Do you remember seeing the Batmobile from earlier Batman movies use a grappling hook to get around tight corners? Do you remember thinking, ‘That’s so cool! I wish I could do that!’? Well, if you put that idea in a videogame, then Slingshot Racing, a steampunk themed racing game, gives you just what you were looking for. But even though it’s not a real thing, it’s still really, really cool.
In Slingshot Racing you control a vehicle that looks like a cross between a toboggan and a racer from The Phantom Menace, and you race it around short tracks. The unique thing here is that instead of having any kind of engine, your sled is hurled around the tracks by grappling-hooks that shoot out and attach to posts scattered around the tracks. You press on the screen to send out your hook to make a turn, and lift your finger to release the hook. That’s all the control input you get, but it’s all you need.
Feel the blur.
There are 64 tracks, each with different objectives. There are normal races against other opponents, as well as time trials, ‘pickup’ races where you have to gather a certain number of cogs, and ‘chomper’ races where you have to avoid getting crushed by a massive machine of icy, slicy death. Completing the races gets you a typical one to three star rating (or ‘cogs’ in this case) at the end of every level, with lots of fireworks and confetti to boot.
The game mechanic here is simple and elegant, and a superb example of what can happen when a touchscreen game is designed from the bottom up for the platform. The controls may be simple, but the game is anything but. The game can be capriciously difficult and somewhat frustrating when you reach the halfway point (especially the pickup and time-trial races), with some races being super easy and others being soul-crushingly difficult. The requirements for getting three cogs on certain races (or in some races, just getting one) seem to be razor thin.
Fear the chomper.
The look of the game is great. We definitely get the sense that we’re in some strange future steampunk world with wonderfully-drawn surreal and detailed art, but the presentation doesn’t change much over the course of the game. Sure, there are some races where the tracks are reversed or done at night, but all in all you’ll be getting a sense of deja-vu relatively quickly. There’s also not a whole lot of variety in the game itself. For a game with 64 levels, we would like to see some different kinds of races, different kinds of tracks, and some way to modify or upgrade our vehicle.
Slingshot Racing is a fun game with a brilliant idea behind it. It’s so simple and well done you’ll kick yourself for not coming up with it first. Lack of variation and bizarre difficulty spikes take it down a peg, but we had an amazing time throwing ourselves around the icy tracks. We look forward to the future with this title, as this is a refreshing and exciting game on iOS. It successfully merges the ideas behind games like Hook Worlds, Tiny Wings, and DrawRace, and creates something unique and fun.