Like many people, I had not seen the fantastic Disney Pixar movie Cars until it was shown on TV at christmas. As a family, we really enjoyed the movie, and my kids really liked the characters in the film. Therefore, when we noticed this DS game, based on the movie, for sale on Amazon, I thought that it looked like a high quality game that the whole family would enjoy. A big reason that I purchsed the game was the great write up that it received on the site:
"Story-based racing adventure game that will relive all of the key moments of the movie
More than 10 playable characters from the film
Open world environment with more than 50 races
Authentic voice talent from the movie "
After reading this description, this was definitely a game that I liked the look of, so I bought it for £20 from Amazon. However, the game I got was completely different to the one described!
The game itself
Rather than being a racing adventure game, as advertised, Cars for the DS is merely a selection of rather mediocre minigames. There is no adventure mode or story mode on this game at all. The game starts with lively rock music and the menu screen is actually a parking lot, which at the beginning allows you to select from three initial minigames, represented by different cars parked in the lot. As you complete these minigames, more games are unlocked and more car characters fill the parking lot, which can be selected by using the stylus. There is also an additional minigame of the Piston Cup, that you can play.
I will now describe each of the minigames and my experience of playing them:
This is one of the three initial minigames that you can acess straight away without having to unlock. You play as a minor character called "Snot Rod", who is being chased along the interstate by the Sherrif, who is, of course, a police car. The road that you are driving on has four lanes, and you toggle between the lanes using your stylus to tap the screen where you want to go. In the road there are various obstacles, such as other cars, cones and trucks, as well as other racing cars that come up suddently behind you. The game is quite fun to begin with, but the road seems to be neverending, and the levels are very long. Initially, there are only three levels, but when you complete these, there are a total of ten levels to play, which get more dificult. I have managed to get to level four, but then it gets really hard and there are too many obstacles to crash into. My 10 year old son can get to the same point as me, but my younger kids struggle with the speed and difficulty of this game. Snot Rod also sneezes occasionaly, speeding up the game drastically and making it very hard to avoid things.
Luigi's Casa Della Tires:
This game has to be unlocked so that you can play it. You play the part of Guido, who has to stack tires outside the shop. You throw up a tire by performing an upward sweeping action with the stylus to flip a tyre up and try to time it so that it lands on the top of the pile. The game is fun at first, but gets very repetitive indeed. Each level creates a higher stack of tyres, which is more difficult to add more tyres to.I actually got bored of this and quit after about 5 levels, as it got really tedious. Again, this is a game that very young kids would struggle with, as your timing has to be spot on.
Hydraulic Jump Jam:
This is an easier game for kids. Ramone is a car that can jump, and you need to tap him with the stylus to get him to bounce as he lands. To complete a level, you need to reach a certain height before you can move on. Again, it gets a bit tedious, but it is perfect for younger ones to play, as most people will manage the tapping action easily.
In this unlockable minigame, you need to use a sweeping action of the stylus to cast the hook out to the river and try to latch on to pieces of rubbish floating along. Once you have hooked something, you have to carefully wind the rubbish to the shore, but if you knock it into another piece it will float away. To progress up the levels, you need to get a certain total of pieces. This game is quite enjoyable, and not too difficult, although the full 10 level version gets very repetitive, and had me quitting from boredom at about level 6.
This is one of the three initial games available. In this game, the cars line up at the petrol station waiting to be served. To fill them up you rub them up and down(!) with the stylus. As you progress through the levels, the cars come faster and faster, and if you don't attend to them quickly enough, they will get angry and leave. I found this game really hard, as the cars pulled up too quickly, and there were too many of them to serve at once. I only got to level 2! My kids really struggle with this one.
Mack the truck gets sleepy in this unlockable game, and is dropping trophies all over the road. You have to catch the trophies with the syllus and drag them to the right coloured bins. I really enjoyed this game, and completed all 10 levels without getting bored and giving up. There was anough variety in gameplay to keep me interested.
This is a backwards race against Mater the tow truck. Again. it features the same vertical scrolling style of the other race levels, and is quite easy to complete. You use the control pad instead of the stylus to steer, so it is slighly more intuitive, and a bit easier for kids to play than some of the other levels.
An unlockable memory game, which requires you to repeat certain beat patterns after the DJ. It is quite tricky to play, and reminded me a bit of that old 80's "Simon" game. If you complete enough levels, you can unlock a freestyle mode, which allows you to use the drums and scratches to jam along to the music however you want, which again, is nice and simple for kids.
That Blinkin' Light:
This is virtually identical to the previous game, and is available from the start. You have to touch lights with your stylus to repeat the sequence that you heard. This is really hard for kids, when it starts to sequence beyond 5 colours, and can get very tedious.
The Drive In:
I actually love this game, as it reminded me of the room escape games in Proffessor Layton. You have to slide cars around to manoevre your car out of the parking lot. I managed all 10 levels of this without getting bored, and this is one I could play for ages, although my kids don't like this one at all.
Remeber that funny scene from the movie when they are trying to tip the tractors in the field? This unlockable game recreates it. This is, in my opinion, the hardest of the mingames, as there is a Bulldozer chasing you, and it is pretty impossibl;e to get past level 1!
Best Backwards Driver:
This minigame is a bit like the old "hypersports" games we used to play, which required you to tap away alternately as fast as you could to build up speed. In this game you franticallt tap the touchscrren so that Mater can go fast enough to reach the moon. Fun, but again a bit tedious after 5 minutes play!
There are 4 pison cup races in total. The gameplay again consists of a very dull vertical scrolling racetrack, requiring you only to move left and right (yawn). Occasionaly, you have a pit stop, which requires you to tap the wheel nuts as quickly as you can to change the tyre.
The multiplayer provision is very poor. Firstly, because only piston cup is available, and secondly, because both players need their own version of the game in their DS in order to play. As we only have one copy, we cannot access multiplayer, which I am very miffed about, as we have other racing games, like Mario Kart, which only require one gamecard between two or more players.
As you can see from my description of the game, this game bears little resemblance to Amazon's claims, and I think they may be decribing a completely different game, as they claim that the game has 50 tracks and contains voice talent from the movie, including Owen Wilson. This simply is not true, and the game contains no verbal dialogue at all. All dialogue has to be read off the screen. All three of my kids are disappointed with the game, as they said it was not what they expected, and I would have expected better from a game that associates itself with Pixar and Disney, which are usually synonymous with high quality products. To me, this looks like a quickly cobbled together game, with unimpressive graphics, considering it is from Pixar, mediocre music, and very tedious, repetitive gameplay, which does not give you the incentive to play for long.
From the look of the game, I would have thought it was aimed at kids between 4 and 9 years old, but many of the games are much too difficult and fiddly for young kids to play. They are also very bring, offering no reward when you do complete them apart from displaying the words "You Win" after you have trawled through 10 very similar, repetitive levels of each minigame.
Part of my problem with this game, was the way that it was advertised on Amazon, making claims, which were blatantly false. To be honest though, I would have still bought it if it had been described as a minigame collection, but have expected much better games for my money. This game is currently retailing for £38 on Amazon, which I find very expensive for what it is. It is, in my opinion only worth about £12.
Many people will buy this game expecting a racing game, but the only racing in this game is very simple vertical scrolling, which is tedious and not at all exciting. My kids rarely play this game, and when they do, it is only for about 10 minutes, which is unusual for them as they are usually glued to games for the DS. Cars for the DS has failed to recognise it's target market, and the resulting game is a poor minigame collection with limited longevity.