slotCar Mania in Review – Not Much Chaos Here

Overhead racing games are a lot of fun, but long before we had cool electronic racing games people were participating in overhead racing matches in a number of venues, one of which was slot car racing. slotCar Mania attempts to recreate the feel of that all-ages past time. Minus the nifty trigger-based controls, feelThere actually manage to do a pretty decent job of it. The down side to this is that when you take away some of the modern “conveniences” of electronic racing like weapons and music, the game just isn’t quite as exciting as its contemporaries.

I applaud the developer’s attempt to do something different, as the game adheres pretty strictly to the feel of a slot car racing set. You travel along a predefined path, and any deviance from that path, whether because you’re traveling too fast or too slow, will cause you to fall off the track. If you fall off, your car unceremoniously fades away, and then shows back up on the track after giving the opponent a second to get further ahead.

If you play season mode in single player each race is 10 laps, and in single race mode you can set the number of laps in increments of 10 and also set the allotted time for a race. Whoever completes the required number of laps under the given time limit first, wins. If you win in season mode, the next track will be unlocked (there are 10 altogether). A track can only be played in single race mode once it is unlocked in season mode.

There’s a multi-player mode as well, but I’m guessing it only works over local WiFi. So far I’ve had no luck connecting to a server, and when I set myself up as a server, the IP address is for my local network. That’s too bad it doesn’t support internet (or doesn’t seem to), because multi-player allows up to four racers, and I think it would be lots of fun.

To control the car you can either use the accelerometer or touch control. The accelerometer has you tilting back to accelerate and forward to slow down, and when you get to a certain speed you can hit the Turbo button for an extra boost. When using the touch method you have a button that takes you about half way speed wise, and the Turbo button takes you the other half. The net result is the same, but I find the touch a bit easier for maintaining speed and the accelerometer better for achieving “in between” speeds. Whatever control scheme I use, however, it seems that I get worse and the computer gets better as I progress through the tracks. I’d like an “easy” option where the computer stays as bad as me, so I at least have a chance of seeing the more difficult tracks.

The graphics are actually really good. Unfortunately there’s no dynamic zoom, so if you have it close up you can appreciate the detail and if you have it zoomed out you can see at least most of the awesome track design (depending on the size of the track), but you can’t get both in the same race. The only thing I wish was better was the lame “crash” when the car gets derailed – the whole fade-away thing seems a bit cheesy.

Sound, on the other hand, isn’t so great. The main noise is the car itself, and while it does sound pretty authentic, after not too long it gets annoying and begins to remind me of wind howling through an elevator shaft. There is no music, and you can’t even play your own tunes, which is a bit unfriendly.

I’d liken this to the rail shooter of the racing world. It’s not a bad game, especially if you’re nostalgic towards the whole slot racing thing, but it doesn’t provide a lot of freedom of movement, which can make anything above 10 laps somewhat dull. If you’re an avid racing fan you might want to give it a try, and it might also suit you if you’re not very good at free roaming racing games. The in-betweeners might not appreciate it as much, however.

App Summary
Title: slotCar ManiaDeveloper: feelThere, Inc
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req:2.1
Price:$0.99App Size:69.9 MB
  • Cool tracks
  • Decent controls
  • Good graphics
  • Very structured racing
  • Multiplayer local only?
  • Bad sound / no music

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