Somewhere out in space there is Tire — but not just any tire, for it’s a SPACE-TIRE — and that tire’s mission is to make it to the end of an insane course at breakneck speeds, or else he’ll have to do it all over again. So goes the setup to Racing Tyres Space (out now, $0.99), the inaugural iOS development effort from Olivier PARRA that may at first remind quite a few of you of Nintendo’s underappreciated Uniracers. Although you won’t necessarily be performing mad tricks in Racing Tyres Space, you will be flying around loop-de-loops — ricocheting around corners — and achieving infinite acceleration!
The game’s controls keep things very simple: with players accelerating towards the right side of the screen by holding the right side, and accelerating towards left side by holding the left side. The catch here is that everything in Racing Tyres Space — including your controls — is entirely physics based, and so the longer you hold down the more insanely fast your almighty space-tire will be going. You can’t just stop and reverse gears on a dime when you’re already blazing a trail at 220 miles-per-hour, and you also sometimes can’t successfully complete the turn you needed at those speed either.
Have you ever played putt-putt golf and noticed how your golf ball will positively refuse to go in the hole, even if your shot was otherwise dead on, all if the ball was going too fast when it arrived? There will be in times in Racing Tyres Space where you must break the sound barrier and defy gravity itself, and there will be times when you need for your space wheel to go down a hole without ricocheting off the edges. Knowing how to rapidly switch between these two conditions — as well as deal with the track’s constant zigzagging — is where the real heart of Racing Tyres Space great challenge truly lies.
Taken as a whole so far, I want to say that I greatly appreciate what the people over at Olivier PARRA have accomplished — both visually, control wise, and music wise — in the visceral tour-de-force that is Racing Tyres Space. However — as things currently stand — the game is oppressively hard to get the hang of, especially since you have to both learn and master long race courses in just twenty or so seconds. What follows are a couple of suggestions to the developer that I believe would go a long ways towards making Racing Tyres Space a more fun and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Firstly, you need to accept that almost no one will ever become as truly intimate with every nook and cranny of a game’s design as either the developers — or the long term beta testers — have become over a very long period of time. What seems perfectly plausible, simple, and completely obvious to you — either because you designed the game, or had to play it for a period of many months as your entire job — isn’t so clear to other people. Fortunately an issue like this — which is actually a very easy and common mistake — could be remedied in so many ways, and I eagerly look forward to potential future updates of Racing Tyres Space because of this fact.
The first dilemma is that the time-limit on each track seems to contain absolutely no wiggle room, which meant that I was faced with constant failures wherein I coasted past the finish line a split second after I ran out of time. I actually spent over an hour finishing just the first track, and — as of yet — I’ve still not managed to pass the second-track at all (only ever sometimes coasting by the rather tricky to reach finish line slightly too late). While I understand your desire for Racing Tyres Space to become an extreme challenge — similar to games such as Super Hexagon, or even Boson X (our review) — it currently feels more like a test of whether or not I was the game’s actual creator.
Perhaps this could be alleviated by adding an extra 1-to-2 seconds to each course’s time-limit to accommodate for a smidgen more wiggle room, since even that much extra time wouldn’t let someone reach a level’s end if they didn’t know how to handle every turn. Alternately the game might need a time limitless exploration mode so that players can familiarize themselves fully with a track before they’re tested on it, rather than being expected to learn the precise ins-and-outs of a course all while a gun is to their head. Furthermore the answer might even be to take a page from the very language of classic racing video games, and declare that if your space-tire managed to coast past the finish line that you successfully completed the stage all the same (which is still not easy to do).
A different angle from which to attack the same issue might even be to address the fact that you’re often blowing past long straightaways at speeds probably approaching mach 9, which can make it very hard to gauge when it’s finally time to begin slowing down. Perhaps visual cues, such as the track’s color changing, could be added to the scenery so that preparing for stops — so that you don’t overshoot a jump, or ricochet off the path you desperately needed to take — didn’t always feel like a matter of total guesswork and luck. Such an idea — in order to maintain a more pure level of challenge — could even be used in the hypothetical exploration mode that I previously mentioned, in order to better help players learn the track’s ins-and-outs before the real test of ultimate skill began.
Another issue — although of a completely different flavor this time — that desperately needs addressing is the current placement of Racing Tyres Space’s “course reset” button. I want to say right now that — for a game where one mistake truly does mean the entire effort was wasted — I greatly appreciate the fact that there’s a button for immediately aborting the run, all while simultaneously beginning the next attempt. The problem is that you’ve decided to place the button right next to the stage selection screen, meaning that — all too frequently — my attempt to restart a level has instead taken me of the stage entirely.
Anyways — with all that said — I do want to reiterate the fact that I actually do like what has been done with Racing Tyres Space so far, and genuinely am looking forward to any potential updates the game might receive. However — as things currently stand — I would have to advise anyone whom doesn’t love a Dark Souls level of challenge to pass this game up right now, as Racing Tyres Space is currently just that unforgiving. For those of you out there that already meet this criterion, then I am sure that you’ll find Racing Tyres Space to be the greatest — and fastest — racing game you’ve ever before played on the iOS.
iFanzine Verdict: Olivier PARRA’s Racing Tyres Space is quite probably the fastest, most insane, and well controlling racing game — all cast in the image of Uniracers — that you’ll ever find on the iOS. The only problem is that the game’s time limit permits the player not one smidgen of wiggle room, instantaneously elevating the game to a difficulty level more befitting an entry in the Dark Souls series. Racing Tyres Space will be an amazing experience for those whom can tolerate that level of exacting difficulty, but — for everyone else — I advise waiting to see if any future patches arrive.