So rarely are top-down racers seen nowadays; even on the diverse selection that is the Xbox Live Arcade. Here we have Little Racers STREET; a street based racing game that was inspired by the first racing game the developer (MilkStone Studios) made, Little Racers. As indicated by the title, this game is a street racing game whose environments are concentrated in a city like atmosphere.
Little Racers STREET has you racing against anywhere from four to twelve small cars per race.Having the cars so small can sometimes be a problem, as it can be hard to determine which car is yours. One of the options when you purchase a car is painting it, which can make identifying your car from the rest of the flock a little easier.
There are 30 cars available to purchase in Little Racers STREET, and each one cost more depending on performance and class. Cars are classed from E-A, with E being cars with less performance and A being the best performing cars. The rank of the car that you buy will determine which races you can participate in, as races are also classed.
The main playing mode is the Career mode which allows you to buy a car (or a few) and work your way up through the classes. When buying your first car, it will be class E and therefore you will only be able to play on class E races. It gives you a few different races to choose from; all with different track layouts, weather effects, and time of day. I found myself just choosing the race with the highest monetary payout, but any of the races will suffice. There did not seem to be a set amount of races that you could complete, and after completing one it seemed like they kept being randomly generated. They are numbered from one to five depending on class, but other than that there was no telling them apart from the previous set of races in that class.
What did seem to stand out were the challenges; which are shown to you at the end of a race when you make progress in a challenge. They are also accessible from the main menu. Most of the challenges are simple; such as completing any race, but you have to complete over 200 races to complete that challenge. Others are more difficult, like placing first in specific classes a certain amount of times or completing a race first with a certain car. Completing challenges will earn you a jackpot worth of credits to buy cars/upgrades or earn you cars. That’s right, in lieu of having to buy certain cars you can earn them as well through completing some of the challenges..
Since there are 30 cars to choose from, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your car to get a better one. You could simply buy it after accruing enough credits, but the choice is left up to you. Upgrading your car can be done up to a certain point for each car, so buying a high classed car is going to be necessary eventually. Power, handling, and so on can be upgraded; but you have to be careful because after a certain amount of upgrades your car will move into the next class. This becomes a problem when you want to complete all of the challenges, but luckily you can downgrade your car at any time.
Visually, Little Racers STREET is very simply designed which is ideal for a simple racing game as this. Weather and time of day are accurately portrayed in game, not only just for looks, but in the effect that it will have on your performance. Racing in the rain or snow will make it harder to maneuver the track as fast as you would in fair weather. Racing during the night will make it harder for you to tell your car from the others, as each car has very bright headlights that obscure the cars a little bit. Also, it’s tough to see obstacles as night.
The controls were pretty simple and straight forward, with the right trigger being forward acceleration and the left trigger being brake/reverse. You also have a hand brake, which can be used to drift. The left stick controls the direction in which your car is going. I didn’t find myself using the hand brake that often, as it was easier to make sharp turns by simply laying off the gas and then speeding up after coming out of the turn. Also useful for tough turns and generally going faster is the nitro. Depending on your car’s performance the nitro will last longer, but it recharges over time in any case. There is a dial at the bottom of your screen to tell you what your level of nitro is, but in order for me not to crash into a wall I could not look at it.
While upgrades and general understanding of the controls will allow you to easily beat the competition, crashing into walls will not help you. Damage to your car will affect how it performs throughout the race. There were a lot of times where I did very well in races, but crashed a whole lot. There was a slightly noticeable difference when I did not damage my car as much, but not demolishing my car in a race was a rarity. The damage you incur during a race will also affect your winnings received; as repair charges are appropriately taken out of your winnings.
There used to be an embeded media player here, but it doesn't work anymore. We blame the Tumbeasts.
The only other mode in Little Racers STREET is Quick Race, which is like the career mode races but you don’t choose anything. What would have been very ideal would have been an online mode, or even leader board so you could race against friends or see how you do against them. Without an online mode, the game’s replay ability is a little diminished.
Although the game would take quite a long time to complete (as in the challenges), Little Racers STREET is best played in moderation; as the races can feel a little repetitive at time. On the other hand, I was hooked for a little over two and a half hours straight each time I played before getting bored. It’s a great indie racing game and well worth its price.
[Images and video via MilkStone Studios]