Art Style: light Trax Review
The Art Style series of game’s have been something of a breath of fresh air for the WiiWare service. So many companies have been trying to cram as much stuff into the small file size limit as they possibly can. These games are the exact opposite of that putting what might seem like a minimum of effort into a game that turns out to be amazingly deep and fun. Art Style: light trax is no exception to that rule and you get a lot of great stuff for a small price.
Racing games in today’s culture are continually getting bigger and pushing the limits on realism. light trax turns that notion on its head with a “cast” of racers that are represented by simple beams of light. All of the racers are identical aside from the different colors of light they project. Commands are limited to braking, turning with the d-pad and activating power ups with the A button. Outside of that there’s nothing that you need to know. You don’t need to know proper weight ratios and gear load outs. The track is really the opponent in this game. There are areas on the track that will slow you down, or cause you to “crash”. These need to be avoided at all costs, but outside of that there is very little to really worry about.
There is quite a lot of strategy in this simplicity though. No two beams of light can occupy the same space. You will need to use this to your advantage by occupying spaces that will force the other racers to crash into walls or run through speed breaking spots on the track. Drafting is accomplished by racing alongside another beam of light, which will fill up your boost meter. Power ups in the game are also limited to things like a simple boost of speed or a small amount of invulnerability.
Lots of Content
There are three different modes of play to choose from. Light tours is your traditional multi-race tournament. Points are awarded depending on the position you finish in the race. Each tour has three races and if you finish the tour in first place you’ll unlock access to the next tour. These will get progressively harder and you’ll find yourself struggling as early as the third tour to finish in first place. Each tour is not immediately unlock however. You have to travel down a freeway to get to the next area. It provides a bit of a cool down between each tour that will refresh you and get you ready for the action. Light Races allow you to play a single race from any of the races that you’ve unlocked previously. Freeway is a bit of a time attack mode. The object of this mode is to simply travel as far as you possibly can in the given amount of time.
The music in the game also fits this simplistic approach. Every race is filled with ambient sounds that sound like something out of a science fiction movie and it feels perfectly in place in a game like this.
Racing in 3D
The original GBA release of dotstream featured simple racing on a single side scrolling plane. It made the game a perfect fit for the GBA and Nintendo has gone and updated this game for a new platform. Now racing is no longer restricted to that single plane, but you’ll be racing up walls around corners and everything in between. Up, down, left, or right; no direction is left out and you’ll find some very interesting combinations of turns that will keep you on your toes.
Art Style: light trax starts out simple enough. The first tour really gets people familiar with the racing concept found in the game. You’ll learn that you always start each race slower than everyone else and you have to really take advantage of your power ups and drafting to overtake the other racers. You’ll learn how to change lanes based on which direction you’re facing. After that though the difficulty ramps up and by the third tour you’ll find yourself getting frustrated with having to retire from a race before the first lap is over. It will take quite a few times through the tracks to really learn their layouts and how obstacles move around and how you can avoid them.
Racing Shouldn’t Be a Solitary Experience
Watch any race on TV and you’ll know you’re not the only person on the track. There are other racers and while there are 6 other racers you’re competing against they’re all computer opponents. There is no option for split screen multi-player, which seems like a rather huge oversight for a company like Nintendo. It would have been great to get a group of friends together and pretend you’re running the light cycles from Tron. Even the addition of one human opponent would have been good, but there could have been some really great four player moments to be had.
The Art Style series succeeds in doing what it sets out to do; breaking the games down to their most basic elements and giving people the ability to create a lot of strategy and depth from a series of simple concepts. There is one feature that is lacking from the original release of the game, and that’s formation. It was a very creative idea where you would control multiple beams of light to collect items on the tracks and rack up high scores. The lack of a party feeling also brings down the experience just a bit. Racing games should be enjoyed by multiple people playing against each other. Despite that this is a really solid puzzle style racing game that you’ll really enjoy once you wrap your head around the concept. For 600 points you really couldn’t find a better racing experience for the price.
Final Score: 3/5 Average
Unlocked all Tours,played some individual races, raced along the freeway.
Total Play Time: 7 hours
Review copy of the game provided by Golin Harris/Nintendo.