July 20, 2007 - Here at IGN PlayStation, we're not entirely sure why Q-Games decided to develop a slot car game for the PlayStation Store, but PixelJunk Racers is in the works, nonetheless. Whether or not slot cars are still a fantastic hit with modern youth is questionable at best, but we sat down with an early build of this game and came away with some impressions.
Slot cars. Yum.
PixelJunk Racers is a "slot car simulator," and that's probably the most accurate way you could describe this title. For those of you who are unfamiliar with slot cars, we're referring to the small toy cars that are guided along a plastic track and are controlled by a separate trigger that increases or decreases acceleration. Well, Q-Games has hit this minimalist control scheme right on the nail, since you only have two ways to control your car: squeezing R2 or L2 adjusts your car's speed, while right and left on the D-Pad switches your car from one track to another (you can't do that with real slot cars, but we don't mind).
The camera is positioned high above a small racetrack, and remains completely motionless for the entirety of the game. While there isn't much detail in the different tracks, that may very well change in the final version. Otherwise, you simply squeeze a trigger and watch your little car zip around the course in an attempt to satisfy particular conditions for particular tournament events. There is an impressive amount of variety in the types of races that you must participate in though, such as a game where you have to pass cars in order to increase your speed, until eventually your car is engulfed in fire and you can demolish your fellow racers. Clearly some imagination has been put into the challenge creation, but everything else, at this point, feels bland.
Other possible problems have revealed themselves during our first hour or two with the game. Although the acceleration trigger feels very responsive, it's almost impossible to move from a congested track to a clear one at high speed. Whether this is a problem with camera distance or too many pace cars on the track, we hope these issues will be addressed when Q-Games finishes the title.
Imagine driving on this for real.
So far as modes are concerned, there are Quick Race, Tournament and Score Attack. We also gave the multiplayer element a spin, and played a few of the Tournament challenges with two players. At this point in time, there are no differences between the single player and multi-player games other than adding another car onto the track. An online component might be interesting, though there's only so much you can do with slot cars.
PixelJunk Racers needs some polish, but may end up being an enjoyable title, if it's priced right. From what we could tell though, this game is currently way too challenging for "casual gamers," which is Q-Games' target audience. If they smooth out the edges and tone down the difficulty, the PlayStation Store may have another fun pick-up-and-play title to put on display. We'll get back to you soon with a review.