Little Racers Street is an overhead racing game that still manages to be fun even if it has its own physics that let you turn or stop on a dime even in the most ridiculously fast cars. Its a game that’s easy to play and tough to master the later courses thanks to the most 90 degree turns I’ve ever seen in a racer. This is street racing after all and most cities are built in a grid. On top of that you have a career mode that lets you buy cars and tweak them to your liking. If you upgrade them too much they will leave their class where the races face tougher competition..
While this is an overhead racing game, there are several different camera angles to chose from. The default isometric camera is problematic, because as a street racer, there are buildings that will obscure your view. You have a setting to turn on a highlight that will show your silhouette, even when obscured, but the other cars still remain hidden and that’s something that matters. There’s a non isometric camera that falls into the same problems and an overhead chase camera that feels better than the other two.
I have a feeling that Little Racers street was trying to be a kin to the old isometric racers like RC Pro Am and Heavy Metal Racing. Its more than the view, its the way the physics of the game. You still need to slow down in order to make a turn without bashing into something, but the turning is always sharp. I think that’s what might scare people away. You’ll need it though, because there can be a brutal number of hairpin turns back to back.
The sharp turns are evidenced in the game’s best camera view of all is the one that betrays its gimmick in general and that’s the chase cam. Your typical camera that follows the back of your car is by far the best way to play the game. Its just a great view that makes the game feel more like a modern racer. All of these camera angles can be changed on the fly when you realize how bad they are.
The game controls as you might expect a racer to play and it controls well on a 360 controller even if the game says the nitro is the X button when its really the B button. The nitro feels weak and sounds weak, as if its a pneumatic arm from a carnival ride. Its slow to start and takes a while to reach its maximum velocity, so your best bet is to wait until your gauge is filled all the way.
There are several different modes to chose from. Quick race that just drops you into a random vehicle in a random race. Free play lets you drive around either of the two cities. Time trials let you test your time against the world with online leader boards that rank you. There are even daily challenges, that are still being generated to this day. You can even play previous ones up to a week ago.
The meat of the game is the campaign, which is where you’ll be earning the money to buy cars. If you bump into walls or other cars you’ll damage your car and that will affect your vehicle’s performance, but more than that, it will cost you money after the race to have it repaired. Its a nice trade off and I was never able to fall into negative numbers. Its amazing how I can just about destroy my car, come in last place and repair it for a few hundred dollars, but if I were to come in first place, it would cost a few thousand. In other words, the game is lenient.
From the look of it, the racers are about half the size they should be and this can be beneficial in races against eleven other drivers, you can still make your way past all of them at once. The barricades are taller than your car and if you try to cut a corner by driving over grass, you slam into it like a wall. You can slam into a wall at top speed and your car will bounce backward and fly you over a lane or so. Yet when you slam into other cars, its like hitting them with a pillow, because they hardly move. In a way its to cut out the dirty tactics, but in another its an overlooked part of racing.
While the racers themselves might be little, the game itself relies on quantity over quality. There are an overwhelming fifty-five tracks in the game… oh wait, what’s that? That’s only the E class that has fifty-five courses? Oh my mistake. There are over three hundred tracks set in two small cities. Several of the courses feel similar and you’ll be racing in the same areas over and over again, but since these courses are so disposable, you’re never on them for long. Some courses last a minute, others can last three, it all depends on the amount of laps.
The courses are flat for the most part with a road ripple here or there and a drive up a curvy mountain. Its just another reason to have more hairpin turns rather than 90 degree angles. There are a few jumps, but nothing spectacular. Even diving off of a highway to the street below seems lackluster.
While using the chase camera, you get a chance to see the environment. It looks good from this angle. There are plenty of neon lights, but nothing that will overwhelm a person. The streets also shine as if they’re made of polished marble and not asphalt. The pavement has arrows painted on them to ensure you’re going the correct direction. That can be turned off, but there are a few races with a crossroad in the center. Some crossroads are obvious, others turn one direction or the other when you cross. So imagine a T combine with a Y.
Each class has several different vehicles to purchase, each looks different and great. They all have some sort of character even if they’re reasonable facsimiles you’d find in the real world. You’ll find more than cars, there are hippy vans, old rustic trucks, street racers, muscle cars and even beetles.
There are four different types of vehicles all geared toward the four stats which are power, turning, grip and nitro. The power consists of acceleration and top speed, but I wish they were different stats rather than combine as one. The nitro determines how fast your nitro gauge refills. Vehicles also can also have four-wheel drive or rear wheel drive as well. Its a rich amount of variety.
Each course has a class restriction that limits you to race with cars of that class. This prevents you from being grossly overpowered. With that said, it does feel like I can purchase a D class vehicle, upgrade it almost to a C class and win more D class races races than I lose. The game will warn you if a vehicle is about to surpass its class. The C class races and beyond get much more challenging. There’s a lot of human imperfection on my part that the computer benefits from.
To diversify the races, there are day, dawn, dusk and night races coupled with environmental effects like snow and rain. These races are beneficial for four wheel drive vehicles, just as a lot of 90 degree turns are better for turning and grip.
In terms of customization, you can select your vehicle’s design and its color. It really makes the vehicle feel like your own. With all of this customization, you can purchase the same vehicle again and again to customize them differently. There’s are two precise color sliders and dozens of designs.
Why do color and design matter? Well the game has online multiplayer. Well dead online multiplayer, but if it was still a happening place to be, your car would look different than anyone else’s. Even in the single player mode, each computer controlled vehicle looks different.
Little Racers Street is a game with character and its own style. It walks a fine line between so bad that its good and so charming that its fun. Its a budget title and I imagine only a select few will look beyond its flaws and find a fun game. A great game? No, but still a fun, enjoyable game.