December 13th, 2012 | By Sarah Bishop
Alright racing game fans—it’s time to assess a new addition to the ranks. Namely, lets put our hands together for Robot Race! Now the ever-present concern when looking at a new racing game, at least for me anyway, is whether or not it actually is a new racing game in its own right rather than a see-through knock-off of Mario Kart or Burnout. I am pleased to say that while that mustachioed plumber’s influence is visible in the gameplay, Robot Race has several mechanics of its own to bring to the table. Combined with an overall atmosphere that is genuinely fun and unique, I believe it deserves our commendations for working to take things its own direction.
As far as unique mechanics go, Robot Race has several that are worth mentioning. For starters, those of you who are terrible drivers can rest a little easier—it’s impossible to drive off a cliff or off the track. If you attempt it (on purpose or otherwise) your robot will be given a chastising course-change to put you back on the right track. While this little bump of assistance by the course will not slow you down or drop you back in after losing a significant amount of time, it does have the tenancy to be a little less than gentle, potentially flinging your racing robot into a much more debilitating nearby trap or obstacle.
This next mechanic is one I find personally to be rather interesting—every robot has a batter gauge at the lower left of their screen which begins filling as soon as the race begins. Once it is full, it can be expended for a speed boost that negates negative effects of your opponent’s weapons and accelerates you rapidly forwards. This boost begins filling as soon as it has been used, can be used at any time during the race to either negate weapons or simply pile on the speed. Coupled with a jump button that can send your robotic avatar hurdling over obstacles and a brake that can be used to drift sharply, there are many strategic ways to avoid weapons rather than simply trailing turtle shells behind you.
The weapons themselves are nothing particularly special— the standard array of stationary obstacles and seeking weapons is available for the attempted annihilation of your foes. All of the non-stationary attacks, however, have a target-locking system that allows you to single out one of the bots in front of you and blast at them with precision. The weapons, interestingly enough, can be purchased for use in the races along with additional playable robots, courses, and robot skins by means of a gem system. Gems are either earned by winning races or by purchasing via the App Store, as is typical with most gem systems.
But those of you who fear change need not panic—many of the classic elements of a racing game are present as well. You may choose to play either single races or circuits, and each circuit is unlocked by taking first place in its predecessor. There are several different robots to choose from, each with its own set of stats and a personality to complete the package. The robots can be driven either by tilting the device or by switching to touch controls. The control design is simplistic and easy to use, so full marks for that can be given.
Robot Race‘s graphics are clean and well-detailed for an iOS game, and the music that goes along with each track has been stuck in my head for days. The game’s replayability is good, especially if you are the type of person who simply must unlock everything. There’s also a system of badges that can be achieved every race to help motivate you to play again and finally earn all of them. But if you don’t have that urge to catch ‘em all, you may quickly become bored with the game’s six courses and two modes.
All in all, Robot Race is a fun game. All the elements come together nicely to create a racing game that is easy to pick up and play whenever you have a few minutes to race a robot for jewels, badges, and glory. But it’s a casual game for single players only. If you’re looking for something to suck you in for hours or a game to challenge your friends with, you will have to turn your eyes elsewhere.