Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Slingshot Racing ($0.99 Universal) is not your typical racing game on a touch device. You don’t steer, you don’t brake, you don’t even step on the gas to accelerate. Instead you use a cable attached to various towers situated around the race track to pull your car to victory.
Driving your race car around a course is more about timing than it is about control. At each turn along the course there is a tower used to steer all of the cars in the race. When you tap and hold on the screen, a cable is shot out from the car and attaches itself to the nearest tower. This cable, when pulled tight, will turn your car inward toward the tower in a circular motion. Very much like swinging a toy plane attached to a string around your head. If you tap too soon, you may latch on to the tower behind you; too late and you will miss the tower completely.
Once you are attached, you continue to press on the screen to keep your race car tethered to the tower. The longer you hold your finger on the screen, the longer your race car remains attached to the tower via the cable. If you remain connected to the tower for too long, you will eventually circle around the tower entirely. The key is to release your race car from the tower before you turn too far and wreck into the wall. It’s all about timing your slings to maximize your shots.
Just like in physics, the shorter the cable the faster your race car will accelerate around the course. If you end up attaching your cable too soon, you will end up making a wide turn an proceed more slowly towards the next turn. Higher speeds are achieved by attaching to multiple towers with shorter and shorter cables. Missing your cables at just one turn can drastically slow you down. How close to the tower you are when you attach will affect the path you take when circling around the tower. Mastering this technique is key when you are racing to pick up various objects placed around the track.
There are two main game modes to choose from: Career and Tournament. There are several different challenges in Career mode, where it is you against the computer. Each course is designed for a different style of race. There are courses where you can race against other cars like a traditional race. There are also more challenging courses where you need to collect gears, complete multiple laps in record time, or race against the chopper which will demolish your car if you fall too far behind. Collecting the gears laid out in various positions around the track will prove to be more difficult, as you have to exercise more exacting control of your car.
The second game mode, Tournament mode, is where you can race against your friends. You can either set up a local game and challenge players that are sitting in the same location as you, or you can elect to play against GameCenter(s AAPL) opponents. You can either invite specific friends or let GameCenter auto fill your opponents for you. In local challenges, all of the players use the same device. Up to four players can play in local challenges as each player has their own color-coded corner of the screen to tap to control their car.
There are over 80 different courses to play when you include the bonus courses. You either have to unlock additional courses by achieving a certain number of gears, or you can unlock all content through an in-app purchase. Each course sets up a unique new pattern to master: some include so many turns, tunnels and dark patches of track that it becomes challenging to know exactly where your cable is going to be attached the first time you make it around a course. There is definitely enough variation in gameplay to sharpen your sling racing skills, before you start challenging your GameCenter friends online this weekend.