Review: TNT Racers (PSN)

TNT Racers is basically a throwback to the top-down arcade racers of the 8-bit days. If you’ve ever played a kart racer, or an arcade racer from the early 90s, you’ll know what to expect. Think of RC Pro AM or Rock n’ Roll Racing for a comparison. The sad thing however is that TNT Racers cannot even come close to either of the aforementioned classics. Let’s take a closer look….

Title: TNT Racers
Publisher: DTP Entertainment
Developer: Keen Games
Genre: Top-Down Arcade Racing
Price: $9.99                                                                                                                                                                                    
Pros: Easy to pick up, quality track selection/design, creative and funny power-ups.
Cons: Broken item balance, bad camera, unfair AI, slippery controls, online experience sucks.              
Verdict: Bland attempt at a top-down racer with some funny moments, but overall falls short in every category.

Publisher provided code for review purposes.

Your sole objective is to hold down the gas, drive fast, shoot weapons, and laugh at the destruction. There are multiple cars available, but most of them handle the same. There is a break button, but you’ll never use it. Like most games of the type, this was built for instant pick-up-and-play accessibility. Single player modes are divided into Challenge, Time Trial, and Custom Race. Challenge is the meat of the game where you’ll find the various racing modes such as Score, Knock Out, Time, and Lap. Some modes have you smashing your opponent, while others can have you trying to scroll the competition off the screen (which is an insta-kill in all modes). These modes are available in multi-player as well. Theoretically, they’re available in online mode as well, but absolutely nobody was available online to play during the four days this title was here for review. Take that as you will. It’s a shame too, because the AI in single-player has a habit of singling out you over other computer controlled opponents.

The power-ups take as much attention as the actual racing, if not more. There’s around 12 different weapons/attributes to collect ranging from generic cartoon mallets, mines, anvils, nitro, and other random cartoon oddities. If you enjoy blowing stuff up – this is great. If you’re wanting a balanced racing experience – look elsewhere. The weapon balance is nearly broken. If you’re in the front, then you’re screwed. The three players behind you are just going to spam you endlessly with projectiles. If you’re in first, the players behind you are screwed because you can drop oil slicks and mines for most of the race. Some races can last as little as 5 seconds before you’re completely destroyed. Since your car instantly explodes if it is scrolled off the screen, some races can end before even crossing the starting line if you get tangled up at the start. To counter this, some races feature “shadow mode”. Think of it like the revenge bombs in Mario Kart 64′s Battle Mode. While you can’t win as a shadow car, you can make life a living hell for the survivors.

A highpoint for the game would be the track design. TNT’s track variety and design is really good. Don’t expect any masterpieces, but a lot of joy can come out of the old stand-by desert, arctic, jungle, etc. track styles. The graphics and sound continue that aura of getting the job done, but not really standing out. TNT-Racers has this generic “Hannah Barbera Wacky Races meets Crash Team Racing” sort of look to it that serves the purpose, but doesn’t really work towards endearing you to the game since the style is so plain. Visually, The soundtrack is going for a sort of 1950′s World War II “Boogie-Woogie” style in the flair of a Warner Bros. cartoon of the day, but comes off as incredibly annoying in extended sessions. There’s just little variety to the sound. TNT-Racers biggest flaw is the controls. Everything has the slippery feel to it, much like other top down racers of the past have been known for. Turning is slow, and the handling takes a ton of adjustment and practice for success, which is especially saddening for such a casual play title.

Long story short, there isn’t much to this game. It gets the job done, but there’s little to keep you interested beyond the first five minutes, and there are more quality casual racing releases on the PS3 that deserve your attention. TNT Racers would fair better as an iPhone title. Pick up PixelJunk Racers instead for some superior top-down view racing fun.

GrE Grade: D+

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