What's this, another quirky racing game for WiiWare? I'm sensing a theme here . . . and I like it!!

User Rating: 8 | TNT Racers WII
TNT Racers is a Nintendo WiiWare racing title with a very arcade-y, cartoonish vibe, and is a lot of fun. It features an overhead type of view, with the camera rotating to match the action on the track. The racing that ensues is more of a wacky type of free for all than it is any kind of serious racing . . . and that is this game's main strength!

When you start this game up press the 2 button and you'll be taken from the title screen to the profile screen, where you'll have to load a previous game save profile (or create a new one if it's your first time playing). Once that task is out of the way you'll be taken to the game's main menu, from which you have five choices. The first option is called "Single Player" and is where you'll spend virtually all of your time on this game. Single Player consists of three sub-options, the first of which is "Challenges", the main single player mode of the game. When you select Challenges there are three different types of racing classes you can compete in, including the Normal Challenges, Fast Challenges and Turbo Challenges. Each set of challenges consists of 15 events, and you must complete them in order. You complete events 1 through 15 on Normal, then move up to Fast, and finally up to Turbo. Once you've completed all 45 challenges you've beaten the game! As for the individual events themselves, there are a number of different types, the following handful of paragraphs will describe each of them (fyi, there are four competing vehicles on the screen at a time):

The "Knock-Out Mode" event tasks you with driving as fast as possible, as well as using any available pickups, to leave your opponents behind far enough that they drop out of the racing game screen. Once a car is eliminated in this fashion they are officially out of the race, but they come back as a ghost and can try and mess up the other racers still competing for the win. The last car on the screen receives 3 points, the second last 2 points, and the third last 1 point. The first person off the screen receives no points. The first racer to reach the pre-set points target for said event is the winner.

The "Score Mode" event is pretty straightforward, basically there is a pre-set points target and the first person to reach that target wins the race. Points in this type of event are gained not by knock-out, but by using your turbo function, pickups, destroying other racers, collecting coins, etc. This event has no time or lap limit, it goes on and on until the points target is reached, whether that takes 1 minute or 10 minutes.

In a "Lap Mode" event you are pretty much doing the same thing as in Score Mode. You must collect the most amount of points using the same methods, but there isn't a pre-set points target, there is a pre-set number of laps associated with this event. The racer who has the most amount of points when said number of laps are complete is the winner.

The final event type, "Time Mode", is exactly the same as Lap Mode, except instead of there being a pre-set lap limit there is a pre-set time limit. The racer who collects the most amount of points when time expires is the winner.

It is important to note that within these four different types of events there can be many variations due to the stipulations attached to each event as you work through the three racing classes. Sometimes there will only be certain types of pickups available, there will be no pickups available, you will only have a certain number of vehicles with which to complete an event, you can only earn points by using pickups, or you have to avoid objects like traffic cones and land mines. Although there are only four types of racing events it actually seems like there are more due to these stipulations.

After you choose which event you want to race in you have to select your vehicle, it's colour, and the control scheme you want to use. You are then literally off to the races! There are 6 total cars to choose from, 4 available from the start and 2 you have to unlock along the way. As for colours, there are 8 different selections, and for control schemes there are 3 different options you can pick from. As you make your way through the events of Challenges mode you will unlock the additional vehicles and race tracks in the game, on the path to completion. In terms of race tracks there are 6 in total, including Beach, Oasis, Lost City, Jungle, Ice Lake and Mountain. You can run these tracks in either the forward or reverse direction, so in essence there are 12 different track options available to you in this game.

The second sub-option under Single Player is "Time Trial", a mode where you simply try and set the fastest lap time possible at any given track. Once you select this mode you'll then pick the track you want to race at, as well as what class you want to compete in (this basically just sets the game speed, same as in Challenges mode). Then you choose your car/colour/control scheme before being taken to the event. Once competing in a Time Trial event (you compete solo) you just perform lap after lap until you feel you've raced enough, then just pause and quit, the game will save your progress.

