I’m handing over to Dave for this review – car racing and techy toys are very much up his street so he was almost as excited about the Anki Overdrive Starter Kit as Ben:
Anki Overdrive, for anyone not familiar, is a cross between Scalextric and a mobile phone racing game. When I opened the Anki Overdrive Starter Kit I was greeted by two cars, a charging station, some track risers and ten pieces of track (6 bends and 4 straight pieces). You may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned any means of controlling your cars but that’s what brings this toy into the modern era and I’ll explain more about that in a minute. The track pieces use magnets to hold themselves together, making it very easy and convenient to try different track shapes, a number of which are suggested on the box. After you’ve put your track together and charged your cars you need to download an app to your phone or tablet (Android or iOS) which will let you control your cars and navigate the game generally. Once you’ve downloaded the app and created a profile you are asked to put the cars on the track. The cars then drive around the track to ‘scan’ it. A diagram of your chosen track shape is drawn on the screen of your device as the cars ‘scan’ it. You can then race. Either against a friend or a computer opponent. You control the speed of your car via your phone’s screen to race around the track, and you tilt your phone left or right to change lanes as you race. Necessary for overtaking. More importantly, the phone gives you control over one more thing which sets this apart from games of old . . . the weapons! Yes that’s right… Weapons. As you’re racing around the track you can blast your opponent to knock them out of action for a few seconds which can really change the shape of a race.
Each car has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. In their natural state, one is quicker while the other has more firepower. Of course this keeps things interesting. If it’s necessary there is an option to ‘balance’ the characteristics of the cars for a more even competition. As you race you accrue gold coins which you can use to buy upgrades for your car in the shop through the app. These vary from car to car but follow the usual themes of bulking up your firepower, your weapons range or the ability of your car to take damage before it is out of action ‘briefly’. Ben loves the upgrades and spends ages reading through all the options before buying his additions.
Different game modes are available after you’ve played a few games against the computer and unlocked them. The interesting thing is that when you are playing against the computer you still have both cars on the track which makes the racing feel more real than just playing on your phone. The game mode that Ben and I play the most was ‘Battle’. In this game you are both racing around the track but the number of laps you do makes no difference. The aim, unsurprisingly, is to knock out your opponent. You fire your weapons through your phone. In reality, a light flashes on your car, but if you’re close enough to your opponent then he takes some damage and his phone will vibrate to let him know. After as while you can get an upgrade which allows you to fire weapons behind you which keeps the racing interesting.
If you’re feeling flush you can add to your track with more bits of track or extra cars (up to four cars can race at once to keep you and your friends/kids happy). There’s sections of track available which give you banked turns or jumps and even collisions! There are also ‘Super Trucks‘ which you can add to your set which unlock extra game modes and look really cool but you could easily spend quite a bit of money doing this.
The only things I can fault with the Anki Overdrive Starter Kit is that the racing is a little rudimentary. I found I could keep the car at full throttle throughout the track without any real problems. Although Ben managed to spin off the track any number of times so maybe I’m just a natural! I doubt it though. If you were a fan of the physical throttle on a Scalextric set then you won’t be impressed with the controls.
The kids really enjoyed the game and it was something I was happy to play with for more than an hour. So if you’re looking for a racing experience for the family/kids which feels more real than a mobile phone game then it might be worth a look see.
*We were sent the Anki Overdrive Starter Kit free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own. Post contains affiliate links.*