Justice Playthrough #52: KeyCars

It’s the video game version of the most disappointing toy ever!

Page 22, Game 29: KeyCars by Kenney

For this playthrough, I’m not a huge fan of games that are meant to be multi-player. I just wanna play the games at my own speed and not have to worry about corralling my wife to properly evaluate them. Besides, from what I’ve seen, implementation of many-players-one-screen can be a tad spotty. I don’t think you can assume that your average PC gamer has anything more than a keyboard and a mouse, quite honestly. I’ve seen “multiplayer” games that assume you have a multi-controller setup of some sort and … yeah, no.

So if you’re gonna get multiple people on the same screen, you probably need to cram them all onto the same keyboard. That can be awkward.

KeyCars addresses this problem in the most lunk-headedly simple way imaginable: controlling your car takes one key.

Just one.

If your car doesn’t exist yet, pressing a key brings it to life! If it DOES exist, holding down that same key makes it turn right!

That’s it. That’s the game.

Oh, and space bar will spawn a bunch of CPU-controlled vehicles, which collectively have the survival skills of a concussed lemming.

Such chaos. Very game.

The game really does feel like the most disappointing toy from my childhood. I wanted a remote-control car for Christmas, because that shit looked fuckin’ AWESOME. My parents, being broke AF, managed to find something that met the absolute barest possible minimum requirements for the requested toy. When you turned on the car in question, it immediately drove in a straight line. No throttle or anything like it — it would just go straight forward at its top speed, which was not terribly fast. The remote had a single button; hold it down, and the car will suddenly go in REVERSE! But while it’s going in reverse, it turns in a circle!

It’s the lamest, most awkward way to control a vehicle that still technically renders it capable of being directed somewhere.

Just as long as that somewhere was on a perfectly flat surface; carpet was WAY too rough a terrain for this damn thing to handle. Basically, I could sit in the kitchen and bang it off the fridge and the kitchen table chair legs until I got too frustrated by it to bother playing with it any more. Which happened quickly.

A few years later, I asked for ANOTHER remote-control car. I was too young to have the words to request “And could it please not be a total piece of shit? Can it be one of those cars that can, like, go places, and steer, and actually be fun to play with?”

I got the same fucking thing again. Except this one was green.

So, yeah, when your game is reminding me of the most bitterly disappointing ass-tastic toys of the mid 70’s, your game is not putting me in a headspace conducive to a favorable review.

And yet … it almost works, kind of. It doesn’t. But it gets closer than I’d think. One of the big problems is that the collision detection (the point of the game) that determines which car wrecks the other is weirdly arbitrary; I felt like too many collisions in which my car was the clear aggressor wound up with me asploded and the other car unscathed. A larger problem is that the score tracker only shows how many “points” you’ve racked-up since the most recent incarnation of your car spawned. That kinda wrecks any sense of ongoing progress; why is it not showing me a kill/death ratio for each relevant key? That’d be way more fun.

It’d also be a lot more fun if the CPU cars weren’t such flaming imbeciles. Seriously, I don’t want the AI to be Mad Max out there, but when you spawn NPC cars, it’s only a matter of time before the stupid bastards drive off the side of the map on their own. Even when the last car has the arena entirely to itself. Can I get just a little more challenge, please?

It’s silly and chaotic. It feels like with a little more refinement, it’d be fun, too. And what the hell, if you feel like daring your friends to play a 20-player game on your laptop, this will let you say you did it.

So what’s the next one gonna be like?

Page 2, Game 14: Tonight We Riot by Means Interactive

“A revolutionary crowd-based retro brawler”

I assume that the “revolutionary” is more a reference to smashing capitalism and/or chucking tea in the harbor, and not a claim to wildly innovative gameplay.

Given that it’s a RETRO brawler, I’m kinda hoping for the tea, actually.