In the test: Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers - a special kind of iPad racing game

In the test: Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers

Two weeks ago the Osmo PR company sent me the game "Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers". I didn't know much about the game until the package arrived, just watched some marketing videos. But I knew that the game runs on the iPad and that there is a kind of "game station" that also includes elements from "reality" in the game. These game elements are, for example, some Hot Wheels cars and small round cardboard game tiles that can be used to influence the game. Sounds exciting - I thought - that's why I decided to write a review for the game.

The Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers game combines iPad app with real game pieces and figures - an interesting idea!

The Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers game combines iPad app with real game pieces and figures - an interesting idea!

Game pieces, cars, Osmo kit and how it all works together

To set up the Osmo MindRacers Set, you take your iPad and put it in the play station. What surprised me: There was no cable or Bluetooth connection to the station, so I wondered how the iPad "knows" what is happening on the gaming station.

The technical solution is a really ingenious idea from the game developers, because a red plastic piece with a built-in mirror is stuck on top of the iPad. This allows the iPad's Facetime camera to look a little "down" and analyze what is happening on the field.

For example, the iPad recognizes whether you have started the car, whether you are pressing the gas button or a player has thrown a token onto the field. I find the solution to analyze the field with the iPad camera and thereby trigger commands in the app to be quite innovative and I have never seen it like this before.

The set also includes a box with six different Hot Wheels vehicles that should satisfy all tastes. From an elegant sports car to a small miniature car to a kite on wheels, there is something for everyone here.

On this product photo you can see all the things that are in the kit. The iPad is of course not included at the price of just under 60 EUR.

On this product photo you can see all the things that are in the kit. The iPad is of course not included at the price of just under 60 EUR.

The Osmo apps

Several apps can be found in the app store under the name "Osmo". One is the "parent app", so to speak, which in turn can start the other apps. However, these must be installed individually. There is a separate game app for every game set sold under the Osmo label, but it is accessed from the parent app.

In the parent or main app, you create a profile for each child who wants to play with the apps. In this way, the game saves are saved and every child can unlock their own successes. In the Osmo MindRacers app, for example, these are the many racetracks that you can gradually clear.

[appbox app store id1147246625]

The main Osmo app is the control center that is used to start all of the individual Osmo games.

The main Osmo app is the control center that is used to start the individual Osmo game apps.

The course of the game - this is how you drive the races

Once you have set up the playing field, installed the apps, created the profile, then you put the Hot Wheels racing car of your choice on the starting place. Of course, you can either go alone against a computer opponent or against another person.

In the app you first get to a map on which you can see the unlocked and the still closed areas on which the racetracks are located. Here you either choose between a race in which you drive against each other or in which you drive together. If this is done in cooperative mode, the next race tracks are unlocked.

The MindRacers iPad set is built to a very high quality and the buttons look very robust.

The MindRacers iPad set is built to a very high quality and the buttons look very robust.

Cooperative mode - perfect for learning!

What is required in the races against each other should be clear: whoever crosses the finish line first, wins. It looks different with the cooperative races. Here you have to achieve a certain number of points together, which you can earn through "special moves". You can give orders to your car through certain playing cards that you throw on the field. For example, a short boost, a rocket shot at the other or a spin maneuver with which you throw the rocket back at the opponent.

in Sondermove, for example, you would drive next to your teammate and then sweep him off the track with a spin. There are points for such actions in the cooperative mode - even if that doesn't sound very cooperative, you usually only manage the level if you meet each other and in this way enable many of the moves. Egomaniacs have little chance there. The more of these special moves you handle together, the more points there are on the joint points account.

For example, on some racetracks there are obstacles and ski jumps that you have to cross or jump over with a boost. You are pretty busy throwing your playing cards onto the playing field at the right moment in order to steer your car.

The game coupons are stowed directly in a small flap so that they are not lost - a very nice detail.

The game coupons are stowed directly in a small flap so that they are not lost - a very nice detail.

I have to say that it was quite overwhelming at first, although I've been used to computer games since I was a child. My daughter (8 years old) came up with the idea that we might just leave out the game tiles for attack and defense and initially only drive with boost tiles. And I have to say: that was a very good idea! If you then play cooperatively and master the route together with the other, you learn to play with the tiles much more frustration-free than if you drive the race with all options and a malicious opponent.

If you want a little insight into the game, you can watch the following video. There you can see very well what the display looks like on the iPad and how the kids throw the game tokens:

 

Is the game fun?

Yes it definitely does. My daughter also said "This is a cool game!". She played on her own against the computer for quite a while and even won a few times. We certainly spent two or three hours playing the game together, but then we drove through the entire race tracks and satisfied our desire to race for the time being. You can play against each other or cooperatively in all races and try to surpass the previous maximum number of points, but unfortunately that doesn't always motivate you to play.

