I so much wanted to enjoy Super Toy Cars. I really like kart racers and love the idea of virtually racing toy cars around my living room at home. And, to be honest, I did enjoy the game, for the short bursts when everything worked and there was still content to play.
Super Toy Cars has an interesting drift and boost system. While slightly fiddly to begin with, it gets more rewarding the more you practice. In order to boost, you have to drift around corners to increase your power bar. You then press B to activate and drain your boost. The boost can only be toggled on and drained, however. This is annoying as you have be really careful or you’ll end up boosting into a wall.
This problem is alleviated somewhat by the ability to drift and boost at the same time. This allows you to refill your boost bar as you use it. However, this won’t increase the length of time you can boost but, rather, will allow you to boost again instantly. The feeling of nailing a boost and drift combo is similar to getting the perfect line in a platformer and quickly became my favorite part of the game.
The rest of the gameplay is fairly standard, with a collection of seven power-ups. This includes a glue spill, spring trap, boost refill, and the 8 ball. The latter is my personal favorite as the car literally fires an 8 ball that will rebound off of objects. The gameplay wasn’t affected by the powerups as much as would be expected. In fact, I often went through entire levels without really getting hit or hitting anyone else.
There are two modes in the game, Career and Quick Race. In Career Mode, you choose a car, out of a selection of 16, upgrade its 7 parts to increase its stats and then race in 48 different races. 15 different tracks in the game are rotated in five different ways, and you complete these races in order to get more money to get better cars, etc. Listing these stats out makes it seem like a lot, but it only took me approx. 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. That’s all races, placing 1st, all cars bought and all upgrades completed.
The first six sets of races are easy to achieve first place in, while the last two are slightly harder. However, this is mainly due to frustrating events such as hitting walls than tight finishes against competent AI. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the races I played, I did, but they just didn’t last long enough nor present enough of a challenge for the enjoyment to last. In addition, to complete the game, I only had to purchase three cars, excluding the first one. This annoyed me, slightly, as it meant that 12 of the cars had gone to waste.
As I’ve previously said, there are five race modes. This goes from your standard races, to time trials and time attack, to eliminations and ‘evade’. Of these five, only one, evade, was really original. It had you dodging randomly appearing mines while participating in an elimination race. To begin with I enjoyed ‘evade’ the most, because it was something I haven’t played before. It also brought a little personality to the game. However, by the end, I was cursing the randomness of the mode because it became more about positioning your hits with the mines to propel you around the track, instead of into a wall, than dodging the mines entirely.
I think my favorite mode was probably Time Attack because it had the most legitimate tension of all the modes. I sometimes only scraped to each checkpoint and I knew it was solely my lack of skill rather than any random items or collisions with other racers that got me to that position.
The other game mode is Quick Play, which allows you to partake in any of the maps, in three sizes, in any of the five game modes, using any of the fully upgraded cars, without having to buy them. This fun little practice mode is helped by the addition of up to four-player split-screen multiplayer. This can be joined by anyone as long as they have a set of Joy-Cons in the vicinity. However, there is no option to race online which seems like an oversight in this hyper-connected world (although there is a fastest lap global leaderboard that I appreciate, even if changing the game mode doesn’t affect the scores). My main problem with it, however, is that the maps aren’t named so you instead have to choose by looking at a single screenshot.
The graphics are fairly decent for the type of game it is. The set pieces really bring home the ‘race track made in your living room’ feel (or baby-room, street, kitchen, garage and candy store as the tracks are called). The cars themselves are varied and as detailed as most toy-cars I’ve seen. In addition, most of the time, the animation keeps up with itself. You can also edit your cars’ color and paintjobs, the latter being something you have to unlock through play, which is a nice touch. The soundtrack is an interesting one as I thoroughly enjoyed the reminiscent music of early 2000s rock. Despite this, having just two songs with lyrics (as well as at least three instrumentals) left me wanting more.
The UI is mostly good, although slightly irritating in the tutorial. This is because the button you need to press is blacked out rather than whitened, which confused me for a while (this may just be me, however). You can replay the tutorial in the extras section at any time, which is helpful. You can also check your stats, such as playtime and various fastest laps, which I always appreciate.
Finally, the main thing the game needs is some serious polishing. Some of the walls are invisible rather than textured. This can lead to awkward collisions with what I originally presumed were shortcuts. In addition, you can sometimes squeeze through the walls (especially in the baby-room tracks) and keep going. Now, while you can get back onto the track (and, so, this could be assumed to be a shortcut), all the other racers disappear but can still take over you.. Also, in the garage tracks, there is a grey half-pipe which I more than once ended up floating slightly above, and, in one race, ended up speeding off the end randomly, as if I had boosted.
A more creative aspect of the game that is attempted is the ability for your car, especially the early ones, to tilt over. I respect this and like the fact that it could add another element to the gameplay if it worked. Instead, you can fall into the floor and get stuck or just hit something and reset. A tip here is to turn off auto-reset, which can be a little too trigger happy.
Overall, Super Toy Cars is like the titular toy cars it’s based on and that are currently in a box in my garage somewhere. A little unpolished, with less content that I expected, but with fun little bursts of nostalgia that pushed me through until the end.
A Nintendo Switch review copy of Super Toy Cars was provided by Eclipse Games for the purpose of this review