We aren’t playing Micro Machines any more
Eclipse Games newest title, Super Toy Cars, is a tabletop arcade racer and departure from their previous effort, Lightfish. STC tasks you with racing diminutive toy cars through 48 levels of giant fruit and household items, and is reminiscent of the Micro-Machines games. Over-sized props are where the similarities end though as the setting is mostly superfluous to what is essentially a Kart racer.
16 different cars are available to you and run the gamut from glamorous to peculiar. None are officially licensed but clearly emulate the look of exotic rides like Porsches and Lamborghinis as well as the odd and outrageous Hippy Bus, hot-rod VW Bug, or F1-Racer. Straddling a line of cartoony realism all the cars look great and have a toy-like look to them. Each one has several aspects that make them handle and drive differently and all of them can be upgraded through career mode, though we found that you could still be competitive against the AI cars using the same car throughout the entirety of the game even without upgrades.
Along with Career mode there’s Free Race, Build-a-Track, and multiplayer modes. Both local and online modes are available allowing 4 and 8 friends to race together, respectively. Local play is great and splits the screen into halves or quarters. This is a much better proposition in 2014 with a large flat-screen than it was playing Golden Eye back in the day on our 19” Sony Trinitron. Kart racing on a couch with your friends is probably the best way to approach STC as you are almost certainly guaranteed a good time. The online lobby was devoid of players and after a couple of minutes of waiting STC automatically launched the course with AI opponents. This being an Early Access game, we would imagine more players will be available once it débuts and/or gains a following. Build-a-Track looks interesting but doesn’t include instructions or even labels for some of the components, we hope this mode will get more attention in the near future. Even still, the track creator is rather mundane; featuring only a flat surface and a few objects that actually impact the racing experience; that brings us to the courses themselves…
Racing in STC is fun for the first couple of laps but the tracks (of which there are 12) all look and feel the same. The developers include all sorts of in-game objects but aside from a watermelon slice or two none of them are utilized as track pieces and are mostly things you simply drive past. We would have liked to see these objects incorporated into the courses like in Micro-Machines, which would have added much needed variety. Perhaps, this is something Eclipse is working on but as of now the tracks are small and flat – so much so, it seems that 90% of the jumps and ramps occur right before a turn in the course.
Like all Kart racers, there are power-ups to be had and used against the competition. The offerings are light but include the standard fare of missiles and oil slicks and other over the top weapons such a giant rolling eight ball of death, which can be useful and fun to deploy just as your friend thinks they’re going to cross the finish line ahead of you. There’s also a nitro gage that increases with the amount and duration you drift through the course culminating in a short boost of speed. We found this to be a really fun part of the game and some of the tracks seem tailored made to drift all the way through.
Super Toy Cars is what it is; a budget, but competent kart racer with a variety of great looking cars that sticks to a formula and doesn’t try to do anything different or innovative. While we feel that there are better examples in this genre, the days are still early for STC and our critiques could be addressed in the coming months of development. At the low initial price of $7 USD, Super Toy Cars is worth taking a look at, especially if you have friends or house-mates to take advantage of the split-screen multiplayer.
Super Toy Cars is now available on Steam