APP OF THE DAY: Table Top Racing review (iPhone)

Mario Kart meets Micro Machines is definitely one way to describe Table Top Racing, a brand new iPhone and iPad title from Playrise Digital - the same team that brought us WipEout. Those are some big-name titles to be throwing around as comparison points, but this mini-racer offers up massive fun and more than holds its own. It's got all the hallmarks of not just an iOS classic, but a gaming classic.

Table Top Racing

Format
iPhone, iPad
Price
£1.99
Where
iTunes

From the moment the first circuit is accessed on screen there's that familiar WipEout-esque sweeping pan shot that sets the scene. And what a good-looking game this is - certainly among the best we've seen on a mobile platform thanks to its Retina-ready resolution, smooth 60fps frame rate and real-time lighting effects. If you don't have the latest hardware then some of the top-spec graphic settings get cut, but the game still looked excellent on the iPhone 4S that we used for testing. 

But there are no super-speedy, futuristic ships to be found here. Instead you take control of miniature toy ice cream trucks and assorted cars to race around messed-up tabletops littered with toys, pans, coffee stains and all sorts of other well-rendered stuff. See, we told you it's a lot like Micro Machines.

The game's controls are wonderfully simple too. There's no accelerator, instead your vehicle just goes and goes all by itself, much like a wind-up toy. All you need to do is tap the left or right turn buttons to the corresponding side of the screen, which means eyes can be fixed on to the action without fingers getting all in the way. None of this tilt-to-turn faff, although that is also an option within the menus if it's your personal preference.

But Table Top Racing isn't a classic racer by any means. There are power-ups such as boosters to zip forward, but also weapons that include homing missiles, bombs, electro-explosions and more.

Different play modes have different goals that range from the classic race, to time-trials and elimination rounds. Progress through championships, special events or quick races to earn more coins and learn the circuits. Each step is challenging and like any good racer you'll need to learn those circuits to get the best times, or to avoid falling off the side.

Then it's time to spend your earnings in the garage. If you're desperate to upgrade then there are package deals where coins can be purchased for real cash, but as we found the game so much fun to play we're sure that it's worth being kind to your purse and earning those all-important coins by putting the racing work in. A range of vehicles is available that cost incrementally more but offer varying levels of speed, grip, armour and turbo boost abilities. Paint jobs and tailored wheels are also available to fine-tune your racer.

If computer AI isn't your thing then there's also a multiplayer mode which features both online and over localised Wi-Fi play. Excellent.

If there's any downside it's that Table Top Racing only has eight circuits. We hope there'll be more in the future but, for now, there's a lot of life in those levels from the variety of play modes.

Table Top Racing is the most fun we've had with an iPhone for a long time and well worth the £1.99 asking price.