Of all the types of racing games the kart racers are probably my least favourite. Usually they don’t have the best driving mechanics and the inclusion of power-ups that diverts the focus on the racing portion doesn’t really appeal to me. I bet it doesn’t help that back when I was growing up this sub-genre was all the rage which made it spawn dozens of shovelware titles (some of them I was unlucky to experience) and maybe that stained this genre forever in my subconscious.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a kart racing type of game when it’s good. I still played Crash Team Racing like all the playstation kids out there. This just meant that I’m usually more picky with games in this genre than most other casual racing fans.
Now that you know where I come from, let’s have a look at Table top racing for the psvita.
Like my little introductory rant suggests, table top racing is a kart racing type of game. Maybe not in the most strict definition though, because you’re not actually racing any karts but miniature rc cars instead. That being said, the tropes for the archetypical kart racing game are here. The super arcadey physics, the power-ups, the light tone and colorful aesthetic…
Those little toy cars have their races on top of different kinds of messy tables that make up for the circuits and thus the name of the game. Think of those older micro machines games but instead of a top down perspective you control the cars from behind.
At the start of the game you’ll only have a couple vehicles to choose from but you eventually unlock a decent amount as you normally progress through it or purchasing them. These are supposed to resemble real life cars even if they’re kinda deformed to give them that “toy” look.
The vehicles you’ll be controlling are quite varied, you’ll have pick ups and vans racing next to muscle cars and supercars but their whole behaviour completely depends on their randomly determined stats. Those stats can be upgraded using in game currency to make their performance improve exponentially so you can easily win the game’s skyline with an ice cream van if you upgrade it enough.
This game is defined by its circuits. It’s the part that gives table top racing its identity so I was a little dissapointed to see that they never fully exploit them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the tracks on display but they’re as vanilla as they can get.
The layout is obviously different from each other and every track has a different theme going on but that only changes the stuff piling at the sides of the road. Sometimes it’ll be mechanic stuff, others it’ll be food but there isn’t anything to really make them stand out in any way.
They’re not completely dull or anything but being the table top thing your gimmick, I felt like the developers should have gone further with the idea and throw in some crazy stuff so that every track would feel more unique.
The game has several modes apart from the classic race with weapons Mario Kart style. There’s also races without any power-ups, two kinds of time trials, elimination race mode and a kind of chase mode where you have to catch onto a rival and crash against it as fast as you can.
I’m happy to say that all of the modes are pretty fun on their own and it gives the main game a good variety. Usually in games like these when you get into a mode without weapons it results on the gameplay feeling lacking because the driving of the cars isn’t engaging enough to support the rest of the game but gladly I didn’t have that sensation when playing through table top racing’s other modes.
Graphics wise this may not be the most impressive vita game but it still looks good and the most important part is that it runs buttery smooth so the experience is overall really nice.
The music isn’t very memorable but it’s fitting enough so I can’t complain.
Things I liked
- Bang for your buck: The game’s content and overall quality is very good specially considering how cheap you can get this game
- Responsive: The vehicle handling is flawless with vita’s analogue sticks and the game runs great so that results in an excellent gaming experience which is easily the most important aspect on a game like this.
Things I didn’t
- Luck to win: Not a strange flaw for some kart racers out there. On the most difficult challenges you’ll have to be lucky to win. Weapons are given randomly and they don’t have secondary modes to enable some strategy so if you only get defensive weapons when you’re on the last spot of the race you’re pretty much screwed.
- Samey tracks: The tracks on table top racing aren’t bad but they’re not remarkable either. I wish the developers would have got more crazy with their concept and throwed in some surprises to spice them up.
Who’d like this?
Any kart racing fans should get this little game. It may not be the best on the genre but for the asking price you can’t really do any better.
Also recommended for the micro machines nostalgics if they’re fine with the different scheme.