When we noticed that Cartoon Network’s newest iOS game features characters from different shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Ben Ten, we had high hopes for a Mario Kart-like racer. After all, mascot racers like Konami’s Krazy Kart Racers and Sega’s Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing were especially great for fans, plus they’re fun on their own. While the browser version seems to be made in this style, Formula Cartoon: Touch ‘N’ Go on iOS isn’t fun at all, unless you have a special fondness for 1970s-era slot car racing.
Slot car racing was how toy car enthusiasts raced each other decades before Gran Turismo or Real Racing. You’d place a toy car on an electrified track, which you could charge up by pressing on a handheld trigger. If you gave the car too much juice, you’d run the risk of flying off the track and having to put your car back on for another go.
Leave it all on the track.
Formula Cartoon ignores decades of videogame advancements and instead replicates this primitive control scheme. You have just one button to press, which will make your car speed ahead. Letting go will slow it down, allowing you to take sharp turns without falling off the track. Meanwhile, other racers will whiz around you, bumping you off and jockeying for first place.
Since you can’t control the actual steering, there’s an unpleasant learning curve to Formula Cartoon. If you’re patient and replay these tracks repeatedly, you’ll eventually earn enough golden gears to unlock better handling, acceleration, and weight for your vehicles. But you can only add two upgrades to each car, and you have to pay more gears if you want to replace them.
There are just four vehicles unlocked when you buy Formula Cartoon: Ben Ten, Mordecai, Finn, and Gumball, each from a different Cartoon Network show. The rest have to be purchased with real money. They come in a Ben Ten pack and an Adventure Time pack, so fans of those popular shows will have to pay extra. Though the racers have slightly different stats, they’re devoid of personality, with no voice samples or cutscenes to make you feel like they’re part of a digital cartoon world.
This is no Mushroom Kingdom.
Another problem with Formula Cartoon is that it only comes with 10 tracks. Eight make up the Gumball circuit, and you also get one sample track from the eight-level Adventure Time and Ben Ten circuits. The rest are unlocked when you purchase the characters with real-world money. While the tracks have plenty of sharp curves and calamitous intersections, they’re also completely missing the personality of the shows. Don’t expect any Mario Kart-style creativity or obstacles, or you’ll be just as disappointed as we were.
Besides a single-screen multiplayer mode, where you can press on a corner to speed along your character, that’s all there is to this dud of a racing game. With extremely limited controls, a poor upgrade system, a lack of racers and tracks, and no personality from the shows, Formula Cartoon is a spectacular wreck. We can think of many $1 iOS racing games that are far more interesting, so give this licensed junk a pass.