Speed Racer: The Beginning is really an enigma. We know that it’s based on a cartoon series about race car drivers, wacky hijinks, and dastardly villains. What we don’t know is why Social Games, the developer, chose to make a platforming game instead of a racing game. We also wonder why the developer made the game so challenging that children, the target audience of the cartoon and presumably this game, won’t be able to make it past the first level.
Each level of Speed Racer: The Beginning puts you in the driver’s seat of the Mach 5. Unfortunately for you, each level is filled with pitfalls, chasms, broken bridges, and an assortment of other obstacles. The Mach 5 moves forward at a constant rate without any control from you, which means your only option is to progress forward.
One brake-check, coming up.
Luckily, the Mach 5 is installed with lifts on the bottom, which pop you up into the air when you press a button. You can even double jump, which is useful for the extra long chasms you must jump across. If you fail to jump in time, your car will crash and you must start over. As you move further into the game, more obstacles show up in your path. For instance, you come across other drivers who will try to trip you up by braking immediately in front of you. If you don’t avoid them in time, your car will blow up, and it’s back to the starting line.
Speed Racer tokens line your route, and you must try to collect as many as possible to boost your score. You can also collect turbo boost tokens, which allow you to ramp up the Mach 5’s speed. This speed boost will help you get over those difficult jumps.
Go, Speed Racer, go.
That’s the extent of the game, really. It’s a constant frenzy of platforming mayhem that will probably be frustrating to even seasoned veterans of platformers. The jumps are often difficult to determine, and the enemy racers near you will stop with no warning. Even if you manage to jump over the other cars, but bump them on the way down, it’s game over.
The game’s design is equally disappointing. The graphics are no more than you would expect from an Internet flash game, and the stiff physics system makes the game seem hastily developed. The game also has a tendency to freeze, forcing you to force quit the app and start over.
Speed Racer: The Beginning is a shame. The cartoon features such a rich cast of characters, ideas, and environments that an iOS game based on the Mach 5 should have been a homerun. Instead, the developers have chosen to focus more on platforming than racing, and have basically ignored everything that makes Speed Racer a cultural icon.