When you’re as rabid a Mario Kart fan as I am, anything that offers local multiplayer racing action needs to be played and unfairly compared to Nintendo’s flagship racer. I missed the original TNT Racers on Wiiware, so I was keen to give this 4 player racer in the vein of Skidmarks (and to a lesser extent, Micro Machines) a go. And at the decent price of $9.99 from the Australian eShop, I’m glad I did.
TNT Racers is a single screen, top down racer for up to four players. The objective is to be the first player to reach 10 or 12 points (and win the race) by using various weapons and dirty tactics to knock your opponent off the edge of a track or to the bottom of the screen, where they’ll get left behind and ultimately crash out. It’s as simple as it sounds, but developer Keen Games has put in the effort to ensure you get your money’s worth.
In a game like this, the single player mode shouldn’t be as fun as it is. It’s thanks to the career mode, which includes some pretty sweet challenges that help mix things up. For example, racing around a dessert course and trying to smash through sixty cactuses (or cacti) in a pretty strict time limit. You’ll be surprised and grateful that this mode is included. You can’t always have four friends in the room, and it’s good to see Keen have given the player something fun and interesting to do when they’re playing alone. There’s also custom race mode, available in single or multi player, that allows you customise basically everything in a race. Choose which weapons are in play, how many laps, AI levels, and more.
The game controls well, though everything is standard here. “A” accelerates and “X” fires a weapon, while the shoulder buttons are for drifting. TNT doesn’t really make use of the Gamepad in any interesting ways- the Gamepad player has their own screen and that’s it. But it does support the Pro controller and Wii remotes, and adding in a new player is as seamless as it should be.
It’s difficult in any genre to make a four player game that uses a single screen. TNT succeeds, because all the vehicles have (or at least seem to have) the same speed and physics handling. In a normal racing game this wouldn’t wash- but the developer has been smart in ensuring a level playing field for all racers no matter what car they choose, because half your losses will come from being left behind and falling off the bottom of the screen. The other half will come from falling victim to other players pummelling you with various weapons or slipping off the edges of a track. You can’t really balance out advantages (like you can in a fighter, for example) when the gameplay is this simple, and Keen Games has clearly recognised this.
As I said, I never played the original Wiiware game, but looking at Youtube videos, the graphics seem to have just been given a HD coat of everything, and it looks overall crisp and clear. Simple, but serviceable.
The sound on the other hand, gave me the shits. The soundtrack is kind of a 1920’s swing mixed with 1960’s jazz, and in a racing game it doesn’t really appeal to me. It’s different, sure- but it gets old very quickly. Thankfully there’s the option to turn the music off, keep the sound effects, and crank some Ridge Racer style techno from the stereo while you play.
For a ten dollar game, I’m overall pretty impressed with TNT Racers. While I’ll concede Wii U is experiencing a AAA drought right now, it’s good to see some indie developers giving us value for money titles. With 16 tracks, over fifty challenges, (with online leader boards for each of them) and a whole heap of game modes, TNT Racers comes highly recommended for those looking for something a little bit different. 8 out of 10.
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