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Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone
19

Dream Track Nation Review: Race from Texas to the moon on Windows Phone

Dream Track Nation and Tiny Plane (two games from Canadian indie developer PowPow Games) arrived on Xbox Windows Phone simultaneously a few months back. Electronic Arts’ indie label Chillingo publishes both games, which originated as Nokia exclusives but are now available to all users.

Seeing as how we reviewed Tiny Plane last week, I thought it only fitting that we take a critical lens to its brother Dream Track Nation as well. Is this physics-based racer really a dream or more of a nightmare? Read on to find out.

Race to the flag

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

Dream Track Nation falls into an uncommon genre: the 2-dimensional side-view racing game. The most similar Xbox Windows Phone game is Miniclip’s iStunt 2, but other than the viewpoint, these two titles could hardly be more different. The chief difference being that this one is way more “indie,” which we’ll explain as we go along.

In Dream Track Nation, players race from the starting flag to the finish flag in large, fanciful courses. The tracks are full of twists, turns, loops, and bottomless pits to contend with. Your vehicle can survive all manner of crashes and flips, but fall out of the course and you fail the race.

Two ways to play

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

The game offers four unique environments to race through: Texas, Alaska, New York, and the Moon. Each location has 20 tracks, for a total of 80 different tracks. The four areas all have their own background tunes as well.

These tracks can be played in two separate modes: Time Trial and Star Hunt. Switch between them with the buttons at the top of the area selection screen. Unlocking tracks in one mode does not unlock them in the other; each mode’s progress remains separate from the other.

In Time Trial, the objective is to reach the red finish flag as quickly as possible. Depending on your performance, you’ll receive a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Annoyingly, the game doesn’t tell you what medal you got at the end of the race. Instead, players have to back out to the level select menu in order to see their medals. Tiny Plane suffered from some UI issues too, but the medal issue here interrupts the flow of the game more.

Initially Dream Track Nation launched with just the Time Trial Mode. But Star Hunt was added shortly thereafter in an update. Star Hunt allows players to explore tracks without worrying about a timer. The goal is still to reach the red flag, but players also need to collect stars hidden throughout each track. The number of stars you collect determines which medal you receive.

Rough riding

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

The controls are a bit more complex than iStunt 2’s, but still really simple. Touching anywhere on the right side of the screen causes your car/truck/etc. to move to the right, while pressing left causes the vehicle to move in reverse and to the left. Tilting the phone controls the angle of the vehicle, so you can adjust its rotation in mid-air in order to land more smoothly.

Of course, these dream tracks are filled with bumps and situations that will prevent you from landing smoothly at times, causing the vehicle to flip over. In fact, sometimes the vehicle flips onto its back for no reason because the tilt controls are extremely wonky. Getting your ride back on its wheels ends up being kind of random, which stinks. I’d happily trade the tilt controls for a button to instantly set the vehicle right.

Physics for dummies

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

The semi-busted flipping foreshadows an even worse problem: the physics. Dream Track Nation is a physics-based game, so naturally its physics are kind of important. Unfortunately they fall well short of expectations. Hitting obstacles at odd angles can actually cause the vehicle’s and its wheels to wrap AROUND the obstacle. Once that happens, you pretty much have to restart the level.

The fourth set of tracks takes place on the moon, but all four areas essentially feel like they’re in space. Vehicles bounce and float around the tracks unpredictably and unrealistically, generally limiting players’ controls and slowing them down. The game’s far from unplayable, but it feels like an alpha version as opposed to a finished release.

Garage

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

Whereas the additional vehicles in Tiny Plane cost gold coins to unlock, you’ll gain vehicles automatically as you complete levels in Dream track Nation. Players start out in cars but eventually gain an assortment of trucks and motorcycles to drive too.

The vehicles seem to have different stats, but they’re hidden from the player. Generally, small rides like bikes go faster while larger trucks are more stable. Stability is way more important in this game, so I wouldn’t bother with the motorcycles.

Track editor

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

One of Dream Track Nation’s coolest features is undoubtedly the ability to create tracks and share them online. The only other Xbox Windows Phone game I know of that allows players to share their created content is Amazing Alex.

The actual level editor interface, however, is about as intuitive as completing a tax form. Players will have to figure out what all the buttons do and how to move objects around on their own, because the game sure doesn’t offer any help. You do at least get an Achievement for creating your first track.

Confusing or no, some people have obviously figured the editor out because you can find a fair quantity of tracks to try. They download almost instantly, too. To play your own custom or downloaded tracks, look to the bottom of the area select screen.

Achievements

Dream Track Nation for Windows Phone

Whereas Tiny Plane’s Achievements are time consuming and grindy, Dream Track Nation’s should only take about four hours or so to get. Several where broken at launch, but PowPow Games commendably fixed them very quickly with an update.

