Childhood, Is That You?
As a child I played with Hot Wheels, as most boys did, but never fostered an obsession with them. I think it had something to do with my parents dreading the Hot Wheels racetrack sets. Surely, my dad balked at toy cars launching into our house plants, tripping over tracks, and inevitably cleaning up all the pieces. Enter Budge Studio’s new mobile racing game, RaceCraft. It has all the appeal of creating your own Hot Wheels racetrack, but without the headache of lost pieces and sore toes.
Known for games aimed at young players, Budge has created a title with some crossover appeal in RaceCraft. Players can build courses and then race cars on their very own tracks. Each arena is made up of grids that can have tracks and other items such as ramps, loop-de-loops, and conveyor belts placed on them. The player is limited only by space and imagination. Well, I did build one track so long and complex that it broke the game. But most younger players probably won’t run into this issue.
Building a Better Racetrack
The game’s bright pastel colors are pleasing to the eye and thankfully just varied and muted enough to avoid giving you that headache that comes from the videogame equivalent of too much candy. RaceCraft offers simple gameplay, mostly centered on the actual building of the tracks. Players can demolish a track they don’t like and infinitely update old tracks.
Each stadium comes equipped with special grids where, when the track hits those sections, the player’s energy meter receives a charge. This meter can also gain energy by winning races and building exceptional racetracks. Once an energy bar fills, the game rewards the player with various prizes. These range from a new paint job for the car, useful enhancements such as car shields and off-road tires, new terrain, and various track types, including potential obstacles such as buzz saws and bounce pads.
Racing, Letdowns, and What Could Have Been
The racing itself is rather simplistic. The player keeps the car moving by repeatedly tapping an icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. This icon features a power bar that, once full, offers a burst of energy that is helpful when clearing jumps or trekking through mud. It can be surprisingly satisfying to watch your car fly off a track and explode because you didn’t set something up properly. It’s possible to prevent this by testing cars out on the track while still in build mode, but what fun is that?
The main issues with the racing are twofold: races seem to fly by too quickly unless you conceive a truly arduous track and it is nearly impossible to lose a race. In the several hours I spent playing RaceCraft, I only lost once. Another major oversight on Budge’s part is the lack of ability to share tracks with other players online. For a game with so many possibilities, RaceCraft seems content to be played as a solo game.
This brings me to one of the game’s biggest letdowns. You only get one free car to choose from. That’s right, just one, which severely limits your ability to experience a variety of racing styles. The other cars featured in RaceCraft all have sleek designs and handle differently, with varying strengths and weaknesses, but they each cost a whopping seven dollars in real cash. That is an astronomical price for a make-believe car in a mobile video game primarily aimed at kids.
Sometimes Less is More (And Imagination is Enough)
Still, I found myself returning to RaceCraft again and again to make a more daring and perfect racetrack than before. It could be the child in me who missed out on those crazy Hot Wheels sets, but I found myself having substantial fun building these tracks. I was able to construct a few that were ambitious enough to noticeably extend the race time.
RaceCraft has quite a lot of free content in spite of its deficiencies. I still haven’t unlocked everything. Serious gamers may only get a few hours of fun out of this title, but the demographic it is really meant for—kids—will probably be happy enough with what they get. If you’re a parent, RaceCraft sure beats stepping on Hot Wheels or tripping over broken hunks of plastic racetracks.
Is it Hardcore?
RaceCraft is a game intended for kids that even adults can enjoy that offers a lot of free content to make up for its deficiencies. Serious gamers may only get a few hours of fun out of this title, but kids will probably be happy with what they get.