When I was a child, I had a few cases full of toy cars that I would amuse myself with. Now, the world of the internet adds a new dimension to collecting them with Tracksters. These highly detailed, die-cast models of classic and modern cars come with codes that can be entered online. Tracksters.com is actually a MMOG that allows you to customize and race virtual versions of the cars.
The cars themselves are licensed products of GM, Dodge, and Ford and can be purchased at retail stores for around $15 or cheaper at online stores such as Amazon. Some of the cars available include the ’69 Chevy Camaro, ’05 Ford GT, and ’06 Dodge Charger police car. After setting up an account and entering the included code, you can download the Tracksters program. Yes, it is a whole program that has to be downloaded and installed on the PC. It is not a simple flash game that can be played on a website. Tracksters is a full-blown online experience that allows you to build up your ride and customize it like any other MMO character. Cars can be fitted with functional and cosmetic upgrades that raise their stats (and street cred) by purchasing or earning Trackbucks.
The actual racing experience is not quite as satisfying as playing Burnout or other console racing games. The keyboard controls are a bit awkward and sometimes steering is a challenge. Apparently you can also perform tricks, though the instruction on how to perform these tricks is not crystal clear. Fortunately, you can respawn your car by hitting the R button if you get stuck or start driving the wrong way. Just don’t press it accidentally as it could blow the race.
It’s relatively easy to find a race online. There are a few different servers to connect to and most of them are not typically full. It’s also entertaining to customize your car online and create combinations that aren’t necessarily possible in real life. The main draw of Tracksters is the ability to go from the tangible toy car and extend it to the virtual world. Model cars and childrens’ toys in general have lost their attraction due to the overwhelming amount of digital media available to kids of all ages. By offering a customizable online experience combined with the real object, Tracksters builds that bridge between old and new. While the gameplay could use some improvements, the premise and purpose is worthy. Maybe kids will actually spend more time playing with the toys and their imagination as opposed to sitting in front of a computer screen and getting fed visual entertainment. Not likely…