Hot Wheels: Track Attack teaches children a valuable lesson: that having fun gets you nowhere; it’s a methodical, cautious, mundane approach that yields results.
That’s especially true of about two-fifths of the game: the Checkpoint and Token Grab events, which tend to be unreasonably difficult to complete in any manner involving fun. In the former, checkpoints are so close together, and the game’s handling so twitchy, that you frequently can’t get from one to the next reliably at anything more than a crawl – and time isn’t so limited that you need to. Chug around at a snail’s pace and victory – but no real satisfaction – is yours. In the latter, it might be tempting to go for the exotic tokens in loop-the-loops and the like, but that takes too long; so you’re better off sticking to the ones close to the ground, and get the job done with as little enjoyment as possible.
The other events – Race, Hot Lap and Elimination – all require you to travel at speed. Which is definitely less tedious. On the better designed tracks – of which there are a couple – it’s even quite fun. There are some neat alternative routes, big creatures roaming the course – dinosaurs, robots, etc – and fast and fun set-pieces on special Hot Wheels orange track.
But some of what should be fun is actually unforgivably frustrating. Once you get speedier cars, jumps are best avoided – otherwise you starting hitting invisible walls around the edge of the track, and losing masses of time trying to regain control and speed on landing. In fact, the faster cars are barely compatible at all with some of the track designs.
What’s worse is that your computer controlled opponents cheat insufferably. Actually, it’s worse than cheating: the same laws of physics don’t apply to them. While you’re flying through the air, they drop straight down after a jump and speed off. On one later track where a jump cannot be avoided, this is beyond frustrating.
There are more retro glitches too: falling into white space outside the track, slow down. Oh, and one I don’t think I’ve seen before: shadows of cars on a section of track below being projected onto the section of track of above. Clever! The engine noise is awful, so it wasn’t much of a loss when it cut out midway through one race. Slick it is not.
One almost redeeming feature is the track builder. It’s pleasingly intuitive, and shoving a load of massive set-pieces down then blasting around your creation is reasonably diverting. Multiplayer is fine too.
A lot of the time, it’s a mediocre racing game from about 1998: reasonably playable, but utterly unsophisticated. It’s easy, apart from a few genuinely unfair moments, and not huge. A lot of this is probably to be expected from a budget Wii racing game. But you’d also expect it to be a lot more fun.