So, first off, I'd like to mention that this is a review in progress. VR Game Rankings likes to take our sweet time playing games, to make sure we give each game it's proper due. This often means we'll be a bit later than most with our review scores, but we're looking at things with a more long term perspective. So, what are my first impressions of Tiny Trax? Well, I can tell you that this might be the most colorful game I've ever played in my life. Seriously, color is absolutely bursting off the screen, everywhere you look. So many games go for a more realistic look, with realistic color tones, and you just don't see the blue skies and the green grass like you did back in the good ole days. Certainly, Nintendo and a few other companies still make games like this, but let's just say it's a sight for sore eyes. I love to have my senses completely assaulted with visual pizazz.
I guess I should probably explain what kind of a game Tiny Trax is. This is a racing game, but instead of giving you a first person cockpit view of your racer, you're actually able to look at the entire track from a God like perspective.
Kids from the 70's and 80's are very familiar with this style. It's basically slot racers. I can certainly remember back to the days when my Dad would help me assemble the racing track, and then we would spend all afternoon pretending we had the Indy 500 sprawled across our living room floor. This is basically the same idea, except the tracks that you're racing around in Tiny Trax take full advantage of the fact that anything is possible with VR. The imagination and creativity that FuturLab has put on display with these fantastical courses is immediately apparent. You only have to try two or three tracks to realize that there is something very special going on with this game, both from a visual standpoint, as well as a set-piece standpoint. Most of these tracks have a very distinct personality, and a big part of enjoying this game, is trying them all, and getting to know them well.
Anyone who plays Tiny Trax will have to come to terms with the controls of the game. Maybe some of you will get the hang of it without much issue. Unfortunately, for me, I'm still struggling with the controls. The key mechanic of the game, is properly handling the corners and adding to your boost meter. You hit the R2 trigger for normal acceleration, but that won't get you very far. The other cars will pass you like you're standing still. You need to constantly use your boost if you want to keep pace with the rest of the pack. The problem is, your boost runs out rather quickly, and you have to replenish it. This is done by steering into the corners in a certain way. If you steer into the corner in the right kind of way, you can replenish your boost meter. This is where I'm running into trouble. I'm paying so much attention to my boost meter that I end up over-steering and my racer practically stops dead in it's tracks.
Another issue that I've been dealing with, is the fact that you really need to move your head and neck around, to get a good view of everything. There isn't any camera that is following the action. You physically have to turn your head to see the entirety of the track. Now, I'm sure FuturLab made this decision because it pretty much eliminates nausea. If they had a camera automatically following the action, or adjusting it's view every now and then, that would probably bother some people. This way, you're just using natural motion to look around the world. You're pretending that you have this fantastical racing track that kind of wraps all around you, and you will have to twist your neck at times to get a view of what the heck is going on, when your car enters a blindspot. I'm wondering if I play this game for an extended period of time, will I end up with a kink in my neck?
Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is a review in progress, and I'm going to continue playing the game to get a feel for everything. I will continue to check out all the amazing tracks that FuturLab has provided. Seeing each new track is like a special treat. They are so imaginative and colorful. I'll also continue to work on the controls, and see if I can finally come to grips with the turning / boost mechanic. One thing I can say, is that the $19.99 price tag of this game ($17.99 if you have plus), seems to be a very fair price. I've seen a bunch of amazing tracks already, so it seems like it's a pretty good value. I'll be sure to report back with a full review soon.