Free it Friday: Digital Edition

No cutting or tearing required

13w ago

I downloaded the Hot Wheels id app after I found my Bone Shaker chase on the pegs at a mall toy fair. Didn't actually try scanning the car as designed until I was sure the Mattel account worked across devices.

And then I did. Interestingly, the digital rendition features the id wheels compared to the 5SPs on the physical car. As the id Smart Track, Portal or even the cars don't have an official release where I am... anyone up for a game review?

Per ingame descriptions, physical id cars you scan have better base performance and max performance, don't need ranking up and can be raced more in one sitting (yes, it's a free to play game with a stamina system).

And it does, going up all the way to a performance maximum of 2000. There's basically no significance to the stats even by arcade racing game standards, seeing as all cars have identical max stats and none of them relate to 0-60 times, top speeds, lateral G or anything you might recognize from a more serious racer.

The game is developed by Digital Square, makers of Forza Street... well, that's why the Mattel branding comes first. The good news is that racing is a bit more... involved than Forza Street, although it's still limited. Your virtual id car auto accelerates and you are expected to pick a line... sorry, drift through corners on your own initiative in addition to braking and boosting. But really, none of the tracks are tight enough to actually require braking.

The game is playable with both id and "digital only" cars, with some events restricted to either id-only or digital-only cars. You get digital-only cars through events that drop blueprints or for purchase using credits you earn through winning races or for premium currency (called Redlines here). The game is mostly balanced around digital only cars, and with a large enough collection of real id cars you can complete all of the events open to cars of both types with little challenge. Which arguably is the point. No lootboxes or blind bags here, not when the goal is to sell you on an $5 car or a few of them. id chases are not eligible for id-only events, but they do have a nice "Classified" moniker.

The tracks are all set in Hot Wheels City, a city where someone has woven a lot of orange and blue track around the skyscrapers and office blocks of the central business district. Truthfully, the tracks do get repetitive due to being the same set pieces in different sequences (just like your experiences with the track builder boxes), but with gameplay this simple and this quick (even the longest races are under a minute) it's not going to be that annoying unless you're playing it for hours on end for some reason, least of all to the actual target audience of the game. As much as I would love to play through the worlds of Highway 35 or Acceleracers' Racing Realms, that's probably not happening here.

Yes, it tracks the speed of your pixel car too. I'm under the impression that sending a real Bone Shaker to 300MPH would be aerodynamically improbable alongside many other issues, but that's what the game is for.

Weekends have a Showdown mode, which sees you choose a car and race as much as you can in the game or on the Smart Track to earn points and accomplish missions. If your team wins, you get blueprints for the car you chose, in addition to those you get from accomplishing the missions.

And of course, there are now digital exclusive cars that you have to fork out for. Which is to be expected, but somehow oddly disappointing, as one look at these and you find yourself wanting these in all their physical Spectraflamed glory. On the bright side, the pack containing these four cars and a special campaign for them actually costs a US dollar a car. Hey, cheaper than the mainlines where I am.

Exclusive to the iOS version is the ability to use augmented reality to drop your virtual id cars into the real world. You can scale them up beyond the size of a normal Hot Wheels, but you can't go under that size.

AR cars can do things like perform smokeless burnouts or donuts around the play area you've marked out, although the rest of the scene always came off as overexposed in my experience.

In closing, the video game side of the Hot Wheels id app is... surprisingly solid. There's not really a ton of depth, but it's a good time waster if you want to send your id cars down a virtual orange track instead of a real one. No gatcha salt to get mad at too, but I'm left wishing that unofficial id prices could be less stratospheric. They are made here for crying out loud...

If you found this review interesting, do feel free to check out my professional work at Overt Defense, with my most recent work including coverage of AM General's latest Humvee, the NXT 360. No, it's not electrified, although an option for that is coming in the near future.

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Comments (1)

  • This is a neat insight into something not many of us here play enough to fully understand (and in my case, I can't afford it at all). Thanks for this write-up!

      3 months ago