by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Ready, Set, Go!
A racing game with a variety of different competition styles, all set on a miniature scale as the toys of children race around and around. This is the exact premise of Super Toy Cars, as one could easily imagine from the name. Going into the game, I was expecting something either trying to rekindle the days of the Hot Wheels PC games or something to compete with racing games based around cartoon style mayhem such as the Mario Kart series, or even the long forgotten Diddy Kong Racing. What I found was neither here nor there, but something in between.
Getting into my first race was simple enough. I opted to do the Career mode to experience the game as well as gain the required points and coins to unlock new races and cars. The race itself lacks the feeling of high speed you would expect from a racing game, but with all the vehicles evenly matched, at the very least there was still that thrill of fighting for first place. Racing around through a course lined with children's toys, shortcuts, and sudden jumps here and there made up for the lack of high speed intensity; then came the power ups, which vary from game changing heat seeking rockets to mostly useless giant 8-balls that the other drivers always manage to avoid with ease due to the slow speed.
The first race comes to a close, with myself as the victor, and immediately I move into a Time Trial. Beat the top time for the maximum score and payout: simple enough. Unlike most games where time trials put pressure on your shoulders, there was no pressure here at all. I found myself able to beat the top time with ease, even without the use of boosts or shortcuts. From there I'm exposed to modes of racing where the last car every 15 seconds is eliminated, where drivers have to dodge randomly placed mines, and another variant of the usual time trial called Time Attack which isn't much different at all.
The tracks themselves are interesting enough, but other than the default races and the elimination modes, there isn't much that grabs your attention to make the game fun. Luckily, the races and elimination modes occur often enough in Career mode to maintain that level of interest.
After racing for a while in my starting vehicle, I upgraded to a toy car modeled after a classic American muscle... only for it to race and handle just about the same as my old vehicle. On the one hand, the vehicles being so similarly balanced is good for young players as it allows them to go for vehicles based on aesthetic preference rather than worrying about statistics. But to the player focused on optimizing their vehicle absolutely perfectly, that is something that can be seen as a downer.
There is the ability to upgrade your vehicles but the upgrades make little to no difference in the overall feel of the vehicles. At most you will get to the front of the pack a little more quickly, but when other vehicles can boost and use power ups the same as you it usually won't matter. Considering the way the AI is established as well, getting to the front of the pack without the upgrades is usually doable anyway, so it's purely a coin sink.
Vehicle variety is very nice, however, relating back to looks overtaking the statistical aspects. Of all 16 vehicles, each with several paint schemes, each has a unique flair about it that appeals to someone. My personal favorites were the truck modeled after a late 40's early 50's Ford and of course the classic American muscle mentioned earlier. But I also saw jeeps, a 'hippy' van, an F1 Racer, and much more! There's literally something for everyone in the lineup I saw in terms of looks.
Outside of Career, Quick Race, and Multiplayer (which sadly has few players online), there is the Track Editor. Simplistic but fun, it's easy for anyone to jump in and design their dream track within the limits set, of course. Players can adjust the size and shape of the track, fill it with props of their choosing, and, by being able to do those things, they can make a race as exciting and challenging, or as boring and mundane, as possible.
Creative minds will spend a lot of time in the editor, perfecting the ultimate race track for these toys to race around on, while others may find it more opportune to race on tracks others have made instead of making their own. I took my time trying out some other tracks featured in the Steam Workshop, and I found a mix of good and bad that really demonstrated the uniqueness on both sides of the spectrum that can be obtained from what at first appears to be a simple track editor.
Super Toy Cars is not a game aimed towards adults, and yet it was still a rather enjoyable experience even for me. Though it lacked the challenge of big name racers, or the finesse and quirky attitude of games such as Mario Kart, Super Toy Cars still manages to shine where it matters most: Fun factor. It's also a very well put together little title, considering I didn't encounter a single glitch during my entire experience, which is very rare. For children looking for a fun racing game for the PC, I would definitely suggest looking into this game. For adults? I'd still suggest at the very least checking it out if you ever see it on sale.
Track editor; vehicle variety; laid back racing atmosphere; Race and Elimination modes are very fun.
Vehicle upgrades mostly useless; time related modes are uninteresting filler between races and elimination events.