Total Arcade Racing does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides top-down racing for up to 8 players locally for Switch and PC. It also gives you a few bonus extra modes to play with. The problem is that it doesn’t really grab you with character, charm or style and so it is a game that works best in short bursts of chaotic fun with friends. In short – don’t play alone.
Each of the 20-ish tracks in the game can be zoomed out to a single screen for you and your mates to drive around. Each race is 4 laps long and largely easy to beat AI can fill in any slots you want to be filled too. To unlock the tracks and cars you’ll need to slog through single player mode to get the faster cars that are more difficult to drive with because of their speed. They are too skiddy and fast for the small tracks so braking is absolutely required. Cars understeer in general throughout the game but if you hold onto the drift, the car quickly skids to a very slow speed. These skids are costly and often the key to winning or losing a race.
Once you’ve unlocked all the cars, you’ll likely end up just playing with the formula car. It’s the fastest and against others, nothing else can compete with it. Even on the two off-road tracks they still win! Single player is limited to championship races and time trial modes to collect stars and get your next unlocks. Time trial drops ghosts onto the track of your personal best and an online leaderboard runner which is nice. You’ll spend about half an hour unlocking everything so you can then play it in multiplayer mode.
Multiplayer is where this game shines best. AI refuse to take shortcuts and the tracks are so lenient with track limits at times, you can chop corners off at times. With friends, not only can they keep up with you but they are also aware of their surroundings. Some tracks have trains, oil slicks and barriers that move and so you can have extra fun racing around these obstacles with friends.
Outside of the standard 4 lap race there are a few other modes. Survival makes last place each lap blow up. Delivery pits you against others to collect a box and drop it in a coloured area to score points. There is a 2D rock league knockoff that reminds me of the game Videoball but without arena variants. There’s also an arena destruction derby mode and an ‘avoid the red car’ mode to stay alive the longest. These are all fun for about 10 minutes each but as they lack depth or variety, they get dull quickly.
This issue plagues Total Arcade Racing. The cheap graphics certainly don’t help although they remind me of the traffic carpets you get as a young child to drive toy cars on. There is a distinct lack of personality or charm throughout. It feels like an upgraded mobile game with basic menus, fonts, inane handling and nothing daring about it. As a result – it plays perfectly fine – but I don’t remember anything about the next day.
If you want an 8 player racing game – especially on Switch – then this is a good shout for some simple racing. If you want something meaty and with more going on then Ultimate Racing 2D should be a better option for you. I was hoping for something like Super Sprint with this game but instead I got Family Racer Kids Edition.
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