Tiny Turbo Cars
Everyone loves racing toy cars – especially when they use remote controls! Tiny Turbo Cars, designed by 4 Brains 4 Games and Hjalmar Hach, aims to capture that feeling of a remote control toy race with some interesting mechanics.
Published by Horrible Guild, Tiny Turbo Cars is best for ages 10 and up and plays in about 40 minutes.
Players line up five boards to play Tiny Turbo Cars: the starting board, three random Track boards, and the finish line.
Make sure every player has their necessary starting equipment: three batteries, a controller, a racecar and matching racecar tile.
Create a pile of Smile tokens with “happiest” on top and “saddest” on the bottom. Keep some Energy Shield tokens where everyone can reach them.
It’s time to race!
All players program their upcoming movements on their controller – a 4×4 sliding puzzle. Only the two middle lines of the puzzle will be used for the race – try to get those eight pieces in the best order for your racecar!
When you’ve finished your program, call out loud and grab the top Smile token from the pile. When only the saddest Smile token is left, players start a ten second countdown for the last player to finish their programming.
Then it’s time for everyone to move their car according to their controller pattern. The player who finished their program first has the happiest Smile token – they move first.
Cars may move forward, backward, diagonally, or even jump – but they can also get stopped by obstacles, slowed by carpet, or slip on wet floor.
If your car takes damage from hitting an obstacle or another car, you’ll lose battery power. If you lose all your batteries, lay the car flat. You’ll use your next three movements/actions to refill its battery power before you can start moving again.
When everyone has finished their turn, it’s time for another round. Shuffle up your neighbor’s sliding puzzle without looking at it. Then everyone starts programming again.
After several rounds, someone will cross the finish line! Finish the round. If more than one car crossed the finish line, the one that went farthest is the winner.
We’ve talked about action programming before. It’s a mechanic that fits well with moving “cars” across a board – we’ve seen this in games like BIGFOOT: Roll and Smash and Quirky Circuits.
We’ve also talked about the value of board games in developing strong computational thinking skills. Tiny Turbo Cars does this too – while including time pressure.
But the real stand-out in Tiny Turbo Cars is the controller.
The sliding puzzle controller is easy to understand. The symbols only take a moment’s study before players are ready to go. But the puzzle requires a light touch. This isn’t always easy when rushing to organize the symbols in the right sequence. I got frustrated when trying to move them quickly. Slow down and be more gentle and deliberate!
Racing Inside the House
Speaking of cool components and art, there is a lot to love in this game. All six racetrack boards (four Tracks, Start, and Finish) are double sided, offering a variety of rooms for your race. Every room is full of books, rugs, toys, and even water – all of which will affect your ability to race.
I also appreciate that Tiny Turbo Cars includes a catch-up mechanic. When all racers have finished a round, you receive an “energy shield” for each car that is ahead of yours. You can discard these instead of losing a battery, or use them to boost your movement at the very end of your turn.
There are eight racers, each with a unique power and a uniquely-shaped car token. I love all the reminders that these are supposed to be small toys.
Unfortunately, the game only supports four players. I’d love to play with six or eight and embrace the chaos, Mario Kart style.
Tiny Turbo Cars seems to play best with kids ages 10-16. Every time we’ve brought it out with our kids’ teenage friends, they love it. They’re old enough to understand the mechanics and have patience for the length of the game, but young enough to really enjoy the “toy car” theme.
We definitely recommend Tiny Turbo Cars for those who love the idea of racing tiny cars across the floor – but don’t really want to get down on their hands and knees anymore. It’s not a strategic board game in the classic sense, but it’s an absolute blast that will leave everyone cheering and groaning as their cars blow past the finish line… or spin out and crash.
Find Tiny Turbo Cars on Amazon or ask for it at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Tiny Turbo Cars from Horrible Guild (via Flat River Games) for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Tiny Turbo Cars
Age Range: 10+
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 40 minutes