Top-down miniature racing games are ten-a-690-pennies on the App Store these days, so would-be Micro Machine contenders need a hook if they’re to stand out. Slingshot Racing takes this advice literally by equipping each of its diminutive vehicles with a hookshot, used to latch on to pillars and swing the cars around corners.
Your vehicle auto-accelerates around the track and there’s no brake to slow yourself into corners or steering wheel to turn into them.
Rather this one-button game requires a tap of the screen to fling out your grappling line and attach it to the nearest lamppost. Let go of the screen and it retracts, flinging you off on the trajectory you’ve set for yourself. Go wide and you will gain speed but at the expense of brevity. Take a corner with a tight angle and you’ll nip around, without accelerating.
Time your tap incorrectly and chances are you’ll skid out onto the grass or snow lining the sides of the track, losing a great deal of speed as your rivals tear past you.
Tracks are short and often require ten or more laps. In this way the game begins to feel more like a rhythm action game than a racer, as your taps take on a repetitive beat of their own, lap by lap.
The quick re-start option inspires a repeat grasping for perfection with each course as you learn the rhythms of the course and tap your way to pole position.
As well as straight races, some events require you to collect the golden screws precision-placed around the track, requiring a different kind of rhythmic play, upsetting the repetition of the head-to-head races in a smart, considered manner.
While the game’s core mechanic could easily have featured in a lost jewel from the 1980s arcade boom, the visuals are detailed and slick, boasting the kind of assured, if slightly conservative style of, say, the early Pixeljunk games on Sony’s PSN.
Slingshot Racing is a wonderful example of the kind of quality that the iOS platform can give rise to: focused, inventive and bite-sized, an arcade great released in a post-arcade world that has, in Apple’s hardware, found a comfortable home nonetheless.