Scalextric has jumped head first into the 21st century with its latest product. Pocket-lint was given the chance to have a play of a new set that its makers Hornby is hoping will take not only the world of slot car racing by storm but the become this year's biggest toy.
The set is Scalextric Sports World and it will retail for around £150. For your £150 you won't get any track, which is a tad annoying however you will get a couple of controllers and an all important black box. The black box is what makes this addition to any Scalextric set awesome.
We've all played Scalextric at some point or other, but the biggest problem is finding time for your friends to come over and play. Now imagine being able to play your friends on your track over the internet. Better still imagine being able to record your time, upload it to a league table and then see how you compare against other racers.
Still not enough? How about the ability to track all the data on your car, how you took that first corner, and how you broke too soon on the final straight. Sounds scary, does it? Well it's coming soon to a Scalextric near you.
The biggest mind-blowing element for us is the amount of detail the magic black box can record. We were allowed to race over 25 laps in our first look demo and within those 25 laps everything we did was recorded. Whether it was the depression of the accelerator, or the lack of breaking, everything is captured and then downloaded to a nearby laptop or PC via a USB connection. With the accompanying software you can then see your telemetrics, how you performed and more importantly how you performed either against different racers or a previous attempt. Everything is then saved and your best track can be uploaded to the Scalextric servers.
However it's not just recording that this black box manages, you can even have it control your game play, either by getting it to control someone else's best lap time you've downloaded from the servers (yes a ghost car actually moves around your track) but also to the simple things in life like the weather.
In our test race the chaps at Scalextric set it to rain half way through. With the announcement of rain (the black box even talks), our car reacted differently. A pit stop later to get on some wet tyres (virtual) and as it happens fuel (yes your car will stop if you don't) we had more grip and could continue racing. The idea of bringing in the elements brings a whole new level to the standard slot car racing and one that is truly amazing. No longer is it just a boring track that you can master, but one that can change and test you every time.
It's not just the weather that can be affected. You can set the car to recognise fuel loads (you're car is faster but harder to control when empty, slow and sluggish when full), tyres (wet and slicks), yellow flag situations (your opponents car will slow when you crash), the car's performance (virtual engines and spoilers) and much, much more.
Aside from the track, you also get the Sports World software in the box that allows you to not only set all the details described above, but also to create tracks virtually before you start building the set on your bedroom floor. You can even enter the bits of track you have so you know it will work, and for those not too fussed about what you have and haven't got, once built, the software will even give you a shopping list if you are missing any sections. The software looks very easy to use, and the short attempt we had at building a track, setting up camera positions for race day and giving it some scenery was very easy.
There is no doubt about it, the Sport World edition is truly amazing, not only for the internet access, but the sheer depth of it. If we were to have one criticism it would be that there are too many options, too much data and too many choices. Just as the Grand Prix fans used to flock to Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix series on the PC, this will be their new bag. A tad more expensive than a PC game admittedly, but for the diehard fan, a whole lot more fun. In short, wow!