At first glance, Anki Overdrive might look like your old slot car systems that took 2 hours to assemble and 3 seconds for the cars to go flying off. Thankfully, looks can be deceiving. The Overdrive track is flexible and magnetic, which makes assembly a snap and ensures the cars never swerve off. Well, magnets and the fact that each car is an intelligent mini computer with its own personality and driving style capable of reading the road and running you off of it. That’s where it gets really good. Their AI is designed to feel like you’re racing another human, so you’ll still feel like your kid is dominating you on the track long after they’ve gone to bed and you’ve stayed up being defeated by the world’s smartest Matchbox car.
Gameplay is controlled via an iOs- and Android-compatible smartphone app, which allows users to customize their car’s speed, defenses, and weapons. You read that right. Racers collect and deploy virtual weapons against their foes that manifest in real life by slowing down competitors or blowing them clean off the track. It’s as close as your kid will ever come to knowing the feeling of a direct hit with a red shell in Mario Kart, only you won’t be able to frustratedly mash the ‘Reset’ button.
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Game modes include King Of The Hill, Time Trial, and Overdrive Tournament, and the track can be configured in a variety of ways, including jumps that the cars can actually clear (again, unlike your old slot system). The Overdrive starter kit costs $150 and includes 2 cars and 10 pieces of curved and straight track. Additional cars cost $50 and track add-ons will soon be available as well. The whole system is backward compatible, so even if you already bought Drive, you have absolutely no excuse not to jump on the sequel. This may be the only time you rush to put your kid behind the wheel.