One of my earliest memories is that of driving toy cars across my mother’s furniture in a perilous race to the death against my brother.
Playrise Digital’s Table Top Racing on the PS Vita sets out to recapture those innocent times when a kitchen table could very well be the domestic equivalent of the Indianapolis Speedway.
It’s an arcade racer with little cars racing along circuits similar to the makeshift tracks you probably made when you were a kid. The eight included circuits will have you hooning around power-tools on a garage bench top, across the barbeque and around the toy table.
I started my miniature racing career with a choice between an ice cream van and a VW-style surfer’s camper van. These are just two of the 17 vehicles in the ranging from the aforementioned vans to crazy looking sports cars.
I jumped straight into the Twin Cam Challenge- the first of three progressively unlockable championships. Championships feature a series of events picking from the game’s various race types.
Some of the events feature power-ups in the form of front-targeting missiles, bombs that take out the cars behind, EMP that slows opponents close to you and turbo boost.
Hop Lap is just you and the circuit. With no power-ups except for a sole turbo to boost you over the finish line, the aim of this mode is simply to get the best lap time.
Speed Trial events have challenge players to get the best time over a number of laps. The circuits are littered with turbo power-ups requiring the right strategy to keep the car at maximum speed without shooting right of the table.
Pure Race is just that. It’s you racing against a number of AI opponents with no power-ups.
Things start to get interesting with the Combat races. These races turn the circuit into a battleground with bombs missiles and EMPs shaking things up.
The Pursuit events are one-on-one challenges giving players a fixed amount of time to catch up with the solitary car in front.
Lastly, there’s Elimination. This is an endurance-style race that eliminates the trailing car after each lap.
Whilst the tracks are pretty simplistic, I found my choice of van difficult to control at first. It seemed sluggish and difficult to corner with. I kept on getting caught on objects to the side of the track.
After a couple of races and a few upgrades, I had my little van drifting around those corners like a boss. The more events I raced in the more fun it became.
As well as the Championship events, there are also Drift Events, which require players to unlock a special car to enter, and vehicle specific Special Events. If you just want to pick your own race and get on with it, the Quick Race option allows you to select make your own event and get straight in.
For each event there are three awards, either based on race position or time. With each award you earn coins which can be used to upgrade or buy new vehicles. Coins can also be purchased from the PS Store, at about six bucks for a million.
You spend your coins in the garage. Unfortunately you can’t choose what to upgrade, the game picks the order for you. Your vehicle’s speed, grip, acceleration, armour and turbo can all be upgraded. You can also change wheels and select new paintjobs.
The game can be played multiplayer, either locally via Wi-Fi or, if you have an internet connection, online. Unfortunately, I never found an online game available to join and nobody joined any games that I hosted.
Table Top Racing is a nice game to look at, with crisp visuals and an interesting use of very well modelled household objects to create some great circuits.
Whilst it is fun to play, it is more of a tablet/mobile game than a Vita game. I find it a little cheeky that Vita owners have to shell out so much cash for a game that’s free in the Google store for my tablet. I’d find it difficult to recommend this game over, say Need for Speed: Most Wanted or Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Still, I enjoyed playing Table Top Racing and it brought back some nice memories of long nights playing Micro Machines on the PS1.