(Editor’s Note: Value is one of the key components we use in our review scores. Our review score is based on the U.S. MSRP. In Canada, we’re typically seeing up to a 50% markup (possibly more) on Apptivity sets in general. This extra $5 on the basic toys during a time of near dollar parity steals a lot of value from the toy and game. For our Canadian readers, we would suggest subtracting a half star from the review score.)
You’ve probably already seen our review of Mattel’s Apptivity The Dark Knight Rises (and if you haven’t, go back and read it. It’s okay, we’ll wait) so you have a basic idea of the concept. Toys and iPads come together to provide a unique iOS gaming experience. The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be a fairly solid experience with a few control issues. The Hot Wheels line unfortunately amps the control issues up a bit due to its nature, making it a tougher proposition.
With Apptivity Hot Wheels, you have the run of the top secret Hot Wheels Test Facility where a number of racing, jumping, and shooting challenges await you. You can mill around the facility, investigate some of the areas, and take part in the various challenges. You have certain modifications to your car available from the start that allow you to participate in the three different areas, and of course upgrades are available as you complete challenges and earn credits. There are four cars you can choose from (we received the Bone Shaker car for review) in the package, and as with The Dark Knight Rises, you can download the iPad app for free, though it’s fairly limited in what you can do without the toy.
The game itself is presented quite nicely, like Dark Knight Rises was. You have much more control over your car, but not as much control as you need. Due to the nature of the game you can steer your car and choose from a couple of preset speeds, but without full throttle control, it feels a bit limiting. And where Dark Knight has occasional control problems, Hot Wheels takes a big step backwards in terms of recognizing how you turn your car. There’s that turning thing again, for some reason the Apptivity apps don’t handle rotating the toys that well, and that’s a big problem when you’re steering. It’s navigable, but it’s very challenging. At least button presses (there’s an action button at the front) work fairly well, which you need when the shooting challenges come up.
I’ll provide the same warning I did with Dark Knight Rises. A screen protector for your iPad is highly recommended with this game. The contacts could potentially scratch your screen, as happened to my iPad 2. Given how kids can be with toys and games, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting them play without a screen protector.
The 4+ iTunes Store rating seems appropriate. Most of the action involves racing and jumping, though there are shooting challenges. If shooting missiles and lasers from a car is a bit much for your kids, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But by today’s standards, this game is fairly tame.
The toys themselves are actually really solid. There’s a spring switch on the bottom of the car that retracts the contacts and lets you play with the toy like an actual Hot Wheels car with moving wheels and everything. My boys seemed more interested in playing with the car sometimes than the game itself. Of course, you can get a regular Hot Wheels car (with a bit better build quality) for a fraction of the price, so don’t get the game just for the car.
On the whole, $10 for the toy and game isn’t bad value, but the control issues will result in some frustration when it comes time to steering anywhere. It’s probably not the best Apptivity set out there for this reason, though there are quite a few things it does well. The cars themselves are nice, and the game itself has serious potential, but if you stop playing after 30 minutes because you’ve had it with the steering, it makes it harder to recommend.
A review sample was provided to GamerPops.
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