What I played this week - Paper Racer and Jet Car Stunts!

What I played this week?...hmmm. Well, I am really stuck in a loop with Jet Car Stunts, and will probably grab the level pack soon, as am tiring of the initial courses (still haven't completed all the time trials). I played a mucho cool new game this week called Paper Racer. For some reason, it makes me think of my old slot car racing set. Read on for the review.

Don't know if you had slot car racers as a kid, but if not, you really missed out on a lot of fun. Even a small loop of track was enough to keep us occupied for hours. Paper Racer brings back the nostalgia of that experience (though want to be clear, it isn't slot car racing on iPhone), and adds a feature where you can use and share custom drawings for your car. It would be even cooler if like slot car racing, you could also build your own tracks, and race head-to-head. Well, one can wish for a coming upgrade..

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The game is only 43M in size, so should be able to snag it via wireless if you don't feel like syncing up to iTunes (via wired connection). I played it mainly on my iPad 1, but it is compatible with all iOS devices (running version 4.0). It hasn't crashed or caused any problems so far. Still, always a good idea to do a unit reset after adding new software.

The object is to run your paper car around the desktop obstacle course trying to stay on the track as much as possible, and ahead of your opponents (need to place in the top 3 to advance). The perspective is a 2-D overhead view, and a roughed out graph paper area is depicted as the background for the track. Normal desktop objects like pencils, blocks, spilled ink and erasers serve as obstacles. Later track levels include tools, nuts, screws, and I imagine even tougher track obstacle types await (once I reach those levels).

The physics are pretty realistic, though steering and control can be a trifle tough at first to master. The car is prone to sliding around in a direction once it gets going. There are 3 control schemes to choose from (left joypad, right joypad, and conventional steering and accel controls). I found that I preferred right control best, and I played much better when using my pointer finger. Higher level courses offer power ups like speed-boosts (note the flames shooting from the back of my car in the shot above).

The first few tracks are the typical startup shapes (a loop, etc.), and get progressively more complex from there. Neat little design aspects in the game shine. For example, if you get off the track and onto what looks like dirt (dirt on a desktop?), the car starts throwing up a cloud when accelerating, which is kind of cool. Erasers bounce off your car as you speed through the course! The backing music is thrashing alternative rock (you can turn this off, if not your cup of tea), which can be a bit monotonous, since it seems the only track to get played--I do love the guitar riff in there at the end, though. If you are artsy, you can easily draw your own car, snap it with your iPod or iPhone, and import into the game. You can even share your car designs easily via social networking sites (using a barcode).

Paper Racer is a ton of fun to play, and I really enjoy it. It may threaten to know Jet Car Stunts off it's perch as my current fav.. I think PR could be enhanced with some additional cool features: A head-to-head mode maybe, as well as some car upgrades (tires, engine, etc). Currently in the game, after each race, your reward for placing is a new track shape (and eventual graduation to harder track levels). Offensive and defensive weapons might be another cool enhancement and reward (though, maybe I haven't achieved that level yet). Either way, a well-done game, and one I recommend for a toy racing challenge, but now I am going to have to find a true slot car racing game for iPhone (preferably one in 3-D that let's you build your own tracks...hmmm, maybe SlotZ Racer). Grab Paper Racer for just 99 cents here in the meantime... It's well worth it!

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Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.tumblr.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.