It seems like every month there's a new racing game with ultra-realistic car models and physics, but sometimes playing with tiny toy cars can be just as (if not more) fun. Toybox Turbos takes us back to a time when racing games were all about entertaining competitive races without any of the superficiality that comes with today's triple-A titles.
Once you turn on Toybox Turbos, you're treated to a brilliantly colourful action-packed loading screen followed by the funky theme song complete with a lively brass section and jazzy flute melodies. What a way to put a smile on your face right off the bat. After you jump into the action, you'll be grinning from ear to ear at the incredible environments and cutely animated vehicles. The audio is remarkable as the funky and jazzy soundtrack adds a layer of merriment, and sound effects suit the action well. Vehicles sound like they have actual car engines and weapons are satisfying to use (especially when you hit other vehicles). Overall, Toybox Turbos' presentation goes above and beyond what you would expect of a game about racing toy cars.
The environments generally consist of places where kids would set up tracks for their toy cars such as the breakfast table, an art desk, a classroom, a playroom with a wooden train set, and a pool table. There are 18 tracks in total and each is brimming with unique charm. The 35 vehicles are as diverse as the tracks and are divided into categories that include public transport, off-road, construction, service vehicles, street cars, emergency, and finally race cars. Each car has its own personality complete with bright colour schemes and suitable animations. You can even paint vehicles yourself with a simplistic menu in the garage.
Toybox Turbos features very simple controls as players only need to accelerate, brake/reverse, steer, and fire weapons. If you don't have a weapon equipped then the weapon button is used for a horn which is a fun way to taunt your opponents. The controls are tight and responsive as racing your tiny vehicle is satisfying even at high speeds. There are three settings for the camera which include an angle that automatically focuses on the track or top-down with either a static or rotating camera. This is great as it allows players to experiment and find what works best for them. Laps are quite short as they only last about 30 seconds each but this works in the game's favour as races never become drawn out. A significant problem with the gameplay is the fact that even the slightest mistake may cause you to lose an entire race. This happens because it's easy to get stuck behind an obstacle and the time it takes for your vehicle to respawn after falling off the track is way too long. Although it can feel very frustrating and unfair, it also encourages players to strive for perfection. That being said, impatient gamers should probably stay away from this game.
Single player mode consists of 42 various challenges within seven cups that correspond to the different vehicle types. These challenges include basic races against computer controlled opponents, time trials, trying to overtake as many slow-moving vehicles as you can, outrun a persistently approaching wave of colour, collecting clocks before the time runs out, and elimination boss battles. All of the challenges are varied enough that each one feels fresh and encourages you to keep trying to unlock all three stars. You collect coins as you race and receive large bonuses for performing well in a challenge. These coins are used to unlock more vehicles. Although all of this is satisfying, some challenges can feel unfair and repetitious as you struggle to pass them. These difficulty spikes are mainly due to unrealistic goals. For example, a strict time trail goal may require you to drive absolutely perfectly while using every single shortcut in order to just barely succeed. It can get discouraging quickly, but persistent players will be able to master every challenge eventually. If you manage to finish the campaign then you will unlock mirror mode for multiplayer which is a pretty cool reward.
Toybox Turbos features both local and online multiplayer. Although single player has many different types of races, the only way to play multiplayer is with elimination rules. This is acceptable since it's hard to imagine the other types working as well as they do in single player. Basically, if a racer is too far behind or gets their vehicle destroyed then they get eliminated. Players start with a few points each and will have one or two either added or removed depending on how well they do in each segment. Once a racer has a full meter of points, they win! It's simple and it works very well. The segments may last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. It gets exciting when two or more players are evenly matched and keep going until one eventually crumbles under the pressure.
There seems to be a racing game for everyone. If you prefer realistic racing simulations then this probably isn't for you but if you just want to have some whimsical racing fun by yourself or with friends then Toybox Turbos is definitely a download-worthy title.
- + Colourful and lively graphics with awesome funky music and satisfying sound effects
- + Wide variety of vehicles and environments
- + Both online and local multiplayer are a blast
- - Even the slightest mistake will have devastating consequences
- - Difficulty spikes occur in single player challenges