Speed Racing is a competitive game of paper dolls

speed racing on facebook - pimp my rideSpeed Racing is a car racing game developed by John Hwang’s TripMonger (now part of Zynga) that has all of the tell-tale signs of a viral game. The game’s economy is based purely on driving new sign-ups for the game – in order to obtain parts to win races, you need to gain points; the only way to gain points is to invite friends and have them join. Like many of the viral games out there, the only way to succeed is to help perpetuate the game. But while other games like Vampires and Pirates seem to perpetuate themselves without offering much gameplay, Speed Racing has a little bit more to offer.

Speed Racing is a bit like playing dress up with paper dolls. You can dress up the dolls in a variety of costumes, but in the end you’ll still just have a boring piece of paper that doesn’t do anything. In a similar way, Speed Racing allows you to “pimp” your ride, but you’ll see your car actually race just as soon as your paper doll comes to life and does the Macarena.

Speed Racing invites players to customize their little 2-D cars with paint jobs, rims, and various accessories that will help performance. The game screen has several tabs that allow you to buy new upgrades, customize your car’s appearance, or race it. Since I figured that the point of the game was to race it, I chose to try that first.

The most irritating thing about Speed Racing is that there is no actual animation. The “Racing” element of the game is not displayed on screen; instead, you are informed through text if you win or lose based purely on the stats of your car. You can only race your friends, so if you have only one friend who installed the game, you’re stuck racing him/her until you invite more friends.

speed racing facebook buy upgradesThe “Pimp my Ride” and “Buy Upgrades” tabs are more promising for longer game play. The level of customization is deep, and gets deeper the more points you have (you can buy new cars, gadgets, etc). But you can only get those upgrades through invites, so if you haven’t done that, your paper doll is going to look pretty naked.

With so much of the game tied to invitations and so little focus on actual gameplay, the game gets a very low score on the experience side. Yet, the game is popular because people are competitive and like the idea of being able to customize their own digital car. Races can happen even when you’re not logged in, so you can find out that you’ve beaten your friends several times when you check back in on the car.

Similarly, being informed you’ve been challenged and lost several times will push you to invite more friends, spruce up your model, and keep playing. The developers astutely tap into a competitive gameplay element that is especially present with internet users, though again I wish they would give visual representation of the competitiveness.

The game could be improved vastly by allowing players to actually race their cars. Similarly, simply allowing players to race anyone (and not just friends) would increase playing time and the likelihood the game will not be deleted just as quickly as it was installed.

Developer’s Score: 6/10

Gameplay Score: 1/10

Viral Level: 9/10