Racing has almost always been about the present or the future. Even if some games feature a few classic cars, they're a very small portion of the lineup of available vehicles. Cranks & Goggles aims for something different, as it is concentrates solely on classic racing vehicles.
By classic, we mean late 1920s and early 1930s style cars, the long front style that some may associate with Monopoly. The controls are pretty simple, as you only have acceleration and braking in association with steering. The cars are simple in that respect, even going as far as to not have handbrakes. Since the game is presented in an overhead view similar to the classic Micro Machines, one would assume that the title would behave similarly.
In truth, Cranks & Goggles is actually a challenge to control due to the pretty realistic physics system. Turns are more perilous since the amount of drift you can cause by taking a turn too quickly is pretty wide. It can be pretty easy to fishtail out of a turn and flip over the car if you're going much too fast or trying to correct it poorly. The game also presents plenty of opportunities to get yourself stuck; boxes and trees litter the sides and refuse to guide you back on the track with a speed penalty if you run into them.
The mastery of the physics system is essential to winning races, in part because it seems as if the difficulty level doesn't scale at all. The opposition is set to race on the highest level, and the game doesn't seem keen on giving you chances to catch up. Take a turn wrong, flip over or get stuck, and you're pretty much done since catching up is impossible no matter how good your car is. This doesn't happen late in the game but very early on, forcing you to come to grips with the racing system if you want a chance at any placement beyond last.
Currently, the game has two modes, and both look to be complete. Career mode gives you a number of races and championships based on your four car classes, and each of those classes has a healthy number of cars in the lineup. The game gives you an option to upgrade each car, but that is pretty problematic since you're only given two upgrade steps and no idea of what gets improved until you commit to the upgrade. Quick Race also thrives on simplicity, as it immediately selects your car, class, and track once you get in, so getting the combination of factors you want is a complete luck of the draw.
Presentation-wise, the game is simple but still looks good. Graphically, the title has sort of an art deco look, with some nice soft colors draped over low-polygon environments. It isn't pushing the boundaries of any machine, but the simplicity looks quite good in motion. From the audio side, the cars sound good, but ambient noises, like the braying of farm animals, make everything rather quaint. The roaring '20s music also fits well, as it sounds like it was filtered through an old record player — but without the pops the medium is known for. It sounds quite good on its own if you're into the genre, so don't be surprised if you want to use this as a soundtrack for other things.
Surprisingly, Cranks & Goggles is pretty complete for being an Early Access title. It's currently missing a multiplayer mode as well as some things like leaderboards and a Time Trial mode. Due to the viewpoint used, it'll be interesting to see if the title goes offline, online, or both. The issues mentioned earlier can be a concern to potential players, but with the progress the programmers have made thus far and their willingness to address issues, there's hope that Cranks & Goggles will be solid for its proposed December 2016 release.
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