your drift is a bit too tight and lacking in nuance, just in general there’s not a great feel. Adding to this problem is the fact that whenever there’s any change from a continuous flat plane, whether transitioning from the floor onto a ramp, or worse trying to drive up a curved surface, the limits of what the game’s physics engine can do can immediately become apparent. It’s clumsy, stiff, and not very good in terms of visuals or what it does to your control. The physics problems extend to when you collide with pretty well anything, whether it is another car, a wall, or whatever. To compensate, making almost any contact with a wall seems to immediately reset your car to another spot on the track. While this is often probably for the best at times it really felt as if it was jumping the gun. Unfortunately all of these core issues greatly diminish the enjoyment to be had with racing.

Even if Mario Kart weren’t an available option on the system (though, no doubt, a much more expensive one) I’d find it difficult to give Super Toys cars more than a very tepid recommendation. Even among some of the other flawed racing titles on Switch its struggles with the fundamentals of a quality racing experience make it tough to love even if you have some nostalgia for its overall looks. All things considered it struggles to keep pace with the pack and is forgettable unless you’re really jonesing for that Micro Machines feel.

Score: 4.5

  • 16 cars and 15 tracks show some level of effort on the content side
  • The Evade mode is at least something a little different as an option
  • The soundtrack is actually pretty fun and worked for me

  • In terms of racing fundamentals it is lacking in most key areas
  • Since the physics engine struggles horrible with driving on curved surfaces it would have seemed to be a good idea to avoid putting them in so many areas of the tracks
  • Power-ups are generally hit or miss and uninspired

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