Mario Kart Live is Back, in Hot Wheels Form

Hot Wheels Chameleon Car driving through the Rift Rally gate

screenshot: Hot Wheels/Velan Studios

If Mario Kart Live: Home Track came out in 2020, we were quick to praise the AR toy’s gameplay, but were put off by how much it cost for what was on offer. Now developer Velan Studios is back in the bucket seat and while it hasn’t managed to lower the entry cost of its AR RC car technology, the new one is Hot Wheels: Rift Rally looks much sturdier than its predecessor.

The biggest change here is strangely not the new IP but the new system. While we’ll miss Nintendo’s turtle-pounding plumber, Hot Wheels: Rift Rally is now a PS5 console exclusive, with an iOS version giving users the ability to play on the go via a direct in-car connection (no WiFi or 5G required). While the Switch is certainly portable enough, there’s certainly the option of pairing the included RC car with your phone rather than an entire gaming system Rift Rally a mobile edge that will help it compete with more traditional RC cars. It also opens the game to players who don’t own a Switch.

Hot Wheels™ Rift Rally RC Car + Video Game

Otherwise, the basics are pretty similar Mario Kart Live. when you buy Rift Rallywhich costs $130 for the regular bundle and $150 for the Collector’s Edition, you get the game and a Hot Wheels Chameleon RC car with a camera mounted above it in a periscope position similar to what you will find on Mario Kart LiveRC cars. You can then boot into the game, control your car using your system’s controller (the iOS version accepts both controller and touch input), and watch the screen while the game uses AR effects and targets over the one streamed from your car footage.

But as a game Rift Rally strives for a more immersive gaming experience than Mario Kart Live. This game lets you face off against the Koopalings in single player or pass-and-play co-op matches and challenge other people who own the real life Mario Kart Live cars to player versus player racing. Hot Wheels: Rift Rally You can still race against NPCs and other players with chameleon cars (both via split-screen and cross-play), but add a campaign mode and a stunt mode to the mix.

In campaign mode, navigate through a Super Mario world Customize the map screen to complete different races and challenges, which you can play in either single player or pass-and-play mode. The goals can be as simple as racing to the finish line, or they can get a little more creative. In my testing time with the game, I banged virtual bells on the track to awaken a dragon, then dodged its fiery breath as it took out my opponents.

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally gameplay

screenshot: Hot Wheels/Velan Studios

Stunt mode is a bit like a free spins mode but introductory Hot Wheels: Rift Rally‘s other new mechanic: the way the car is controlled. While Mario Kart Live lets you drift to build up a boost, now complemented by maneuvers like donuts, jumping virtual ramps, or wheelies. In stunt mode, you can string these tricks together to pull them off Tony Hawk style combos and earn XP. While your real car obviously won’t jump off a ramp that isn’t there, and doesn’t quite have the dexterity to pull off wheelies or donuts, your screen will show your virtual car pulling off your tricks, while your real car will adjust its speed accordingly .

As for those XP, you’ll use them to unlock different cars, each with their own stats like acceleration or handling. Hence the Chameleon name for the car included in the pack. You map these virtual cars over the chameleon, which then adjusts its driving behavior based on its stats. The developers assured me there are no microtransactions here.

Each car also has its own special train, which is the replacement for Mario Kart style item. For example, you can lay out virtual oil slicks to temporarily stop your opponent’s cars, both in game and in real life. You can also spend points to change a car’s stats and appearance.

Hot Wheels Chameleon car

screenshot: Hot Wheels/Velan Studios

The course structure works the same as in Mario Kart Live, as each pack comes with four goals to build your course all over your home. Unfortunately, you’re maxed out in the 4-gate game, which means you and your friend can’t combine your kits to build an 8-gate course.

Collector’s Edition packs also include an exclusive McLaren Hot Wheels die-cast car in the box, which also unlocks a virtual version of that car in-game. The only other difference between the Collector’s and Standard Editions is that the Collector’s Edition chameleon is black while the Standard Edition’s is white.

The chameleon itself was tough enough to survive while I played with it crashing into walls and gates, although it’s not waterproof and isn’t rated for serious damage like falling down a flight of stairs. It comes with a two year warranty. The 1080p camera delivers usable footage that is end-to-end encrypted to protect privacy. Velan promises around two to three hours of playtime on a single charge, and the cable to charge the chameleon is included.

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally starts on March 14 and is already preparing to look like a more worthy successor Mario Kart Live as a plumber-less game might appear on the surface. We hope for additional features, such as B. the possibility to let players without chameleons participate with purely virtual cards in the future. Mario Kart Live is Back, in Hot Wheels Form

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