I was never a big fan of racing games as a young kid. Mario Kart was a favorite, but it was mostly because of the weapons; driving didn’t hold the same appeal as bashing someone with a shell. Naturally, anything with cars and without weapons was out of the question. Even now, years after I’ve gotten a license and vehicle of my own, I can’t put in the hours that Forza requires, but if you hand me the keys to a heavily armed death machine then I’m good to go
With that in mind, let’s look at Table Top Racing for the PlayStation Vita, a port of a tremendously popular iOS title. The cars are a little tiny to be considered “heavily armed death machines,” but it’s got that same Mario Kart feel. If you’ve ever played the old Micro Machines games for the NES or SNES, you’ve got an idea of what to expect here: tiny cars, tight arcade-style controls and giant everyday objects to race around. Your goal, generally speaking, is to rack up loads of coins through racing events and spend them on new cars and upgrades.
Of course, this is a port of an iOS title, so you’re able to just buy the coins with real money. You don’t really need to, though; while the fancier cars are a little pricey, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll make enough to buy them with time. There’s a slight money-sink in the form of upgrades you can add to your cars. Later events are basically impossible to complete without an upgraded vehicle, so you’re going to have to shell out some coins to pimp your ride. Fortunately, in a departure from the mobile game, upgrades aren’t terribly expensive.
As for the racing itself, it’s fairly standard fare. The vehicles are a pleasure to drive, with even the starter ice cream truck feeling fairly responsive and nimble. Later vehicles only up the ante; the most coin-costly option, the Venom, zooms around the tracks at insane speeds and can turn on a dime. Upgrading your car yields noticeable improvements in performance, adding a nice sense of progression to the game.
There’s a variety of different events, including standard race events, time trials and an odd game of tag. Your performance during an event determines how many coins (and XP, used to unlock special challenges) you’ll rack up afterwards, with more difficult events offering larger prizes. Several weapon pickups are also available in some events and are generally fairly satisfying to use. The star of the selection is the EMP, a radial shockwave that both disables enemy vehicles and destroys incoming missiles.
The generic but pleasant presentation and inoffensive difficulty help ensure that Table Top Racing is a decent choice for gamers with a hankering for some portable racing and without a DS or access to Mario Kart. The price, meanwhile, helps it stand out from its closest competitor, ModNation Racers. There’s no groundbreaking innovation here, but if you’re out to drive a few laps and shoot a few fireworks, you could do worse than Table Top Racing.