Groove Racer Review

You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em, and Know When to… Not Hold ‘Em

· · @LBD_Nytetrayn

Ah, slot car racing. Generally speaking, you have two main types: The stuff used for professional-styled competition, and the kind that cousin of yours got for Christmas, set up and covering most of the floor of some room of the house somewhere. You’d get together, run the cars around the tracks a few times, and before you know it, you realized just how ultimately boring the whole thing can potentially be once the thrill of the cars being flung from the track by their own momentum begins to fade.

It’s the latter which Groove Racer seems most evocative of. Generally speaking, it’s true to the source material. The problem being that the source material wasn’t all that great to begin with. On the bright side, at least it’s free.

Two Speeds: Fast and Way Too Fast

The only thing simpler than learning the controls in Groove Racer would be to watch someone else play it. You touch the screen to go, and let go to stop. That’s it. No virtual Dpad on the screen, no tilt controls for steering– you’re either going, or you’re not. Just like the real thing, where competitors hold a trigger to go and release to stop, or even slow down briefly.

Mastery, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. As noted before, holding the trigger down too long in the real life version will generally see your car being flung from the track, which can be kind of cool– especially if it goes flying into the holiday tree or figgy pudding. Here, however, there is nothing quite so grand going on; instead, your car simply spins in place on the track. Worse, the opposing car will pass right through you like a ghost, which just kind of dulls things a bit there.

Presumably, you’re supposed to accelerate and release accordingly when circling the track, but there doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason as to when you’re supposed to do it, and the game doesn’t provide pointers. At first, it seemed that orange markings on the track indicated “danger,” insomuch as what going too fast would bring, but upon playing further, there seemed to be no such logical consistency. Sometimes our car would hit an orange area full tilt with no negative repercussions while an unmarked turn would see us spin, spin, and spin again; other times, the exact opposite. The same goes for when trying to release the gas before hitting a turn; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

This might not be so bad, except the car you’re supposed to beat doesn’t seem to suffer as it manages to go full tilt around the whole track. Sure, it spins out occasionally for whatever reason, but the overall effect doesn’t seem to wear on its progress as much as your own.

Make Tracks

Unlike the toy tracks you’re likely to find at the store, at least these are surrounded by some nice environments. Far from realistic, these appear to be constructed from blocks, lending to the toy scale of the whole thing. Overall, though, the surroundings are purely aesthetic, and seem to have no bearing on the race. At least the shapes of the tracks themselves are rather varied as you continue on your way through the game.

Similar, each track has a different choice of car (the developers’ choice, not yours) to race with. Jeeps, sports cars, buggies, and police cars are among those you’ll take control of, though for all intents and purposes, they seem to act about the same. Without being able to switch, it’s difficult to tell whether one might experience improved performance with one over another.

Race to the Back of the Closet

As noted before, Groove Racer feels true to its source material– the source material just wasn’t that good to begin with. Playing it reminded me of visiting cousins and friends over the holidays who scored such sets way back in the day, but without the more physical aspects of the game– cars flying off the track, or crashing into each other– it’s just overall not quite as interesting.

On the upside, though, it is free. So if you’d like to recapture some nostalgia, show your kids a simulation of what you used to play with, or just remind yourself why the set ultimately wound up confined to the back of the closet until you went to college and your mother cleared out your room with a yard sale, downloading Groove Racer is a great way to do it.

3.2 / 5


At least it's true to the source material. tweet

David Oxford · Mar 19, 2014

User Reviews

Great arcade mini-racer

Great, colorful racer with addictive arcade-style gameplay!

Posted by Senna 10 years ago

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