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What the Car – Quite the change of gear

A fabulously creative spin on the driving genre

Developer: Triband ApS
Price: Free with Apple Arcade subscription
Size: 482 MB
Version: 2.0.1
Platform: iPhone & iPad


Triband’s What the Golf was an early Apple Arcade highlight, taking the basic ‘get object to flag’ premise of golf and experimenting with literally everything else about the sport. The results proved to be as random as they were fun.

For its next trick, the developer has turned its attention to the racing game genre. For ‘get object to flag’ read ‘get car to finish line’.

The game is as much a platformer as a racing game

We’re glad to report that after a brief introductory ‘race’, things start to get very weird and wacky indeed. It starts with your cute little car being encouraged to shed its four wheels (by a cheeky bear, of which the game contains many) and unfurl its very human-like legs, giving your vehicle a distinctive scampering handling model.

From this point on, What the Car indulges in a near-constant stream of free association and wordplay. Here’s how the car handles with lots of legs. Here’s how it handles with a rocket pack. Here’s what happens when it has lots of springs sticking out of it… AND a rocket pack.

It gets even weirder than ‘cars with legs’

There’s a sports-themed section that sees you booting a soccer ball like a pint-sized Rocket League, knocking down bowling pins, and playing an elaborate version of foosball.

Not every level is an unmitigated hit, with some of its throwaway ideas falling somewhat flat. But even when a new mechanic doesn’t quite spark, you’re soon on to something new and brilliant.

There’s a hidden card to collect in every level

Each bite-sized level becomes a unique obstacle course, as much a platforming challenge as a racing one – possibly more so. While the primary goal is to get to the finish line as quickly as possible, with a three-tiered award depending on how fast you are, there’s also a hidden card to collect in each level.

Throw in an overworld hub that’s packed full of delightful interactive elements, alternate paths, and hidden bonuses, and What the Car starts to feel more like a tribute to Mario’s 3D adventures than his karting exploits.

The level creator is really intuitive

There’s a certain Nintendo-like wonder to the game’s level editor, too. This wholly optional element lets you create your own levels from scratch using an intuitive ‘drive to lay down track’ system. These levels can then be submitted online, with the best user-created efforts appearing as bonus missions at regular intervals.

What the Car is every bit as creative, joyful, and distinctive as What the Golf before it. It’s a highly malleable experience, rewarding both absent-minded dabbling and more intensive high-score chasing. In short, it’s one of the best Apple Arcade games in a very long time.