Rejoice! For there is a game you can play on a laptop without having to fart around with a trackpad! Using the just the cursor keys, alt and space, Little Racers STREET is perfect for that moment you get your computer out on a train, think about doing some work and then decide you can’t be arsed.
I say perfect but, for some unknown reason, some menu options are mapped to PgUp and so on, so you cant change a secondary colour in design mode if you don’t have a full keyboard. And the menu music stops after one loop, which is a bit disconcerting. But, y’know, cheap game and all that.
Anyway, niggles aside, Little Racers STREET is a very good top down racer, getting the main thing right, the racing physics, and building from there. You swoop around corners, shave chicanes and nitro your way to victory in such a compulsive way, minutes turn into hours as you repeatedly have just one more go. This is complemented by mechanics seen in games like Extreme Road Trip, giving you a list of objectives after each race and tallying the progress of ‘Win 5 races’ and the like.
Online, things aren't quite as smooth. I may have been unlucky, but every game I played suffered with pretty bad lag. Human players (who always seem to have a vastly superior car) zoom off at the start, wobbling off into the distance, leaving you to persevere with the AI (the game supports 12 players at once, but I never found races populated by more than a handful, leaving the AI to make up the numbers).
Because of the lag, you very frequently experience an utterly disheartening resynch of the AI cars. You will find yourself embroiled in a tense scrap for fifth and suddenly half a dozen cars fly past you sideways, presumably to catch back up with the game as it appears on the host machine. I may have been unlucky and have jumped into matches where the host hasn't turned off his porn torrents, but teleporting cars were a pretty consistent feature of my time online.
Then we come to the thorny issue of summarising an indie game. Do we judge the game, standing alone on its merits or review it as a £5 pocket money game? If it’s the latter, it’s a great little time sink that will kill a few hours. If it’s the former, it’s a great little time sink that will kill a few hours with shitty netcode and poorly thought out menu controls. I would give it 3.5 if I was able to, but im not, so im rounding down. Whole numbers are a cruel mistress.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to put up a Kickstarter for a new Super Cars game…