Toon Car (PC) – Review

Kart racers on the PC are few and far between. Toon Car is one of those. It is quoted on the front cover as “the best cartoon racer ever”, according to PC Gamer. Other outlets declared it as “the most playable cartoon racer on PC”, and “AWESOME!”.

These are bold statements to say the least, when you consider similar games of the same era. Developed by the no-longer-existent Revistronic, Toon Car seems to be a budget title. Even so, it’s time to put it to the test, and see whether the game lives up to its hype.

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At a glance

  • Game – Toon Car
  • Console – PC
  • Developer – Revistronic
  • Released – 2000

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License to drive

Upon starting Toon Car, Mr. Chatty, who acts as a guide, welcomes you to the game. His obnoxious, aggravating demeanour sets the tone for what is yet to come. What is to come? Not much, in all honesty. Toon Car is basic at best, without any notable attributes which set it apart. Standard practice, single race, and championship modes await. Multiplayer with four people is available, if you are hardcore enough to use it.

To even begin the first championship, you need a license. There is one test per class, which consist of knocking over cones within a time limit. Like the cones themselves, the tests serve no purpose other than to irritate players. This is one of several elements in the which don’t add any gameplay value whatsoever. Bad design such as this occurs throughout the entirety of Toon Car.

After passing the first license, it’s time to begin the championship mode. Championships follow the same format; score the most points, to unlock the next. Rinse and repeat, with the odd new circuit thrown in. Events take place across locations such as ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and even the Moon. The environments are dull and lifeless. The same goes for the characters, each of whom based on awful stereotypes. Weapons are unimaginative – mines, missiles and shields have appeared in countless other karters.

The audio is perhaps the worst element of all. There are just a handful of music tracks, with each as painful to listen to as the other. Sound effects are also tiring, as characters belt out the same laugh for every overtake made. Just when one thinks they have escaped the dulcet tones of Mr. Chatty in the menu, he appears during races, too. The mind-numbing monotony of the audio is a pain to behold.

Toon Car

Turban-wearing Sikh stereotype? Check. Italian gangster stereotype? Check. Wild West setting stereotype? Check!

Staying Tooned

Despite the insipid nature of Toon Car, it isn’t where the main problems lie. What makes this game go from boring to bad is one thing – in fact, several. As alluded to earlier, just about every aspect of gameplay is prevalent with flaws. Not just the number of glitches (AI will often become stuck), but horrific development.

One example is that you are often punished for leading the race. The AI is so slow to the point in which you can build a huge lead. Instead of programming faster AI, you will be bombarded with missiles. At times, it can be many missiles at once, meaning you can lose at the last turn – all in the name of ‘fun’.

Another negative is the speed of the karts. The first class of karts drive at a snail’s pace. The second tier of karts are a little faster, but the fastest ones are not unlocked until the final races. It takes two hours to reach this point, and you will have quit the game after two minutes.

Perhaps the biggest annoyance in Toon Car is the destructive scenery on each circuit. Not because of the idea, but rather the poor execution.  Besides opponents, weapons have the capability to destroy objects, such as buildings and trees. Pieces scatter onto the track, becoming obstacles for vehicles to dodge. Due to the poor collision physics between cars and objects, it makes the game worse than it already is.

No video game – regardless of format, genre or budget – should be a chore to play.

Toon Car

You always face the wrong way when hit by a weapon, in what is bad game design (again)

Tooned out

So what redeeming qualities does this game have? None, none at all. There is nothing that makes you want to carry on beyond the first race – or for some, even beyond the main menu.

The most astounding thing is that a publisher (Akaei) deemed it worthy of production. It makes you wonder whether the cover quotes  were in fact made up, to make it sound tolerable.

There is no enjoyment you can extract from this game, even if you persist with it.  Avoid at all costs.

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