After a good two to three hours, we had unlocked all the racetracks - both in cooperative and competitive mode

After a good two to three hours, we had unlocked all the racetracks - both in cooperative and competitive mode

What could be better?

While playing, I noticed a few things that the game's developers could easily tweak in the app to make things more exciting. It may be that some of this is already being planned, but according to the current status, these points are not available:

  • The included Hot Wheels cars all have the same features in the game. It would be nicer if, for example, the dragon car had a special attack, the sports car could have more boost and the little knobby car could perhaps ram. At the moment it doesn't matter which car you take - it is recognized as this model and displayed in the game, but there are no special features of the cars.
  • More playing cards: There are currently four different cards in the game: Boost, Attack, Defense (Spin) and a "super card" which "reinforces" the other cards when played in addition. That was a good basis, but to give the game more variety, I would have built in even more options.
  • More racetracks: I think there are around 20 racetracks that you can drive. That sounds like a lot, but you can play the entire card with your child in two to three hours. It would be great if the app got regular updates that expand these racetracks or introduce new features. This would ensure long-term gaming fun.
  • The recognition of the game tiles is surprisingly good, but unfortunately not perfect. I guess every 20th to 30th time the iPad doesn't notice one of the game tiles - even if the playing field is perfectly lit. That sounds rare, but it causes frustration in children when you actually want to jump over a ramp with a boost, but then fall into the abyss because the technology fails ... maybe the recognition rate can be increased here.
The MindRacers set includes six different Hot Wheels cars (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

The MindRacers set includes six different Hot Wheels cars (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

My conclusion on the Osmo Hot Wheels MindRacers Kit

I like Hot Wheels and I like racing games on the iPad where you can attack your opponent and use extras. The MindRacers game combines both as an iPad game for one or two children. I think the idea behind the control is very successful because it is something new. From this point of view, there is nothing to complain about about the game.

I think it's a bit of a shame that the Hot Wheels don't actually have a real function. If you start your car with the button at the start of the race, the equivalent on the iPad will of course drive off, but the real Hot Wheels car just drives down the ramp, in the play station around a corner and then stops at the edge. As an adult, it seems as if the Hot Wheels are not really necessary because they actually have no function other than to transmit the choice of car to the iPad. I think the manufacturer probably thought that the kids would play with the Hot Wheels without the iPad and that they would not be "free".

Such nice different hot wheelers - but unfortunately they all have the same properties in the game.

Such nice different hot wheelers - but unfortunately they all have the same properties in the game.

If the developers add something with new levels and a few features such as different properties for the different cars, then the game is worth its price of just under 60 EUR. It is currently a recommendation for Hot Wheels fans who also play with the cars outside of the Osmo MindRacer - and for parents who are technology enthusiasts and can look forward to an innovative control system.

The little things show that the kit is well thought out. Here is the lead-through for the charging cable, which is important so that you can play longer games without battery problems (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

The little things show that the kit is well thought out. Here is the lead-through for the charging cable, which is important so that you can play longer games without battery problems (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

I think the price is okay for the set, because it is really very stable and well thought-out. All the individual parts can be stowed somewhere and even the cars have a box in which you can park them until you play with them again. I find the age recommendation for children from 7 years justified. I think younger children might still have problems with the large number of game tiles and the right timing. Even I had to practice several races before it worked out halfway. ;-)

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Update: Feedback from Osmo's PR

After the Osmo PR company saw my article, they sent me the following supplement in response to my suggestions for improvement, which I will pass on to you directly:

Regarding the updates: Yes, Osmo is actually working continuously on further development, so that larger updates keep coming back from time to time. The advantage of the Mindracers game, too, is that the base is there. So you already have them for the supplementary games.

The supplementary games we are talking about here are the following packages that you can order without the Osmo base if you already have the base:

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Update 17.3.2019/XNUMX/XNUMX: Feedback from my reader Dietmar

I received an email from Dietmar yesterday who tried the game for a while. You can read what he thinks about it here:

The game itself is not badly done and the "launch pad" for the vehicles is a nice gimmick. The game itself - and, above all, continuing to play on the tablet - is still a lot of fun for days and weeks if it weren't for the only drawback from my point of view: the pure control with the tokens!

Perhaps also because I always want to have a joystick etc. at hand somewhere or at least miss the tablet (touch) control - I come from the “C64” generation. However, sometimes "testing" something new has its charm.

In any case, my son likes the game (especially because of the cars), although I think that at almost 5 years of age he is quickly overwhelmed - that's why the age is 7 years and older.

All in all, I can say: a successful game with a new concept (launch pad, original cars, etc.) that only "falls asleep" after a long time, but is easy to stow away due to the size and the tablet and can be reactivated quickly at any time!

Thank you for your feedback, Dietmar!

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