The third and final sub-option under Single Player is "Custom Race". Here is where you go to compete in a normal TNT Racers style of race against 3 other opponents, but the races are just one-offs, they don't help you complete the game like they do in Challenges mode. Once you've selected Custom Race you then must pick which race track you want to compete at, the class you want to compete in, the race mode (Knock-Out, Score, Lap or Time modes), and finally your mode stipulation limit (Knock-Out points target, Score points target, Lap total, or Time total). Then simply select your car/colour/control scheme and away you go!

Getting back to the main menu the second option there is called "Multiplayer", which consists of two sub-options. The first one is the "Local Multiplayer" game mode, where you can play with up to 3 buddies locally in the traditional types of TNT Racers events. The second sub-option is "Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" and is the online multiplayer mode of the game. Select this and you can go online to compete against random strangers in either "Single Event" or "Tournament" races. In setting these events up you'll have to determine a few stipulations beforehand like class, players (anyone or just friends), number of races (for tournaments only), etc. Once these are set everyone picks their car/colour/control scheme and the madness begins!

Third on the main menu is the "Help & Options" option, consisting of four sub-options, the first of which is called "How to Play". Under this sub-option you'll find pages and pages of info you can scroll through that contain information on all the main aspects of gameplay for TNT Racers. The second sub-option is "Controls", where you can go to view the specifics of all three control schemes this game has to offer. Third is the "Settings" sub-option, where you can go to adjust the SFX and Music volumes as well as toggle the rumble feature on/off. The fourth and final sub-option is "Credits", where you go to simply view a list of all who helped create this title.

The fourth option from the main menu is called "Leaderboards". Here you can view lists of your top achievements (times and scores) in this game, track by track. There are various options you can toggle between such as viewing records for different classes of events (Norma/Fast/Turbo) or different modes (Challenges vs. Time Trial for example).

Finally, the fifth option from the main menu is "Download Content", which comes with two sub-options. The first sub-option is "Download Content", where you can go to download various extras for this game as they become available. I tried to have a look at it, just to see what was on there, but it told me there were no updates available . . . so I'm not sure exactly what to think about this feature. The second sub-option is "Remove Content", where you would go to simply remove any of the content you were able to download, if so desired.

Once you get in to the game itself there are many things you need to look out for, most notably the various pickups that will appear around the track during any given race. Most of these pickups take the form of weapons and include the Heavy Cargo (a weighted plunger you shoot to the back end of your opponents), Smoker (a smoke screen), Monster Car (increases your size momentarily and blasts away all opponents in your immediate vicinity), Speed Booster (an oversized motor helps blast you ahead of the competition), Candy Cannon (forward shooting cannon for straight up blasting), Confetti Mine (a rack of mines you can leave behind as treats for any opponents traveling in your wake), Space Rocket (a homing missile), Oil Gun (leaves an oil slick behind you), Speed Disruptor (a type of taser that sucks the energy out of your opponents), Earthquake (a giant hammer attached to your roof that you can lay the smackdown with), Twister (a tornado you can set free on your opponents) & Tesla Coil (a purple force filed that will also infect your opponents if they stray too close). These pickups all show up in the form of silver orbs with a question mark on them, so you don't know what pickup you're getting until you actually pick it up. There is also a health pickup to watch out for called the Repair Kit, resembling a red tool box. As the cars in this game deal damage to each other they can be destroyed, so picking up a Repair Kit when you start smoking is always a good idea. The last pickup you need to be aware of are coins, coming in the values of bronze, silver and gold. These coins offer you varying amounts of extra points, helping you stay ahead of the competition and reach your target score faster.

