Pixar’s new film Cars 2 is now in theaters, and Disney Mobile has put out a game for iOS alongside it. Of course, it doesn’t take an especially good memory to know that movie tie-ins don’t tend to be the best games, but Cars 2 is actually a fun experience. It also happens to be a brief one, because you can finish the game in less than 45 minutes, even if you have some trouble on the harder levels.
That’s right: levels, not tracks. Cars 2 is not a racing game like you might think. It’s more of an auto-running platformer like Canabalt or Robot Unicorn Attack. You can control one of four characters from the film: Mater, Lightning McQueen, Holley Shiftwell, or Finn McMissile, but we couldn’t discern any sort of gameplay difference between them.
Lightning, get up here!
With these characters, you’ll automatically drive forward through the game’s levels and tap the screen to jump and double jump, as well as tilt your device to point the nose of the car up or down. The jumping is fine, but the tilt control could probably be a little more responsive. It’d also be nice if there was an alternate control scheme, and possibly an on-screen d-pad and button, just to give us a choice of how to play.
The game has 24 levels, which are broken up into three locations: Tokyo, London, and an oil rig. There’s no real story to speak of– you’re simply clearing these levels to unlock more, with the possibility of returning to them later to get a higher score. You’ll pick up power-ups and items to boost your score, which are accompanied by sound effects that are quite melodic and satisfying to hear. All the while, you’re trying to dodge physics-enabled objects like bouncing tires, which will slow you down and drain your life meter.
Git ‘er done!
Each level has fairly generous checkpoints and a variety of paths you can take to reach the end. At the end, there’s even a fun little moment where you can try to rack up as many points as the game’s physics will allow. It’s a nice way to punctuate the levels, and it reminds us of a certain famous plumber trying to jump up a flagpole.
Cars 2 has Game Center support, but only for three 25-point achievements tied to clearing each of the locations. Cars 2 would have been a lot more compelling with online leaderboards, more levels, or even just a timer to keep track of how quickly you made it through a level, but it’s still a fun ride while it lasts.