RC racing around your uncle’s mansion.
Things on Wheels, from Focus Home Interactive, puts the player in control of a little radio controlled car and then challenges the player to race around an extravagant mansion, along imaginative courses that most young boys will have dreamt up in their youth. The player will compete in the various races to unlock new cars, each of which have different driving capabilities, with the goal of becoming the ultimate radio control racer.
It will come as no surprise to find that ToW is an arcade racer and, as such, any player who has played an arcade racer before will find the controls fairly simple and easy to get to grips with. The customary power-ups can be found littering the tracks, offering the player some aid in defeating their rival racers. These include the usual speed boost and shield, along with the slightly more entertaining freeze and static shock.
There are a couple of different modes available including the all-important championship. There is also the option to race others in both local and online multiplayer.
There is something that really appeals to me about racing miniature cars around a full sized environment. It ignites the same amount of interest in me as monster trucks. They both reside at opposite ends of the racing spectrum, yet both offer a similar thrill, although monster truck racing probably has more destruction.
ToW does a lot of things right. The setting is interesting and there is plenty to look at as you navigate the windy tracks at speed. Not that you will be doing a lot of sight seeing as the game portrays a real sense of speed and the player will be concentrating on what lies ahead rather than the scenery. The vehicles also offer a nice variety, even if their colour schemes are slightly imaginative. The tracks have plenty of variety within this seeming world of giants, with all manner of everyday hazards littering the tracks, such as the ever dangerous gumballs.
But unfortunately ToW also does a lot wrong. The game offers a one mistake and its all over mechanic where one slight error by the player can spell the difference between winning and losing. This is compounded by the flawless performance of the AI racers, who also have absolutely no problem with trying to ram you off the track. Being knocked into a barrier during a race will bring your vehicle to a complete halt, more often than not, and lose you precious seconds.
But, whilst these problems can be passed off as adding to the challenge, badly designed tracks cannot. Yes, I said that the tracks are interesting and fun, but there are just too many glitchy areas where a player can actually get stuck and have to reset. When this happens it causes nothing but frustration and the inevitable loss of the race. Upon finding these glitchy areas, which generally won’t happen until the player has been caught out by them at least once, it then becomes an exercise in concentration to simply avoid these areas, making the player race more cautiously.
The game looks great with its oversized backgrounds and simple looking vehicles. The level of detail is not outstanding, but certainly manages to portray the surroundings, such as giant sized tables and chairs, with success.
Things on Wheels is actually a great little RC arcade racer, with a couple of major flaws. These flaws are not enough to “break” the game, but do reduce the enjoyment somewhat. That being said, there is still a lot of fun to be had and players looking for some RC action will certainly find it here. Things on Wheels is available on XBLA for just 800 MSPoints.