The game screen for TNT Racers isn't too involved. Along the whole left side of the screen is a long green bar, kind of looks like an upside down thermometer, with the target achievement for your current race posted at the top of it. As the race unfolds icons for each racer will fluctuate up and down this green bar based on real time performance, giving you a brief overview on just how the current race standings are looking. In the top right corner of the screen you'll see the clock timer, but only when you are competing in races that utilize the timer specification. In the lower right corner of the screen you'll find the lap counter, but only when you are competing in races that utilize the lap specification. Also in the bottom right you'll find the counter for traffic cones/mines hit, and for cars remaining, but only when you are competing in races where you must avoid hitting those objects or have only a certain number of vehicles to complete a race.

The controls for this game are quite simple, very similar to the scheme in MotoHeroz. Here I'll be going over the default controls, which I prefer. To utilize this scheme turn the Wii Remote on it's side so that your right thumb rests over the 1 and 2 buttons, and your left thumb rests over the control pad (opposite if you are a lefty, I would suppose). To steer your vehicle you use all ranges of motion on the control pad. To accelerate press the 2 button, and to decelerate/brake, press the 1 button. The 1 button can also be pressed to utilize an equipped pickup, as can the B button. To drop an undesirable pickup press the A button. And finally, to pause the game press the + button. Pretty simple!

As for the pause menu, from here you have five options, the first of which is "Resume Game" . . . pretty obvious. The second option is "Restart", which you select to try over if your race isn't quite going the way you imagined it would. Third is the "Help & Options" option, which is the exact same as from the main menu of the game. Fourth is the "Leaderboards" option, again just the same as it from the main menu. And the final option is "Exit Game", where you go to quit your game without saving.

TNT Racers' presentation is very solid. The game in essence is pretty basic, so it's not like we're talking ground-breaking visuals or anything. But for the simple type of game produced they took the care to do a bang up job on the look of it. Everything is well detailed and polished, the various environments are diverse and very colourful. The animals they threw in to the various environments are an added touch that makes the game a bit funnier. It's got a pretty quirky soundtrack, with some very old school (like 1920s!) music, which is very unusual and help add to the game's uniqueness. As for the controls, the steering can take a bit of getting used to but once you've got the hang of it you'll find the controls respond just the way they should. There is really nothing bad about how this game looks, feels and sounds at all.

As for pros and cons, there are a bit of both. First is the fun factor, a major pro to this game. As you work your way through the Challenges mode you'll find yourself enjoying the diverse types of events you are challenged with, no two races ever seem the same. Another pro is the presentation, as I just discussed. Like I said, at it's heart TNT Racers is a pretty basic game, but they took the care to make it as perfect as they could, which is another aspect that helps make it so much fun. The last pro is the ability to run multiplayer races, both locally and over the Wi-Fi. This game is fun simply playing by yourself, but it increases infinitely when you're racing against other people, that's when the craziness really begins! As for cons, despite how much fun it is making your way through this game, it is quite short. In total there are just 45 events to complete under the Challenges mode, and with no other really viable game mode to continue on to, this title definitely falls under the "short but sweet" category. An extra mode, maybe a smash up derby or something, would really have helped increase this game's score in my opinion. Another con is the lack of bonus material. There are just 6 tracks and 6 cars in this game, some of which you have to unlock along the way. Other than that there is no other bonus material available in this game. Pretty bare bones if you ask me. The final con is the fact that despite finishing the game completely I still could not unlock one last vehicle and two last race tracks. Not sure what I've got to do, this is certainly a bummer!

For any tips and tricks I can offer future players of this game there aren't many, it's a pretty self-explanatory game. Getting to know each track is a must, find the best racing line to take and stick to it. There are many things that can slow you down such as puddles of water, sand, grass, snow, etc. Knowing how to best navigate each track and get through it as quickly as possible will make life a lot less frustrating. Also, experiment with the various pickups and learn how they work, their capabilities. Some you'll like, some you won't. There are lots of pickups in this game normally so don't be afraid to drop one if need be, another will come along soon enough.

So, TNT Racers. Short . . . but sweet. Basic . . . yet well executed. It definitely has it's share of both good and bad points, but for the low price tag it's definitely worth the gamble.