One of the really great gifts I got for Christmas as a kid was a slot car track. I remember racing friends and family for hours!
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to play with the Anki OVERDRIVE racing system and it’s amazing how technology has advanced the concept of the simple slot car race track into smartphone-powered battle racers. If you’ve ever played any racing games on consoles or your smart phone, you get that style of game play combined with the real life racing action on the track.
We were surprised how much fun the Anki OVERDRIVE system was to play as well as how simplified the set up was. Anki supplied us with their OVERDRIVE Starter kit and we went from unboxing to racing in about 20 minutes.
The track itself was extremely easy to set up as each end has magnetic tabs that lock the adjoining track section into place. Once the track is fully connected, you place the cars on the track and they will map the track’s layout before ending at the start/finish line. A far cry from those old slot cars, the Anki OVERDRIVE doesn’t require power to the track. The cars contain their own rechargeable power source and so the track can be set up just about anywhere.
The Anki OVERDRIVE app from the Apple App Store or Google Play is your controller and it connects to the cars via bluetooth. There are a variety of game play modes in the app which really add a lot of depth to what you can do. There are six different game modes available which include racing, battles, multi-player, tournament and team. In the tournament mode, the app will prompt you to follow a timeline of challenges and races with their cast of colorful ‘AI Commander’ characters. With each advance, you earn equipment to outfit your vehicle to make it more formidable for the next race.
Part of the game play includes the ability to use special weapons to slow down or disable your opponent, and as mentioned, you earn new weapons or abilities as you advance. Our vehicle was outfitted with a tractor beam which would slow an opponent in front as well as an energy disrupter which causes your opponent’s vehicle to slow or stop. Sounds funny, but zapping that Frenchie was extremely satisfying!
Controlling the cars is extremely easy. Prior to each match, the cars map the track layout so they know exactly where they are on the track. You can use your phone as a steering wheel by rotating it which will make your car change lanes. I found that I never fell off the track, but occasionally the computer driven cars would go flying off as activate a “boost mode”. The controls include a throttle as well as access to two weapons. There is also a lap counter which keeps track of the laps completed and your place.
We really like the fact that the controllers are smart phone based which makes it easy for anyone to join the fun. We’ve got a Xbox One in the house and those controllers are expensive and if you only have two controllers but four friends over, two of you are only spectators. The Anki OVERDRIVE allows four players to race simultaneously, or just one player versus the computer racer.
We set up the starter track in the default configuration on our dining room table and it stretches nearly 6.5 feet. The track is fully expandable as Anki offers a variety of expansion packs which feature everything from high speed straights, banked corners, four-way intersections and even a jump kit. From some of the pictures and videos we’ve seen, you can create some pretty epic track layouts.
The starter kit comes with two cars, and additional Anki vehicles can be added to your garage. Each car has its own unique skills and upgrades and so you can make it your own as you earn special equipment to outfit your racer.
The Starter Kit normally retails for $150 but it’s currently discounted to $119. You can purchase the Anki OVERDRIVE and the expansion packs and vehicles through their online store. The Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit and expansion packs are also available on Amazon.
Overall, we had a fantastic time with the Anki OVERDRIVE and once again I found myself once again facing off against family and friends for the chance to be the House Champion. The Anki OVERDRIVE is a combination of a video game with live racing action and that’s what makes this racing system so much fun.
You can watch how fast we can set up the track and then go racing against Garcon, the French speaking AI commander who reminds us of Jean Girard character (Sacha Baron Cohen) in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby:
For more about the Anki OVERDRIVE racing system or to take advantage of the special discount now being offered, visit them on the web at anki.com.