Super Toy Cars 2 (STC2) is the latest in the Super Toy Cars series from Spanish developers Eclipse games. Building on ideas from the previous game in the series, this racing game immediately draws parallels with mascot kart racers and in particular the Micro Machines franchise. With the most recent title in that series being the massively mediocre “World Series” in 2017, does Super Toy Cars do enough to pick up the slack?
Racing games have evolved so much from early incarnations. From simply being able to choose a driver, who’s stats often affected the gameplay, now comes a huge range of game modes and customisation. Super Toy Cars 2 is no exception, taking an approach similar to other racers whereby cars are unlocked with cash generated from winning races and those cars can have upgrades purchased for them. You start the game off by purchasing one basic vehicle from a variety of classes (Whacky cars, Muscle cars, Gran Turismo, Super Cars and Open Wheelers). There are unlockable paint jobs and the cash generated from racing can be used to buy upgrades to your car including engine, tyre and gearbox as well as reducing the weight or improving your boost or drift abilities.
Career mode has a range of races bundled into one cup, in order to give players a flavour of the variety of modes on offer. For example, the first cup in the muscle car category has a traditional race, time trial, destruction and death race modes. Each mode adds a little twist to classic racing as you cruise through various themed courses to achieve your goal.
There are plenty of individual modes to work through in quick play mode, and these are unlocked from the start for players to enjoy ranging from the purist’s paradise of “clean race” all the way through to “death race” where your car’s destruction signals the end of your run.
There was no online play option available at the time, but a local multiplayer mode is available, which the switch obviously makes easier with the JoyCon setups. But the game would benefit from an online multiplayer setup, or the ability to use multiple switch consoles in local multiplayer if it wants to challenge the bigger titles in the genre.
Driving around the courses it is often difficult to see the path ahead, and the map displayed on the screen is a merged spaghetti junction of lines that aren’t easy to follow, so knowing the course layout is a key part of success in this game, and clearly designed with this in mind. As well as this, there are item boxes dotted around the relevant courses that hold a number of items ranging from speed boosts to missiles. The game includes a homing feature for some items, requiring the button to be pressed twice to activate and release said item.
Graphically, the game doesn’t break any records but performs as well as any other indie title you’d expect on the switch. The aesthetic is relatively immersive. You do feel like you are a tiny toy car and regardless of the environmental setting, you aren’t taken out of that experience when looking at the surrounding environments. A great example of this is when taking damage, early on (because I am bad at racing games) I noticed that the cars broke apart exactly as you would expect a toy car to break, no “realistic” car damage, wheels pop off, doors snap off and as anyone who has ever broken a toy car before will see, the game has certainly made an effort to recreate the “build” of a die-cast toy. Where the graphics let themselves down is that the textures don’t cope well with fast-moving objects, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a bit of an issue for a racing game. Tyre smoke flies off the track with a “blocky” appearance that is more accustomed to Mario Kart 64 than a Nintendo Switch title, there is also a nice sheen of blur placed over certain images, whether that is to add to the aesthetic or not I couldn’t tell.
The audio of the game is a real crowning delight and certainly deserves a strong positive mention. The game is packed full of an eclectic mix of tracks spanning a number of genres. But combined with this is an ability to select and deselect tracks at will, similar to the feature in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games. This allows the player to have a tailor-made soundtrack to their frenzied romp through the courses, I will admit I am guilty of solo playing the Ska tracks featured as I tore around the diner themed level.
The controls of the game won’t feel dissimilar to anyone who has played a racing game in the past, with clear buttons to accelerate (trigger), brake, drift and use items all being controlled on the right JoyCon, while the left analogue stick controls the movement. Drifting around corners gives a speed burst similar to the Mario Kart games and there’s the ability to press and hold the ‘X’ button if you need to return your car to the correct position. The steering is relatively responsive and I didn’t encounter any issues while using the controls, besides those designed into the game vehicles, if I had a car that handled poorly, the controls didn’t feel as responsive for example.
My main complaint is that, for someone with whom racing games represent a relatively small proportion of my switch’s library, the controls went against the muscle memory I had clearly developed playing Mario Kart 8 repeatedly, causing me to slam into the barrier a number of times for not pressing the drift button, or burning out my plastic wheels at the start as I hold down the drift button rather than the accelerator. This could easily be fixed with a selection of button configurations though and is a shame this wasn’t included.
So the big question is, does this game do enough to rival similar titles? Well, the short answer is yes but there are a number of caveats. Fans of racing games will possibly see this as an inferior kart racer that attempts to look realistic while having mascot kart charms. Players who are looking for a fun alternative to Micro Machines, then yes, this does the job. One of the biggest issues with “World Series” was it’s lack of career mode, and this does feel like the missing piece to that game. If Codemasters and Eclipse were to collaborate for example then they would possibly have a nostalgic hit on their hands. The main drawbacks are the graphical polishing and the lack of an online multiplayer function. Without that last feature, the game’s replayability drops massively. You can work through owning all the cars and all the paint jobs and spend cash upgrading them all, which is a lot for an indie title, but definitely one for the completionists amongst us. The casual gamer will choose a few of the popular cars and move on relatively quickly.
Overall, this is a fun title, and with it coming onto the eShop straight into a sale, I would certainly recommend it for anyone who was a fan of similar toy car games or families looking for a cheap alternative to kart racing games that they can all join in. With a few simple patch updates this game could end up being a hidden gem of the eShop, but if left as is, is likely to fade away into the “junkard” of pretty good indie titles that blend into the background.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Super Toy Cars 2 Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 5/10
Super Toy Cars 2 is a fun game that has potential, with some fine tuning. Lots of detailing, but struggling under the bonnet.
- Huge variety of themed courses.
- Huge variety of game modes to choose from.
- Some popular takes on common toy cars.
- Great soundtrack with the ability to make custom playlists.
- Lack of online multiplayer or any multiplayer beyond the couch.
- Graphically weak at times, particularly in fast paced play.
- Replay value is limited.