Ever since Super Mario Kart first hit the scene, a formula has been created which many have tried to capitalize on: Cartoonish racers + silly items + outrageous racetracks = Fun and profit. Table Top Racing is the latest to employ said formula, but does it take the checkered flag, or does it hit the wall?
On Your Mark…
Table Top Racing is not lacking in charm or character, to be sure. Characters, maybe, as you’ll only ever see the toy-like vehicles themselves and never the drivers, but not in character. There are 17 miniature motorized automobiles to choose from, ranging from the sporty and classy to the downright silly. Have you ever wanted to cross the finish line in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Mad Dogs Hog-Diggity-Dog? Now is your chance– once you unlock it, of course. As one might expect from a game of this sort, many– in fact, most– of the vehicles are unlockable at the start, whether it be by winning certain races or earning/buying enough coins to open them up. Until then, you’re stuck with either an ice cream truck or a mock-VW van.
Racing takes place across eight different Micro Machine-esque table-top racetracks set to four different main themes: A workshop, a barbeque, a Japanese meal, and a toy room. Each comes alive with their own flourishes and lots of neat little details, though at the same time, they don’t appear photo-realistic, either.
Table Top Racing features numerous options, from racers and how to customize them down to what kind of race you want to run. Championship mode has you racing across a variety of different challenges similar to Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed’s World Tour Mode in the name of receiving that cup’s trophy. Drift events challenge your drifting skills, but you have to unlock a particular car in order to participate in them (not all vehicles can drift here). Special Events arm you with different in-game items and challenges you to master their use accordingly, sometimes with a specific car, across four levels of increasing difficulty. Finally, Quick Race is just that: A quick race around one of the eight tracks of your choosing against computer-controlled cars.
While the game sports a lot of character in its appearance and tons of options on top of that, the truth of the matter is that the racing itself just feels kind of bland, particularly compared to other samples of the genre. It never feels particularly fast nor furious, even when you mistime a turn and fall off the table. Racing against computer-controlled opponents (there is no multiplayer, by the way– logging into your Google+ account only allows you to look at Achievements and Leaderboards) is a little tepid, with pretty much everyone moving across the starting line in a big huddle until someone manages to break free.
While the courses are somewhat varied in appearance, none of them feel all that different from one-another. No nails on the workshop track, no grease spills from the barbeque on its track, no bouncing balls or Jack-in-the-boxes to avoid on the toy track, or anything of the sort. You basically just race around on not-quite flat ground, hoping to take the lead and get the right weapons to help you take the checkered flag.
Truth be told, Table Top Racing isn’t bad, but it’s not especially good, either. It feels like the product of someone working on a movie or television show saying they need a game that’s basically like Mario Kart, but isn’t Mario Kart so as to avoid licensing. And so we have this as our result, a functional game which neither sinks nor soars. With a price of “free”, it’s hard to recommend against it, but there are better, more exciting, and more engaging racers out there, even if you have to pay a little for them.