There are times when you’re playing Hot Lap League when you won’t be able to contain your excitement. Crossing the line and earning a gold medal, fist-clenched and cheering, is a great experience. And while the game isn’t quite perfect, it offers more than enough stabs of elation to make it well worth checking out.
The racing here is all about time. You’re blasting around short tracks – none of them lasting more than a couple of minutes – trying to shave seconds off your time. There are medals to be won, and if you set the best time on a track you’ll get your name displayed for all to see.
Acceleration is taken out of your hands – you need to focus on steering and drifting. This isn’t some lite-racer where you can win with a few taps, though. You need to perfect your skills, weaving through the corners with precision then flicking back straight to gather speed.
The tracks are filled with tricky turns and sneaky obstacles. Ever pulled off a power sidle on a loop-de-loop? That’s the level of bonkers that’s on offer here. There are jumps, there are switchbacks – and you’re going to need to be on your toes for all of them.
Currently there are two level sets, with four packs of increasingly difficult races in each of them. You’ve got daily challenges as well, with rewards doled out depending on where you finish on the leaderboard. There’s enough to keep you interested, but the game doesn’t quite manage to sustain its original thrill.
For one thing there’s no other cars to race against – just ghosts and the clock. It’s fun, but it means there’s not that last-second overtaking thrill that the very best arcade racers can deliver. Getting a better time is good, but it’s not quite great.
Hot Lap League definitely achieves what it sets out to. It’s fast and reasonably furious, and there’s a level of challenge here – especially on the harder levels – that demands a lot from your reflexes. It’s lacking slightly in thrills and spills, but it makes up for it with those pure moments of time-based success.