Game Rant's Dwayne Holder reviews TNT Racers
TNT Racers is an arcade racer from German developer Keen Games that may surprise many who have lowered expectations of this title. At first glance it looks like a generic combat racer, however once players get into it, they’ll be pleasantly surprised that this game offers a ton of fun in a small package.
The title was originally released on XBLA early last year and is now available on PSN. The TNT in the title stands for Tracks-N-Tricks - which might be misleading to some gamers. Some will read this and assume they can do stunts with their cars. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and it’s really more about playing tricks on other racers with the various power-ups they’ll acquire.
The modes players will have the most fun with are the Knockout Rounds where gamers must accumulate the most points by collecting coins or utilizing their power ups. Knocking out other racers makes this task somewhat easier. Those who are knocked out will return in a different form to exact their revenge (we'll talk about this feature in more detail later).
The other modes are comprised of standard time attacks that may feature obstacles to be avoided or, in some cases, need to be smashed into. The time attacks, where players need to crash a set number of obstacles before running out of time, are the dullest part of the game - and there is no option to skip these challenges. When playing the campaign the player must complete the current challenge to continue on. It would’ve been nice to have the ability to pick and choose preferred challenges - and skip a few without being entirely hindered.
There are several cars to choose from, each with their unique cosmetic style. While they may look different there isn’t a drastic difference in speed and handling. This is a good thing since anyone can pick their car on atheistic alone and have a level playing field with other racers. In general, the cars control very well and it will be easy for anyone to jump in and get used to the controls - which are very simple.
The game supports one to four players both online and off. This sounds like a small number of racers, especially with games of this type normally housing around eight competitors. That said, the small number of racers on the track actually helps the game. In most combat racers, players can set off weapons that affect racers who are way ahead of them (we're looking at you Mario Kart 3DS). In TNT Racers players have to stay with the pack or suffer the consequences. As a result, the gameplay is fast and frantic as racers battle for the lead. During a round all the cars share the screen and if a car gets cut off at the bottom of the screen that player is out of the race - that’s when a new level of fun begins. Racers knocked out of the race return as ghostly “Shadow Racers” and their objective is to mess with the remaining racers in an attempt to prevent their rivals from winning.
There’s plenty of strategy involved - even when returning as a Shadow Racer. Say for example a racer is leading in points but gets knocked out during a round. When coming back as a Shadow Racer that player can then focus their rage on a remaining racer that is closing in on their points. It’s a nice twist that prevents other players from sitting on the sidelines waiting for the race to end.
The power-ups are different for normal and shadow racers. Normal items include a Candy Cannon, which fires large pieces of candy, to Confetti Mines. The options for a Shadow Racer are limited but no less fun. They can use a tractor beam that hold racers back or a giant hammer which can destroy a car or knock them back. A tornado can also be used to send racers flying.
TNT Racers is full of cartoony charm. Each car has their own persona with the Muscle car looking mean and fierce to the Street Racer looking cool, calm and collected. The tracks sport bright vibrant colors and look great - however the camera could use a bit of tweaking. There are times where a player could get lost in the environment (i.e. under some trees) - just because the camera didn’t pan quickly enough. The only way around this is to memorize the track, which isn’t difficult since they tend to be pretty small.
There is online multiplayer and it is as fun as playing single player. That said, since the game isn't a high-profile title, it's not always easy to find people to play with. There are very few people playing this game online - though, hopefully this changes in the near future. Fortunately, the game is still a blast to play on a couch with a bunch of friends, and it could make for a fun party game.
In the end TNT Racers is an entertaining racing title. The gameplay is quick, fun and great for short bursts as well as longer sessions. Gamers hesitant on putting down the $10 bucks for the game are highly recommended to check out the lengthy demo for the title.
TNT Racers is available now for XBLA for 800 MS Points, PSN and the Wii for 9.99 and PSP for 7.99. Game Rant played the PS3 version for this review.