A good racing with poor controls
Author: Brandon Girod
Date: 06 Jun 2017, tested on HTC One M8
Good graphics, lots of social features
Graphic options default to an automatic adjustment option, graphical performance is lacking, poor controls
I’ll be frank here, I’ve never really played a truly great racing game on any mobile platform. The inherent nature of the device really draws back how it handles and ultimately it seems like they’ll never be quite as good as what a typical controller can pull off. Mini Drivers for Android is a racing game that really proves that point because it’s mechanically sound and has a lot of great concepts but the controls ultimately ruin the experience for me.
After a skippable tutorial you get thrown into a menu screen that gives you a lot of choices between what you want to play… eventually. To start off you have to race in these “tournaments”. As you race in these tournaments you’ll gather currency and stars, both of which are needed for various things. Currency will let you upgrade your car and eventually purchase a new one while stars allow you to participate in more races.
This is an isometric racer and you steer with two directional buttons. Unfortunately directional buttons really suck for steering because you can tap or hold but neither offer the kind of direct feedback you really need in a racing game. The result means you’re constantly oversteering or understeering and nothing ever feels perfect the way they might with a wheel or even just a controller.
The graphics are also really resource intensive and while they look pretty good, I can’t figure out why they would be such a hog when there are other racing games out there that look a lot better and perform as well as they look. The game also comes with an option to automatically adjust graphics based on your phone and it’s set by default. Halfway through my first race my graphics were adjusted to the lowest settings and everything looked super pixelated -- almost like I was playing Super Mario Kart on my SNES.
Mini Drivers is a really cool game in theory but the controls don’t execute that well. There are power-ups to collect and the level design is pretty sound but I always felt really frustrated after a race simply because one bad turn can cost you the game, even if you’re in the lead the entire time.
Cartoon Formula 1 race
Author: Tariq Abdulla
Date: 08 Jun 2017, tested on HTC One S
Decent animation, lots of levels, two-finger controls
Control needs to get used to, graphics could have been better
MiniDrivers for Android is a game of cute Formula 1 style racing, with realistic weather effects and bubbly 3D graphics. But the racing isn't really so intense: this is more about careful steering to make sure you don't get yourself wedged into a corner. There's a line of "best path" to help you out a bit with planning ahead.
It's on-screen buttons all the way here, with left, right and brake/reverse. The steering can throw you a bit, as you have to remember to reverse left and right when your perspective changes. That's likely going to trip you up a few times and get you stuck. Sometimes you'll be rescued from these situations; but it's annoying when you aren't; especially when the perspective makes it difficult to get yourself unstuck. You can find yourself reversing out of a corner, and correcting the wrong way.
There are some wacky powerups to collect: like oil, boomerangs and force shields. But it feels like you can't really get the angle on your opponents to make them effective. There are both tournament and online season modes available; but you'll need to win some cash to buy your first car for season mode. I was impressed by the smooth graphics, including the fact that you can drive into the water. MiniDrivers has some humour and decent visual appeal, but somehow the racing itself just didn't hook me.