Table Top Racing is one of the more pleasant surprises of the year. Originally released on iOS in 2013, Playrise Digital recently ported it over to PS Vita. For a game heavily reliant on sharp turns, and complete control over your toy car, it feels right at home on Vita.
Yes, you’re literally racing on top of tables. I didn’t really notice at first, but you’re tiny. The cars are the sizes of Hot Wheels, yet you won’t notice until you take a good look at your surroundings. Table Top Racing looks good enough. It doesn’t blow it out of the water, but the textures are nice, cars and environments are well designed, and it runs generally well. Tracks are built differently in regard to loops, shortcuts, and sharp turns, but it doesn’t feel that way since a few look similar. It doesn’t help that most of the tracks revolve around food. Considering it was developed for iOS, Table Top Racing’s aesthetics are impressive.
I never thought that Table Top Racing would make me lose sleep, but here I am, with several hours clocked into a silly arcadey racer. TTR noticeably takes from Nintendo’s Mario Kart series, cleverly borrowing the one thing that matters: addictiveness. There were countless times where I wouldn’t stop playing until I mastered level I was on. It could even take up to an hour for the more challenging ones. This game is a straight-up blast.
In most races, you and CPU controlled cars race for the finish line (duh). There’re question mark boxes filled with either a bomb, short boost, missile, or EMP Strike. While these items will definitely give you a bump, they’ll rarely screw you over, either. There were a few rage-inducing moments, like when I was in first towards the end of a race and got missiled followed by an EMP. But even then, I’ll take that over Mario Kart’s heavily luck-based gameplay any day. First and foremost, you can’t buy coins for the best care and think you can win; skill is required. Relying on just the items isn’t realistic, you’ll need to be able to properly maneuver, use turns tactically — like drifting into an enemy — and most importantly, taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are essential, especially if you want to survive some of the harder game modes. Each track has its own set of shortcuts. As a result, you’ll be spending a lot of time driving through every crack to see if it’ll lead you to first.
In the Special Events game mode, you’ll be required to race with certain challenges in place, which also occurs in Championship mode, but this time, you won’t get the luxury to choose your favorite speed demon. The game will force you to use one of the slower cars, it’s frustrating, therefore, requiring you to know the in-and-outs of every track. Even after completing every event in the Championship stages with three stars, I was barely able to keep up with Special Events. They’re tough, man (or woman). I couldn’t imagine trying to play some of those events on an iPhone. Don’t even get me started on the Drift Events. Now those aren’t friendly in the slightest.
Table Top Racing is a time-sinker. For just a arcadey racing game, there’s a ton of content packed deep within those toy cars. From game modes with dozens of events to partake it, online mode, and to the unlockable cars, you’ll be getting more than you bargained for. Granted, it has the same problem that most small Vita titles do: the community is dead. You probably won’t be finding a match online any time soon. But that’s fine, as most of your time will be spent perfecting your techniques.
Unlocking cars, and buying upgrades for them is exciting. Once you get deeper into the game, the cars start to set themselves apart. Whether it’s from their designs, like the Wiener Mobile (totally just came up with that name), Bunnymobile, or the regular looking cars, they’re sure to fill your needs. Upgrading feels accomplishing, and you really start to see where your coins are going to. Coins are available to buy via PSN, or are earned through completing races. Earning coins doesn’t take much work, but can be a bit time consuming. Luckily you can buy wheels that give you coins every time you drift! Wheels are a huge part of races, I loved adjusting them to the type of challenged I had to complete. Drift Wheels for Speed Trials, and wheels with spikes on them for races against CPUs.
Table Top Racing is endlessly-addicting. There’d absolutely be no wrong doing in buying this game. With its fantastic cars, track designs, smart items, arcade racing fans are sure to get their fill. Just expect to spend quite a bit of time farming coins to succeed.
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