Cleaning up the streets with Car Toons

Car Toons is a new iOS game from German developer FDG Entertainment. The game is a paid app, available in separate iPhone and iPad editions.

Car Toons is a physics puzzle game based around sentient emergency services vehicles and their attempts to clear the streets of “bad cars.” Each level challenges players to achieve several objectives in order to earn three stars: remove all “bad cars” from the screen, park all the “good” vehicles in the appropriate parking spaces and do so as quickly as possible. Controls are very simple: players tap on a “good” vehicle to start it, tap again to stop. Certain on-screen blocks may be removed by tapping on them, others must be removed by hitting switches with the vehicles and others still are affected by physics. As the game progresses, the player gains access to various special abilities such as being able to turn the cars through 180 degrees or make use of a “super jump.” Each of these new mechanics is introduced gradually over the course of the game, but without being overly patronizing to the player. Players will have to work out special techniques such as “weighing down” wobbly structures with the heavy fire truck rather than being told outright what the solution is.

The game exudes charm. The anthropomorphic vehicles have a great deal of visual character without taking the easy approach and ripping off the characters in Pixar’s Cars movie. Text-based dialog that the various vehicles spout before and after a level is usually appropriate to the challenge which has just been completed, and the “good” vehicles tend to respond to the taunting of the “bad cars” with snappy one-liners that are enough to coax at least a wry smile out of all but the most hard-hearted player. The backing soundtrack has a pleasing ’80s feel to it, too, giving the whole game an infectiously cheerful, energetic feel.

The game is a paid app, but features additional monetization in the form of a level skip mechanic. Using one allows the player to bypass a level, though they do not earn stars for completing the challenge and the level is marked with a “tow truck” icon until it is completed normally. Five of these “tow trucks” are provided to the player for free and may be acquired in additional quantities via in-app purchase. For players who simply want the facility to skip levels whenever they please, an “infinite” option is available for $4.99; otherwise, tow trucks may be purchased in packs of 5 for $0.99 or 15 for $1.99.

The game is primarily a solitary experience but features Game Center compatibility for a degree of social play. A single leaderboard ranks players according to their overall times, while a bank of achievements rewards players for completing various milestones in the campaign as well as accomplishing specific challenges such as flipping a “bad car” or squeezing two vehicles into a single parking space.

Car Toons is an excellent game that provides an interesting twist on the often-stale physics puzzle genre. The visual charm and strong characterization will help keep players coming back for more, and if FDG ensures the game is regularly updated with new content it could well have a hit on its hands. It deserves to enjoy some success, and bodes well for the future of this developer.

Car Toons is not yet ranked on our tracking service AppData due to its recent release. Check back shortly to follow its progress through the App Store charts.