Studio Playrise Digital has recently launched a clever new micro-scaled racing game for Apple's App Store, called Table Top Racing ($2.99). As the name indicates, the basic theme for the iPhone and iPad app is that of a kid staging imaginative "races" with toy cars – all along the surfaces of handy, obstacle-dotted table tops. After spending a few days with Table Top Racing, here's what we thought.
- The overall look and feel of the game is chunky, charming and easy to understand. Menus are simple and streamlined, and designed so that you're pretty much always just one step away from your garage, where all of the important car selecting and tuning happens. The graphics are bright, clear and clean, though hardly cutting edge in the ever-more sophisticated world of tablet/smart phone gaming.
- Racing action is very simple to catch on to. Races happen in a few different formats, but basically this is a Mario Kart-lite experience. Drive wacky cars, fire weapons or set traps along the track, try to survive the race and finish in first place.
- Steering is accomplished by way of right/left buttons on the extreme sides of the screen. We played Table Top Racing exclusively on the iPad for this test, and found the steering buttons to be a bit on the small side. It's too easy to "miss" the button zone and then miss your turn as a result. Don't expect your Micro Machine-style racer to handle with realistic physics, either. This wasn't our expectation, and the driving is perfectly satisfying for a game of this type with such stylized handling.
- Difficulty feels spot-on in this app. It's easy enough to get started and win a few races off the bat, and earning enough money to keep your racer competitive isn't too challenging in the early going. By the later Championships, the going is reasonably tougher. Of course, TTR allows for you to make purchases of in-game coins using real money, too, so you can buy your way into the top-spec cars whenever you get too frustrated.
- With all of that said, we would def finitely consider this to be an "all-ages" app. Kids should have no problem with the straightforward controls; adults will find even the enough variation in difficulty to make this enjoyable.
- At $2.99, this feels like a good buy from the App Store. If our weekend's worth of testing is any indication, you'll spend 10 hours or more just working through the Championships, and a few more than that completing every race and buying every vehicle. This is a really good choice if you've got a few long flights, train rides, etc. staring you down, with nothing to while away the time.