How do you find its place on a Nintendo Switch if it’s an arcade racing game, when it already has a Mario Kart, a Crash Team Racing, a Team Sonic Racing and a Nickolodeon Kart on it, all of a quality ranging from exceptional for the first to really not bad for the latter? Some have taken the successful gamble of setting up a futuristic universe and subliminal speed like Fast RMX or Redout, others have taken us to a miniature world, this is the case with the friendly Hot Wheels Unleashed or Table Top Racing and so on. is also the niche that the Spanish developers at Eclipse Games have chosen to fill with the third title in their Super Toy Cars series, Episode Offroad. The chance for us to see how much the road to achieving a good racing game is a path that is littered with potholes.
After the very forgettable Super Toy Cars first of the name and its sequel, soberly decked out with a number 2, the Offroad episode arrives on our Switches today. We’re still in control of miniature race cars in a full-scale world. Owners of graying hair fondly remember his model: Micro Machine, a beautiful game for several people, but uninteresting in solo.
To spice up the genre, in their day, titles like Re-Volt had decided to add items that could be used in the race to protect themselves or attack other competitors, in short a Mario Micro Machine Kart like. Super Toy Cars Offroad doesn’t try to vary the formula and just offers a Re-Volt clone. Why not ? If the quality is there, the fun is necessarily waiting for us just around the corner. The key word was the “if”…
The menu that welcomes us is already very scary. The graphics and navigation are reminiscent of late 90s titles. Yellow rectangles and ergonomics to make a high school programming teacher cry. We have the choice between a career mode, a quick match mode and options split between two menus…why not.
Let’s start with this one, surprise, we can choose to activate an automatic gear and an automatic direction. A racing game where you don’t have to touch the controller anymore, you had to think about it for a while. These tools are completely useless because they are imperfect. Our vehicle will often take the walls along the track and the acceleration does not need to be managed, constant support is more than sufficient in terms of management.
But let’s get back to what makes the heart of a racing game… well, the race. When starting the career mode, we start by buying the only available car, the buggy. This is how we unlock five leagues. In order to progress in each of them, we must achieve goals corresponding to the different game modes available. The classic race, the no item race, the death race, the time trial, the knockout race and the drift mode.
The tire track that hurts
Before we got to this slip mode, to be honest, we spent a moment, certainly not exciting, but at least not unpleasant. Elimination, death and classic fair races get the job done. The variations are minimal and we always play the same way, but the change of objectives brings funny injustices. Because yes, an elimination race regularly eliminates the last candidate, taking a rocket and going from first to fourth when the timer goes to zero is necessarily infuriating, but that’s the game.
We have fun, we moan, we slowly learn the circuits and especially the shortcuts, in short we are making progress. Until disaster strikes. From the second mission of almost each of the leagues comes a skid mode. In this one you have to make as many skids as possible. The idea is nice, but the execution is disastrous. Our vehicle is far from very precise to handle, the skid accentuates this problem even more, the skid detection zone is very narrow and above all, what the delirium of wanting to make us skid on a quasi-line on the right!
If the first races are won from our first entry, it is an indescribable frustration that in this second phase of the competition you will be blocked by this slip mode and spoil half the fun we had competing against our opponents at a fairly fast pace. to fight. We are far from the masters of the genre that Mario Kart is, but trying to reach the items in front of our opponents and then using them wisely always gives a sense of accomplishment. Why mess it all up with a really poorly thought out skid mode.
Perfection is in the details
We find imperfections like this all over the place in the latest title from Eclipse Games. A spin through the control menu and we see that the gas button becomes the choke button, whoever can tell us how we came up with that term wins an autographed washing machine. There are also small flaws of invisible walls that block us, harm us, and that while the object in question is at a safe distance enough not to worry us.
These wanderings ruin a level design that is quite well designed with lots of shortcuts and turns to negotiate with the handbrake. We are far from the madness of the levels of the last Mario Kart, but for an independent game, the desire to vary the landscape and add a dose of the unexpected with traps adapted to the world must be underlined. Special mention to the rake in the Japanese garden, which has the merit of regularly surprising us.
Graphically, it’s the same observation. We move through levels with many objects to use or bypass. Unfortunately, the impression of constant blur spoils these sets, the textures are quite poor and a camera close enough to the ground too often limits our field of view that we can’t decide which direction to go in.
Likewise, the trend is mixed in terms of content. If the number of fifteen circuits is fair, just like the number of cars, we feel too soon to buy a new car just for the cosmetic appearance, since the buggy starting allows us to win many races without suffering more than is necessary due to the technical improvements to be acquired. Meanwhile, the soundtrack tries to innovate as best it can and does the job of getting us in the right mood.
- The sets are full of elements and details…
- The level design is well thought out with lots of shortcuts to explore.
- The available modes bring nice little variations
- The driving sensations are pleasant.
- Circuit content is present.
- … but they suffer from very pronounced blurring.
- The slip challenge is a disaster.
- Some annoying invisible walls.
- The comparison with the competition hurts.
- The ergonomics of the menu are highly perfectable.
- No online mode or four player mode.
- The camera is set too low and sometimes obstructs the view.
- Autopilot and auto-gear are useless.
- The grip with half a joy-con is not optimal.
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