Review: Anki Overdrive Fast & Furious edition

When I was a kid, I grew up with slot cars, while they were loads of fun, they were always plagued by the dreaded brushes or track connection issues....

When I was a kid, I grew up with slot cars, while they were loads of fun, they were always plagued by the dreaded brushes or track connection issues. Thankfully in 2017, slot cars are now built with new technology and Anki Overdrive is the perfect execution of that.

Tracks

Track pieces now snap together cleanly every time wihtout fail, thanks to interconnecting magnets. This makes you first job as a track designer an incredibly pleasant one. We used to set up a track and basically leave it alone because switching things up was such a hassle. With this, its so easy to change track configurations, that you’ll do it more often.

This edition of the game comes with 4 straight pieces and 6x 90 degree corners, 2 riser pieces and 12 guard rails. Not all straights are created equal though. There’s a special start/finish piece where the cars magically know to lineup at for the start of a race. There’s also Power Zone straight piece that provides a <<boost>> as you drive over it. Essentially these are smart tracks that communicate with the cars your drive on it and the mobile controller app.

Magnetic track connectors

There’s also no longer a need for cars to be locked into individual lanes. The grooves are gone, instead replaced with the ability for cars to move across lanes digitally as the track layout is understood by game and the cars that race on it.

Once you’ve got the hang of things, you can always buy more track pieces to expand your circuit design, only limited by your imagination (and budget). Given next weekend is the Bathurst 1000, I’d love to see someone build the entire mount Panorama circuit with Anki Overdrive.

Cars

Anki vehicles are basically 4-wheeled smart robots that are programmed for racing. Packed with cutting-edge features like an Optical Sensor, Dedicated 50MHz CPU, 2 high performance motors that allow for precision manoeuvring with 1mm accuracy.

Overdrive can facilitate up to 4 simultaneous players at any given time, there’s 2 vehicles included in the Fast and Furious edition, Dom’s Ice Charger Supercar, Hobb’s MXT Supercar, but there’s actually a serious number of cars you can buy that work with this.

These cars fall into three main categories, Supercars, Supertrucks and Drive cars. The Fast & Furious cars are Supercars. These each have a different set of special digital weapons, yep, weapons which you can deploy to slow down your competitors. Cars can also be upgraded with Armor, increased strike range, faster healing and much more.

Battery
LifeSupercars and Supertrucks last for around 20 minutes of racing, to recharge them, you’ll need to allow between 8 to 11 minutes before you can race again. There is a battery level indicator in race setup screens, so you’ll know when you’re getting low.

Gameplay

With your track built and your cars charged, you need to fire up the mobile app. After connecting to your cars via Bluetooth, the cars will need to do a scan of the track. Once this is done, you can simply tell the game to use the previously scanned track, or if you’ve changed things, to do another scan.

A track scan simply involves the cars driving themselves around the track for 2 laps and finding which pieces in which sequence you’ve connected. Its actually awesome to see the live updating on-screen as the cars discover new pieces.

With the track sorted, you can choose between Single player and multiplayer. In Single Player, you’ll play a campaign, much like a standard video game, just with the race playing out in the real world. Choose your car, then race the competition and unlock vehicle upgrades.

In Open Play, you get to choose between different game modes, some of which require unlocking. Race, Battle, Takeover (requires Supertruck) Time Trial, Battle Race and King of the hill (requires 3 vehicles).

Multiplayer allows you to create your own game or connect to a friend’s game in progress, so you can race against each other. Once connected, you choose your favourite car and you’re away and racing.

To race, you press or release the accelerator pedal on your mobile device. If unlocked, you can fire attacks on your opponents by tapping on the selected item on the right. To change lanes, you tip your device to the left or right and the accelerometer translates to turning the wheel of your car on the track. I do wish there was an option where you could use your right thumb to change lanes, rather than tilting your device being the only option.

Price and Availability

The standard Anki Overdrive starter kit costs A$269.00, while the Fast & Furious edition will set you back A$299.00 from places like JB Hi-Fi.

Included in that box is:

  • Dom’s Ice Charger Supercar
  • Hobb’s MXT Supercar
  • NEW Power Zone track piece
  • 3 straight pieces
  • 6 curved track pieces
  • 2 riser pieces
  • 12 guardrails
  • 1 four-car charging platform
  • 1 tyre cleaner

Overall

If I was a kid today (big kids too) looking for some slot car fun, there’s no question, this technology-packed version is the way to go. If you’re on-board with getting Anki Overdrive, then you’ll face a series of decisions, the first being your choice between the standard or Fast and Furious starter kit.

If you’re even a tiny bit of a fan of the franchise, then the small premium is definitely worth it. Its not just the unique cars, but the track is branded as Fast & Furious, the white logo looks great on the black track with orange accents.

Your next is how many cars you need. The included charger features 4 slots, as does the starting line, so grabbing a couple extra will make for great parties with friends or racing your siblings. Your last decision is about the track, how many pieces do you need to address your creativity, or to build your favourite circuit? There’s optional accessories like jumps or banked turns that can really spice of the racing. I would like to see 45 degree corners to provide even more options.

There are no included controllers because Anki understands we all have plenty of mobile devices that can be a control with a simple, free app download on iOS or Android.

Christmas isn’t that far off and you’d be well assured the parent of the year award should this make its way under the tree.

 

8.5
Review: ANKI Overdrive Fast & Furious edition
The Good
  • Magnetic track connections
  • Smart cars
  • Lane switching
The Bad
  • Cost
  • Battery life
  • Design
    9.0
  • Gameplay
    8.5
  • Value
    8.0
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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.