There’s a lot of what Tiny Trax reminds me of. Like the time I was a young thirteen year old on the cusp of manhood and entered into a regional slot car racing tournament. You know those old battery powered cars controlled through remotes on a track? Yes, I remember it well. Standing there with my grandparents in a traditionally unused part of a church where the air was stale and the room was humid. Older men with eccentric hobbies and kids looking to have fun were competing with glee as the electric sound of cars on plastic tracks echoed throughout the oddly colored room. Ok, I can’t really continue this charade any longer. No I wasn’t a child prodigy of slot car racing, but I did enjoy the plastic toys the few times I actually got my hands on them. The fictional story was just an imaginative daydream inspired by 80’s movies. Where am I going with this you ask? Well, if you ever liked slot cars, or Hot Wheels for that matter, Tiny Trax was made specifically for you.
The entire game is set up and around the genre of a racer. You probably figured that out for yourself if I’m being honest. But the gameplay is essentially slot cars from a set point of view that allows you to see a whole track in its entirety. Kind of like the baby sun from Teletubbies. (No, you’re weird! Sorry, just figured someone would read that and call me weird.) From that position in the sky, you control a car and try to win races through a myriad of levels and tracks. There’s no plot or even an attempted one and the singleplayer boils down to cup and single races. In this regard it acts like a kart racer. So each “world” has four tracks and you have to do your best to win. The higher in place you finish, the more accumulated points you receive. At the end you’ll receive a trophy, unless you finished fourth, for the cup events.
The gameplay itself is pretty simple, but the A.I. is no slouch and you’ll find yourself playing levels over and over again. Now when I say simple, I mean there’s an accelerate button, change lanes button, a turn button, and a boost button for your DualShock 4. You’ll perform these actions on slot car tracks that have been placed and arranged in many different forms. Some maps will be more traditional with flat, “wheels on the ground” racing and others will have you driving up walls at a ninety degree angle, performing loop de loops, or even driving upside down. The maps and roads that make an appearance are a lot of fun. They spoke to me as an adult to what toy cars and my imagination did as a kid. Plus, the minor head movements you have to make in order to keep up with your car in some places added a nice touch of immersion.
As I mentioned the controls are pretty simple. Yet they are truly hard to master. The majority of winning a race stems from knowing when to use boost and the timing to acquire it. There’s a gauge above your selected car that details how much boost you have and another to dictate how fast or slow you go around turns. For the most part, you can turn at any degree and be fine rounding that corner unless you do it too hard. Nothing to complex there as that’s a standard for racing titles. However, you earn boost by, more or less, drifting around said turn perfectly. Again the gauge will show you this sweet spot but it’s not as easy as it looks. Racking up much needed boost requires precision, timing, and planning. Something that may not always be at the forefront of your mind when you’re trying to beat the three opponents. I lost count of how many races I lost because I didn’t have the much needed boost to sustain a lead or catch up. Unfortunately, the ability to bump into other cars is not present much like Trackmania Turbo. You’ll just go through your competitors.
Sadly, Tiny Trax suffers from the same problems a lot of other PlayStation VR titles succumb too: replayability. There’s a handful of wonderfully designed maps, but they’ll grow stale after a couple of hours. Especially when the magnificent A.I. continues to kick your ass. Sure there’s basic, online multiplayer functions (which I didn’t participate in because no other reviewers were on when I was) that may extend your playtime. Just don’t expect it to make up for more content. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay itself is a ton of fun. I loved the intense speed of each race and the racing challenges posed to me mid-lap. Nevertheless, Tiny Trax won’t be your go-to VR game for long. Other content to note is the ability to choose from a decent selection of car types and fewer color schemes. As far as I could tell none of them handled any different or had varying attributes.
Tiny Trax PS4/PSVR Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Tiny Trax was a blast for an hour. That’s how long it took me to play on all the circuits available. The gameplay was tight, the A.I. was slightly overpowered, and the positions for your all-encompassing view were a delight to experience. It’s just that there’s nothing more to do here when you finally earn all the gold, first place finishes and are lucky enough to find a multiplayer match. There’s no time trials or extra game modes or any other structured events at all. I found myself growing bored after my third session with the slot car racer. Luckily, during those short playtimes I experienced no motion sickness or discomfort at all. Still, if you are into racers of any kind, this may be for you regardless of length. If slot cars or toy cars were never your thing as a kid, then you probably want to give this one a pass.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.