IndieTrials
Toy Cars
Developed by Eclipse Games
Released on February 21st 2011
Sold on XBLIG for 80 MSP
Review details
Reviewed on March 20th 2011 by Martin Caine
First impressions
The box art for Toy Cars is pretty nice looking. I think the title could've been better done but the car displayed on the cover looks good and suits the style of the game well. Loading the game is pretty quick and you're presented with a nice view of a Mini (or Mini-like car) rendered with a cel-shaded look. The menus seem fairly well designed and while I understand the game is trying to keep a cartoony look I think the choice of font isn't the best for the menus and text displayed on these intro screens. First impression is still pretty good though.
Trial experience
After quickly looking at the menus I start the first race in my career using the default car provided (the aforementioned Mini). The track loads up and I press A to start. Driving the car is pretty easy and even players who don't play many racing games will be able to handle this default car fairly well. The track looks very well designed, there are obvious Micro Machines influences here however there is one thing I didn't like about this first track. When you go over a ramp the nose end of the car dips and sometimes you and up just spinning round and heading off in a random direction. This is because the physics engine has been given full reign over the movement of the cars. While in some simulations and certain games you might want this behaviour, I think in a cartoony game like this you should over-ride this sort of behaviour and keep the car level so the player can land from the jump and keep on racing.

The game looks very nice, it combines cel-shaded style with proper shadows cast from the world and the cars. This provides quite a stylized look and sets the game apart from all the other racing games on XBLIG. I did notice some jittery shadows when racing but they were mostly away from the focal point of the player, towards the edge of the screen. While minimal, it is a graphical bug that could probably be fixed.

I win the first race and head into my second, even more obvious Micro Machines influence here as the race takes place on a Snooker Table. Again, the race is fairly easy, this time I have a little more competition from the AI cars and notice that car to car collisions can sometimes knock you wildly off course. It's not really realistic but you can compensate for it when you know what to expect. At one point I bounce off a pool ball as if I've hit it too but I'm sure I was a little way off the ball as I was driving past.

As I drive more I keep noticing the collision sound doesn't really fit the game very well. It sounds like someone hitting a steel drum rather than two cars hitting (and the same sound is used when a car hits an obstacle). The driving sounds are perfect but I think this one sound doesn't fit well.

I win the race again and have enough money to buy a new car so I buy the next model up and head into my third race. This next car tries to drift round every single corner. Not only that but it seems to skid off wildly on some corners which is a little annoying. Even after a few laps I'm finding it hard to keep control of the car and get overtaken by all the other cars. The trial ends before I reach the end of the race.
Overall thoughts
Toy Cars is a fun little racing game in the style of Micro Machines with a great cel-shaded look to it which makes it unique and stylish.

Alot of thought has obviously been put into the design of the levels and the game's visual style but as with many games I think the user interface seems rushed and doesn't match the quality that's presented in the actual races.

I did manage to fit in almost 3 full races in my trial and saw there were plenty of other cars available that I could get to race in the full version. Even though I was disappointed with the interface I think the gameplay alone would sway me towards buying the game and that makes the trial work.
Rating