By Eric Pankoke on Fri, 03/25/2011
There have been a number of top down racers available for iOS devices since the inception of the App Store, and one that I’ve particularly enjoyed came out about a year ago. It’s called Lil’ Racerz Pro Rally, and despite its age it has held up rather well. It might not be as fancy as the likes of Reckless Racing, but it offers lots of tracks, 10 different cars to unlock and upgrade, and some sweet “modern retro” graphics and sound. If you're a top down racing fan this would certainly be a fitting addition to your collection.
Like any good top down racer you start with the weak car on the basic tracks. As you beat tracks you’ll unlock new ones, and once you’ve completed all the tracks in a circuit you’ll unlock a new circuit. Along the way you’ll collect money littered on the track as well as prizes for actually placing in the top 3. You can use that money to adjust four areas of your vehicle: Grip, Acceleration, Speed and Steering. Each of these have a maximum upgrade level for a given car, and once you get a new car you’ll have to start all over again. The nice thing is that even if you don’t win a race you can keep any money you’ve collected, so you can either come by your upgrades honestly or just keep racing the same tracks over and over again.
Unlike a lot of racing games, upgrades and varied terrains actually mean something in Lil’ Racerz. Driving on dirt or snow actually responds differently, and your car handles better (for the most part) as you upgrade in the different areas. It actually makes it worthwhile trying to earn money and unlock better cars. On the other hand, one thing that is like so many other racing games is the fact that you are apparently the only bad driver on the course. I’m not saying it’s impossible to win, as I’ve managed to squeak a first place out of most of the races I’ve run so far. However, if you get more than a quarter of a lap behind don’t expect to catch up to anyone.
The control is pretty simple. Everything is driven by on screen buttons. You have arrows to turn left and right, pedals to accelerate and to move in reverse, and a slider to ignite a boost for some temporary extra speed. You have a limited number of boosters, but you can pick up more along the track. The controls are really responsive, though sometimes the arrows feel a little bit too reactionary. I don’t know if this is because they really are or because my car just isn’t upgraded enough, but it gets frustrating sometimes when one little slip up costs me a race. I do get tired of racing the same tracks over and over because I can’t get third place or better.
I really like the visuals in Lil Racerz. It’s a nice combination of 2D and 3D, though the perspective makes it look mostly like good old fashioned pixel art. The tracks are littered with details, whether it’s boulders in the desert or tractors in farm land. As the cars skid they leave marks, and when they kick up dust there’s a nice trail behind them. The best part, however, is watching the poor crowds scatter as you barrel head on into them, and seeing the resulting stains as you get one or two before they can flee. Sorry, I know that’s disturbing, but I find it amusing anyway.
The sound effects are fine, but they’re pretty standard racing fare. The bulk of the sound comes from loud engines and tires squealing as you skid, though there are the typical bumps when you hit another car and cha-ching as you roll over money. Sadly, there are no screams from the aforementioned innocent bystanders. Or if there are, at least, you can’t hear them over all the other noise. The music is well done. I don’t know if there is just a mix of tracks that are randomly played or if there is one track per cup, but so far all the tunes have been decent.
Lil Racerz is a solid top down racing game. There are plenty of tracks to race and multiple cars to unlock. The graphics are nice, the music is good, and you can run over the bystanders. The only thing really missing from this party is a nice assortment of weaponry. But, I suppose it’s not necessary for every racing game to have weapons… or is it…
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link