Publisher: Keen Games
Developer: Keen Games
In 2012, TNT Racers appeared on the WiiWare Shop, and while it was a virtually unknown game, it sold pretty well. Imagine the NES classic RC Pro Am, mixed with the fast combat action of Mario Kart, and you get an idea of what to expect here. Now this cute racer has made it's way to the Wii U eShop as TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition, and unfortunately suffered a few hits making the jump to the new platform. Read on.
TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition isn't your typical racing game, where you try to be first to cross the finish line. Instead, the main goal is to go faster than your opponents making them fall off screen. You have to use sharp driving skills and a variety of weapons to help you beat the other cars to be the last racer on the track. The other racers aren't pushovers, as they will use every trick in the book to knock you back. Scoring a first place spot gives you the most points in a round, and the racer with the most points at the end of the final round wins the race.
There are different modes that change up the way you score points after completing the first few tutorial races. Challenge Mode events start out easy, but really get difficult as you increase the difficulty. Battle Mode is the main "race" where you battle 3 other cars for first. Points Mode, is similar, but you have more opportunities to score points, like picking up coins or landing a direct hit on an opposing car. This mode also lets you come back as a ghost car if you are eliminated to mess with the other cars still in the race. Time Attack removes the other cars and leaves you alone on the track as you try to get the fastest time to the finish.
There are also some fun missions you can unlock, like dodging cones, or picking up a certain number of items. As you progress through all of the modes and challenges, you unlock new cars, and new difficulty settings for that little bit of replay value. Drift Mode unlocks after you complete a set number of races, and is virtually a nightmare to get through. You have to drift through tons of curves while the other racers continuously shoot at you. Needless to say I didn't last too long here. With a little help, I managed to complete enough of Drift mode to unlock TNT Formula mode… and everything moved so fast I wasn't sure if a race actually happened. TNT Formula mode is strictly for the hardcore as it moves way too fast for even above average players, it's serious business in an otherwise cute game.
Everything presented is done well, but it seems that the Wii U Version is lacking when compared to the older WiiWare version. First off there is No online play on the Wii U, and this is a game that definitely needs it. Playing with friends is fine for a short while, but since you aren't really racing to a finish line and just knocking opponents out, it tends to get stale. The whole game feels more like a Mario Party mini game especially when playing alone. The added cars you can unlock in the Wii U version are okay, but they do not play much different from each other, and the added courses look a tad rushed and unpolished. I do like the added difficulty settings, even though I wasn't very good at them, but I did find myself wanting to switch to a more traditional racing game after only an hour or so.
Graphics wise, everything from the cars to the trees has a plastic look, almost like you are playing with a living Micro Machines play set. You race from a zoomed out overhead view the entire time, but there is no slowdown or clipping even when the speed ramps up to nitro speeds in the later levels. Even playing in Off TV mode on the Wii U GamePad was fast and fluid. Some of the car models don't look very polished when zoomed in, but since everything is shown from an aerial view for the majority of play, it doesn't matter much. Music is a cute mix of peppy jazz tunes and classic cartoon soundtracks that fits in well with the toy like world you are racing in. Overall, everything looks and sounds great, but it's not going to blow you away.
In the end, TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition is a neat little racer that is fun for a quick session, but it's not something you will spend long hours playing. The amount of tracks and unlockable cars is robust, but the lack of an online Mode hurts things. The modes that are included are fun for a while, but you won't be replaying them too many times. At $7.99, it might be a little pricey for some, but it is actually more reasonable that some other games currently on the eShop.
If you want a quick, fun little racer that everyone can pick up and play, then this is for you. On the other hand, if you want a game that will hold your attention for a long period of time then you may want to check out other, more traditional, racing titles. It's not bad, but it's not for everyone.