Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers
Rev Up Those Engines In Axle City Racers
Sometime between Xenon Racer and The Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Rise of SH1FT3R, the developers 3DClouds worked on...this. Before the release of the latter, esteemed publisher Outright Games collaborated with the developer. The result? Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers or Axle City Racers for short. Like with every Outright Games release covered so far, Axle City Racers is a children's show tie-in. Rather than controlling vehicles and traveling through platforming environments, the game provides honest arcade racing instead.
There are no air quotes or cheekiness, the gameplay is straightforward as well as its presentation. Players select one out of a roster of monster trucks and win races with power-ups and skill. It's near impossible to mess up as the game holds both of the player's hands throughout. The cars drive smooth as butter, contrasting their aggressive "monster truck" appearance. Each truck has so much grip players can plow through corners at top speed. The drifting mechanics are simple, giving players a boost over time. It's amusing seeing such large trucks handle better than most modern cars.
As With Most Cartoons, The Characters Are Chatty
There aren't many negatives I can give Axle City Racers except for a major one. Blaze will not shut up. From the moment you press start, Blaze, the red monster truck, fires from all cylinders listing menus, descriptions, and everything with a caption. At first, I thought this was a text-to-voice accessibility option and it was something I could turn off. Not only were there any accessibility options in the config menu, but the only way to turn him off is to turn the dialogue sound to 0. This was an intended feature of the game.
What was amusing about this is that each loading screen, which there is a lot of, offers a scientific fact. When Blaze was first telling me about the laws of physics, it left me with whiplash. Especially since there's no inkling of a story of any kind at all elsewhere. The modes featured in ACR are quick race and a tournament mode. That's it. While I appreciate the no-frills experience, the random science facts felt more out of place. Blaze giving his best Bill Nye impression aside, how does the gameplay stack up?
They Can't Keep Getting Away With These Safe Racing Games
"But Nay," the reader is probably asking, "Every single children's game is meant for children? Why be critical?" Hold your breath, I'm going to go easy on this game. Axle City Racers is an actual fun title that I feel toddlers will enjoy. The controls are easy to grasp, the cars handle smoothly, and the difficulty isn't challenging. Even on hard difficulty, I managed to lead the pack in every race aside from one. Players can collect ten wrenches scattered across each course which enables the usage of power-ups.
Each racer has a unique power-up ranging from protection from power-ups, speed boosts, and attacks that affect other drivers. Unfortunately, some power-ups are better than others, meaning some racers are as well. This will become important as we unlock one monster truck later on. I mentioned how the game isn't challenging and on Hard difficulty, at most, the rubberband AI kicks into overdrive. I was playing near perfect at times and yet the AI was always on my tail no matter what.
The Shortest Game We Ever Covered And It's No Exaggeration
I mentioned earlier that certain trucks, like Blaze and Watts, have power-ups that grant them a speed boost. Aside from using boost pads, this is the only way to gain speed in the game. This makes their abilities invaluable in Axle City Racers, putting them ahead of the pack in races littered with wrenches. There are some courses that aren't as abundant with wrenches, making the pack much closer than normal. In certain races, however, it's domination.
This leads to a "First Take" 'First,' in that I was able to clear Axle City Racers and all of its courses in less than an hour. There are three tournaments with three races each, followed by a fourth and final event. All nine courses, with the exception of one that's two laps, are three laps and can be completed in about two minutes each. This rounded each GP to about 10 minutes on average. The final "race" was against Crusher, a blue semi-truck different from the other trucks. Unfortunately, it was an absolute wash as the overabundance of wrenches meant I was always boosting.
When A Game Can Be Completed In Less Than An Hour...
Clearing Adventure mode unlocks Crusher as a bonus truck, which isn't worth the effort as his ability sucks. His power-up places a land mine that slows enemy drivers in its wake. That would be good if it gave him a speed boost, which it doesn't. This meant that the best trucks the player could drive were unlocked from the beginning. Unless players are adamant on 100%'ing the game, which are the same loading screens as gallery images, there's not much to do following Adventure mode.
It was fun playing Axle City Racers while it lasted, mainly from attempting to break the game engine. When I wasn't attempting to go as fast as possible with what was presented to me, I was hearing Blaze yell about science. I challenged myself to see if I could actually clear the game in the allotted time for the fun of it. Now that I've actually accomplished that, I felt a pang of regret. Toddlers may get more mileage out of this than grown adults, but the game is far too short to consider a worthwhile investment.
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers is available on the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.