It really is. I still prefer Mario Kart or ExciteBots overall, but as a 600 point downloadable title, Light Trax delivers the goods, and then some.
The simplistic art style is really cool.
You are the white light track, and you must navigate the course, avoiding obstacles, while slipstreaming next to other light trax to gain boost and overtake the leaders. It's an uphill battle from the get-go, because you're forced to start from 7th position. You can not travel in the same lane as another light trax, but you do want to travel next to one so you can accumulate your boost. Changing lanes reduces your speed, but cutting corners on the inside will give you an edge. You can even screw over light trax behind you by changing into their lane, forcing them into another potentially hazardous direction. There are plenty of perspective changes as you race, which can be confusing at first, but I feel they add style to the game, and force you to be on the ball.
There are a few different game modes, from single race to tour (three-race cup with points), to freeway mode. Freeway mode is different from the racing, essentially you are on a highway and want to accumulate points within the time limit by slipstreaming past other light trax, while going faster and faster.
The game is quite difficult, and I love it. I spent a good few hours trying to get 1st in the 3rd cup, and finally getting it, to unlock the 4th via the freeway mode, was very rewarding.
The music in this game has a techno/electronica vibe to it, and to say the least, it's awesome. Every race has a different tune.
I'll leave you with a video, and impressions from a long-time NW member. In short, buy this game.
So I picked up Light Trax. I have Dotstream, but I never played it much, and I now realize that I didn't understand the mechanics at all. It is sort of a single-player slot-car racing game, but it's SO FUCKING WEIRD, the strategies you have to employ and such. Basically, you build up boost by slipstreaming, and you slipstream by being next to another light track (or, ideally, between two). Very abnormal, but pretty cool. There are also power-ups, and you can cash in a 'life' for a mega-boost. The 3D stuff is nothing more than a neat visual gimmick, as far as I can tell. You automatically shift between planes and keep the lane you were in.
There are two main modes in Light Trax - the original race mode from Dotstream and the new (?) Freeway mode, which is very neat. The rules in Freeway mode are different. You have to slipstream until you can shift to the next gear, which makes you go faster and faster. Very exhilarating. Especially with the cool, minimalist visual design. I really enjoyed what little I played of that mode.
I played the first cup and the first Freeway. I've gotta say, I'm liking it! I don't know why, but I'm enjoying this game a lot more on a home console. The aesthetics really shine (aside from some jaggies), and now I actually know what I'm doing (ProTip: RTFM!). I'm very happy with my purchase.
@anandxxx I really enjoy the mechanics of Mario Kart Wii, simple but still requires skill to pull off the 2nd tier boost. @GameDadGrant I remember getting GT4 when I got my PS2 late last gen, and I liked it at first, but it just became annoying, and I wanted to go back to something more arcadey. I understand people who like it though, like sports sims (which I am also impartial towards).
Yeah, I'm partial to arcade racing myself, but a friend of mine used to be way into racing sims on the PC made by Papyrus, a developer renowned for the realism of their sims. I can understand wanting to experience a F1 race as close to the real thing as possible. It's very strategic and, I'm sure, very thrilling when you're into that stuff.
Haha, DUDE! Racing "Sims" are nothing different than Football or Baseball Sims. Its the same type of stuff.
People who watch those things like those. I'm getting to the point where I'm "fairly certain" that I'm the only one on here who enjoys sports games, and have for years (EDIT- And of course, Pandareus!..maybe/kinda?). And thats ok; you guys don't HAVE to like sports games. I'm not drilling FPS on here though..or the Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat series'.
As for those racing games (and actual races), you have to pit because you're running out of fuel, or your tires are "falling off." Your car wears as it goes on making it harder and harder to handle. Do you pit ("stop") and get your car better, or do you hack it and enjoy your huge lead? Keep in mind that every lap, the guys with fresher tires are gaining on you.. Tricky decision, but one that could make the difference between first place and mediocrity. The races aren't sprints; they're a test of endurance (3 laps vs 100 laps). Think how sweet Mario Kart would be with 100 laps at Ghost Valley, and the only time you could get Items would be by pulling over to the side for about 15 seconds. Ahhh, that would be awesome.
I can't stand Gran Turismo either. I also loathe the day. Nascar Thunder 2003 is still the best "engine" I've experienced in a racing game. It seemed so natural, and the cars felt the appropriate weight (pretty close to how Wario drives..less than Bowser though?). Finding an appropriate entry to a corner is pretty thrilling. I know you said you had to slow down to take the turn (which is natural..right?), but its science! Science is cool, right? Math, too. You can diminish the amount of speed lost by lengthening your turn. Going from near the outside wall, down to the very inside of the turn, and back out to the wall; you extend the angle a bit and you're able to go quicker through there. I'm a bottom feeder generally though. I love running the inside line (a lot of Nascar tracks now are built with progressive banking; even though the inside line is the shortest, you're able to go faster up higher, which was the idea of banking in the first place). I live there.
--As for slowing down; when you drive your actual car, you DO brake when making a 90 degree turn, yes? I hope you're not doing so at 35-40 MPH.. If so, I'm guessing..tire squeals? Smoke? Your car on its roof?
@anandxxx I would like an opportunity to defend Racing games on said Podcast..
Yeah football and baseball sims are boring too though.
Well, not totally. But still, I think these type of games tend to appeal mostly just to huge fans of car, sports, etc. and not much of anyone else because from a gameplay perspective, they're really not doing much interesting. Or at least, not much new and interesting.
I think they're supposed to be one note, that is the point. One cool idea surrounded with pure Nintendo game design at a low low price. I love it.
I think I'll get Light Trax eventually but Panda may be right. It sort of came along right in the midst of what may be the best run of games the Wii has seen yet. I haven't been able to catch up on what I do already own.
I don't disagree with anything you said in your post about racing sims/sports sims. You're right. I just personally don't find it very fun to simulate what happens in real life in a video game. But that's just me.
Also, it's my personal belief that science is cool, but math sucks. I hate math, because I suck at it. Science is cool though, since it helps explain stuff as well as provide me with cool technology like video games.
(what? who just said science must sometimes rely on math in order to work!?! quiet, you.)
I finally beat the 5th cup in light tours mode, and to my surprise I unlocked "hyperlight tour" mode, which is a combination of the tour and freeway modes, with added difficulty. You start off with three races, abbreviated to 2 laps each, and then to get to the next tour you take the freeway. But you're timed on the freeway, and if you don't make it to the next sector in about three minutes, you miss the first race! I ended up missing a race, and everyone caught up to me in the standings because of it.
I've only finished the first Light Tour so far, and I'm not really feeling this game. Always starting in last place, and being "pushed" into obstables because there are fewer clear lanes than there are racers, just isn't that much fun so far. And it feels like it's nearly impossible to win a race without having memorized it first.