Table Top Racing, for those of you who don’t play games on your phones or tablets, is a racing game that uses the conceit of a bunch of toy cars racing around a track made out of household object. In fact, if you remember playing Micro Machines back in the early 1990s, you’ll be fairly familiar with the idea. This time around, though, we’re reviewing the new PS Vita release of Table Top Racing. Let’s see how much revving we need to do.
Table Top Racing gives you a choice of cars to race around a set of eight tracks against other cars across a number of championships and special events. If you’ve played a racing game before, this isn’t going to be anything revolutionary to you. In fact, if you’re familiar with Mario Kart, you’ll be doubly at home, since the game features a bunch of weapon pick-ups that you can use to hobble your opponents. Fair is fair, after all. Or was that “all’s fair in love and…racing”?
You unlock new cars and championship cups by proceeding through the game’s career mode, and you can purchase upgrades to any of your cars by spending coins you earn in-game. If playing by skill and earning your way through the game isn’t your thing, there’s the “pay to win” option where you can purchase coins to upgrade your cars from the start. You still have to play through the campaign to unlock the cars, though. One class of upgrades you can purchase is new wheels, and these dramatically alter the game for you. For example, one set of wheels shields you from enemy munitions. One turns you in a raging monster that throws all the toy cars off the table in a blind rage. Ok, not that second one, but you have to admit that would be brilliant.
It’s racer that’s aimed firmly at the casual gamer, so it’s the “pick up and play when you have a spare moment” kind of thing that Table Top Racing is going for. And it works brilliantly. The tracks aren’t long at all, and you can easily finish a race in the time it takes to be shooed out of the bank for being too rowdy*. To break the monotony of simple race after simple race, there are different kinds of races available, from straight no-weapons deals to no-holds-barred to “catch the car in front” to elimination style races. It’s varied enough that you won’t get bored soon.
One of my biggest issues with the game is just how annoyingly difficult it is to overtake the other cars. The tracks are seriously narrow. We’re talking the kind of narrow where even a Higgs boson will have trouble navigating the track. The kind of narrow where spacetime mathematics fail. The kind of narrow where… (Ed: I’ve cut about 14 instances of this joke from the review. You can thank me later.) Basically, you’re going to have trouble overtaking. The toy car peloton tends to be a big, jostling crowd, and it is going to push your anger buttons. All of the buttons. Especially the bright purple one over there. This is, of course, compounded by playing a mode with all weapons enabled. Even if you’re in front of the pack (and it will never be by a massive amount), one hit to the tailpipe will put you at the back of the class with no easy way to get back to the front. Smaller issues will include a lack of customization of controls, and a distinct lack of introduction to new users. There are no instructions, no button map, nothing. You’re on your own here, mate.
Because Table Top Racing for the PS Vita is based off the premium version of the mobile game, the costs of upgrading are, thankfully, reasonable compared to the free version of the mobile game. This means that you can still conceivably earn all your upgrades by racing. It’s not easy, but paying 15,000 coins for a set of tyres is much better than 50,000 for the same set in the free game on mobile.
Minor issues aside, it’s a fairly solid racer with a decent amount of content for the price. The pay-to-win thing annoys me, because it puts poorer players at a disadvantage, but if your gripe’s the same as mine, you can always just ignore the big shiny “Buy Coins!” button. Online racing seemed stable, although I struggled to find enough other players to race against. Your mileage may vary when looking for other people to race against. All in all, it’s a fun racer that has that distinct “pick up and play” vibe, and there’s enough content here to keep you busy for a decent amount of time.
*Not a true story†.
†Ok, mostly not a true story.
Final Score: 7 micro prawns out of 10
Developer: Playrise Digital
Publisher: Ripstone Games
Platforms: PS Vita (Reviewed), iOS, Android
Age Rating: 3+
RRP: R87 (PSN)