Eclipse Games (the team behind the twin-stick shmup Tachyon Project, which I really enjoyed) recently released the arcade battle racer Super Toy Cars on Xbox One. We’ve been incredibly busy as of late, but they were kind enough to provide us with a code so we could check it out and provide some insight to our readers.
So what is it? Super Toy Cars is an arcade-style combat racer where the tracks are made of everyday household items, like cereal, candy, donuts, and toasters. It’s a bit like racing Micro Machines around your bedroom, except you shoot rockets and giant 8-balls at your friends.
The game features a pretty lengthy career mode, spanning 48 events across 12 different tracks (although there’s only 4 different themes, so repetition is bound to sink in sooner or later). It was cool to zoom our way across each track the first few times, pointing out different cereal boxes and whatnot, but none of the tracks feel very inspired. If Mario Kart taught us anything it’s that track design is extremely important in creating a memorable combat racer, and unfortunately it’s just not something Super Toy Cars pulls off. The tracks exist as a way to battle your friends or race against the A.I., but that’s really it.
The career mode gets fairly challenging, so there’s a heavy emphasis on unlocking the 16 available cars and spending your cash upgrading the hell out of them. This aspect reminded me a lot of the other indie combat racer on Xbox, Beach Buggy Racing, where you’d hit a brick wall until you bought a new vehicle and upgraded it to drastically improve its performance. It provides a nice challenge to anyone planning to spend most of their time riding solo.
The events in career mode are nice and varied, ranging from standard placements to things like evasion, where you race against the A.I. while avoiding landmines. The Xbox One version of Super Toy Cars features locals-only multi-player for up to 4 players, which is unfortunate as the PC version has online multi-player for up to 8-players for the exact same price. The PC version also features a track editor, which is absent on the Xbox.
It’s an okay local multi-player game, but it seems to be lacking polish and personality. Once I got beyond its toy and food-themed track designs, I was left with a basic arcade racer lacking any other sort of draw. The gameplay is nothing we haven’t seen before in other games. Grab power-ups, use speed boosts, Mario Kart drift around corners, repeat. While fun, none of the power-ups were standouts, like dropping oil slicks or shooting rockets. These are things that are featured in every other kart/arcade racer in existence.
It’s graphically passable and has a neat little touch where it reverts to a retro pixel racer on the pause screen. Part of me wishes Eclipse Games would have either gone with that approach completely or at least offered it as an alternative display option, since the current textures don’t feel modern at all.
Super Toy Cars suffers from some odd collision detection, so it’s commonplace to get hung up on walls and corners, like they’re smothered in molasses or something. Nothing really feels like it has any weight behind it either. They’re toy cars of course, but smashing in to other cars or walls just doesn’t give the feeling of impact. There’s more to unlock in Super Toy Cars than other arcade racers on Xbox, but there’s no characters or vehicle-specific abilities to make anything stand out.
If you have some friends over and want a fairly decent combat racer to play around with, you can’t really go wrong here, but if you’re looking for something with more polish and character, it’s possible you’ll end up disappointed. If that’s the case, I’d probably recommend Beach Buggy Racing instead. Super Toy Cars isn’t a bad game by any means, it just isn’t more than a passable way to spend your free time on the weekends. Especially when major features like online multi-player and a course editor are present on the PC, but completely absent to Xbox owners for same price.