Did you ever play the sandboarding bit in Sonic Adventure? Perhaps not, but Tray Racers! is pretty much the exact same experience, only free to play and essentially online only.
You slide down a sandy hill on a tray, avoiding rocks, cacti and other obstacles, trying to beat other tray racers to the line or posting the fastest time on daily leaderboard challenges.
With no single-player campaign to speak of, you get into a multiplayer lobby or hit the time trials. But it’s quick to get into and works really well for a quick blast with friends.
The cosy little campfire scene that acts as your waiting lobby can provide fun for your crew in itself, with some fun little touches like wildlife to find and seats to sit on, and you can each get out your instrument for a quick twang, though it’s not as involved as, say, Sea of Thieves’ al fresco jangling.
The music in the actual stages is totally different: a grungy, loosely-played distortion guitar fest which is fine at first listen, echoing Crazy Taxi, but starts to grate very quickly indeed, unlike that game’s sunshine brilliance. Sadly it’s pretty dire.
The handling is adequate though hardly nuanced, with bonus speed to be earned by leaning forward or backward depending on the terrain, as well as passing close by obstacles without touching them.
You can also steer in the air, which is a big help, and tap A to do up to three tricks, again giving you boost when you land. It moves smoothly and feels decently solid, and there are a few SSX-style grind rails to find, though the snap-to is a bit harsh and riding them doesn’t do much for your time.
You can respawn any time by hitting Y, causing a giant worm to swallow you up from below and spit you out again back at the startline. It’s post-apocalyptic, doncha know?
Interestingly, the races take your best time from the pre-race practice session, and then combine it with your completion time in the race itself, meaning everything counts to some degree, with a one-shot run adding some peril to your banker runs and all-out practice attempts.
This two-session idea works well, and seeing which character steps up to the podium after close runs is tense. It’s good, clean fun.
It’s interesting that microtransactions are rather underplayed in this free-to-play release. In fact, the store is simply called ‘Support us here’ on the main menu, allowing you to purchase two more character types over the basic humanoid, extending to a robot and a sort of desert fox… thing.
There are also some more clothing customisation options to buy, though nothing to give you an actual advantage in the races. It’s all very humble.
The stage design isn’t bad, with some properly dense population of the environments with trees, rocks and other hazards.
Seeking extra tenths here and there is probably something you love and one of the reasons why you’re reading Traxion.GG at this moment, but while there is some fun to be had here chasing the times, the game itself feels diminutive and lacks the thrills and tricks of a dedicated snowboarding game.
And with a few bugs and clunky moments, there’s very little here that isn’t done far better elsewhere, though it is better than the sandboarding in Sonic Adventure. Not bad at all.
|Release date||13th April 2023|
|Available platforms||PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Best played with||Xbox controller|
Full disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.