Toy Racer Preview

French developer No Cliché jumps on the network bandwagon with Toy Racer, an online-only Dreamcast multiplayer racing game.

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Toy Racer is based on No Cliché's first Dreamcast game, Toy Commander, where you played as various toys in an indoor environment. While Toy Commander wasn't exactly regarded as a blockbuster title, it still featured a fairly compelling online element. It's that element that No Cliché hopes to isolate with Toy Racer, an online-only multiplayer game.

Toy Racer offers no real single-player or offline game modes, except for a small training mode. Once you get online, you choose your vehicle and then race on any of the game's tracks. The game features several different types of toy vehicles, from tanks and trucks to jeeps and sports cars. Each track is themed and represents a certain gameplay style or atmosphere. All the tracks take place indoors, in a real-life house, so you'll find yourself racing on dinner tables, up and down walls, and even on the ceiling. The game features a series of checkpoints that extend your time limit as you pass through them. There are tons of power-ups in the game, from turbo boosts to teleporters. More interesting power-ups like hurricanes and spike strips help shake up the gameplay.

The online-only aspect of the game certainly makes for lacking single-player gameplay. While playing against other people over the Internet is sure to be fun, being denied the ability to play by yourself will definitely scare some gamers away. No Cliché hasn't announced any details on exactly how the online mode will work.

The graphics aren't in any way special, and they look a little dated. The game runs on what looks like a barely modified Toy Commander engine, and it features no real upgrades to the graphics of the last game. Some of the tracks are plagued by a good amount of slowdown, even when there isn't a whole lot of action onscreen. Hopefully No Cliché will spend some time refining the graphics before the game ships. The control is extremely simple, and it uses the analog buttons to accelerate and brake. The face buttons are used to switch camera angles, look behind you, and use gadgets and boosts.

With dated graphics, online-only play, and no real innovation, Toy Racer might be a little out of its league. Still, a very economical price and the draw of online play may motivate fans of the first game to pick up this one. It should be noted, though, that No Cliché hasn't announced an official release date, so the game may change dramatically before it ships.

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