The vast majority of Achievements involve completing every track and winning gold medals on every track. You’ll need to decide whether to go for the golds in Time Trial or Star Hunt mode, because all of the golds need to be earned in the same mode for the final Achievement.

Assuming you stick to Time Trial, the completion times can be kind of strict. The busted physics and tilting often screwed up my runs. But tracks are only about a minute long, so retrying them multiple times won’t be too much of an ordeal. Sometimes you’ll even get lucky and grab a gold on your first try.

Overall Impression

I hate to be hard on a game, but it’s tough to do anything else when a title’s core mechanics don’t work right. Dream Track Nation is a short and simple game hampered by terrible, terrible physics. Maybe they worked great on iOS and suffered in the conversion to Windows Phone. The game would certainly be a lot more fun if vehicles didn’t flip over so much and float around in the air when they should be falling.

This version’s saving grace is its relatively easy Achievements. Any game that can be completed in less than five hours is worth a look for Achievement hunters, regardless of quality. And maybe the physics won’t bug you as much as they did me, who knows?

  • Dream Track Nation – Windows Phone 7 or 8 – 23 MB – $2.99 – Store Link

QR: Dream Track Nation

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Comments

There are 19 comments. Sign in to comment

rafael33379 says:

Today xbox game is Order & Chaos from Gameloft.

No thanks. Not a big RPG fan and not at £5+
Lost money on my msp turning into real money today so no thanks MS

K_lando says:

ah, never mind.  I just Bing'd it.
http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/07/10/transition-from-microsoft-points-is-raising-game-prices
 
Oh, you know... UK and Europeans always complaining they never get anything first and always left out...  well there you go! LMFAO.

Paul Acevedo says:

The Xbox 360 is in the process of switching from MS Points to real currency. Unfortunately for people in the UK, the regional currency prices on XBLA games there are higher than the previous MS Point prices.

Also, Evil Monkey just likes to complain about everything. :P

SayMehName says:

Like the art, reminds me of Lil Bill

walter1832 says:

The theme to that show has the best lyrics.  Just keep saying  "Little Bill".

I was the first in the world to complete dream track nation :-) thanks for the review, worth 0.99 in my opinion.

mr_808 says:

Ugh...  Why does it seem like every WP game is made for kids?  The game situation on WP has really got me down lately.

Vb2012 says:

Lol +1 where are the true games :(

Paul Acevedo says:

The same game is available for iOS and Android, so that's not a fair complaint.

HM02 says:

coughhalospartanassault

sasukeluffy says:

*cough* Order & Chaos *cough*

GearDoGi says:

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/order-chaos/be84b96c-e330-4613-8c1e-b882ae9ea369

***********************************************************************************************************************************************
SORRY FOR POSTING THAT IN EVERY WP GAME POST BUT MAYBE WE COULD IMPROVE THE GAMING SECTOR OF WP THAT WAY!
As i already said  I can suggest that Windows Phone need to provide the xbox branding to developers like iOS do with the GameCenter and recently Androind announced the Google Play Game Service that includes leaderboards and achievements
I would suggest to give the chance to any developer to apply his title for the xbox branding and make the xbox certification progress more lax and more fast!
To do so differentiate the point system of wp titles with the Xbx360/one titles.For example make the xbox wp titles give you WPGS(gamer score) and be a different section (WP section) on the xbox account and not entangle with the point system and games of XBOX 360 and ONE!!!
I don't think that this is hard or complicated to been for a corporation like MS.
Please vote for my suggestion so that it maybe reaches MS windowsphone.uservoice.com/.../4163745-windows-phone-xbox-live-more-something-like-gamece
Every mobile phone gamer needs this!!!

 

coip says:

I love that Xbox achievements are unified across Microsoft's platforms (Xbox, Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone). I think it's a positive for them. Xbox achievements are an important thing to gamers and Microsoft being able to reward those gamers who also play games on their Surfaces or Windows Phones, something they cannot (with a few exceptions) do on iOS or Android, provides incentive for some people to buy Surfaces and Windows Phones. If Xbox certification gets too lax, this would undermine that quality control assurance (in  my opinion, it is too lax already: Dream Track Nation shouldn't be an Xbox-certified game) of the brand. Moreover, by separating the Xbox achievements of Xbox 360/One and Windows 8, RT, and Windows Phone, that is a missed opportunity to entice hardcore Xbox gamers to leave their Androids and iPhones behind and pick up a Windows Phone. I cannot tell you the number of times that friends have seen my  Windows Phone, noticed it has Xbox games on it and then got interested in the phone, or how many of my Xbox friends, on their Xboxes, have noticed my 'recent game activity' including achievement points from Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 and commenting on how cool that is. Microsoft unifying the Xbox brand across all platforms will help all those platforms by expanding the brand recognition. Xbox console users already have an 'advantage', per se, of higher achievement points. That's good enough.

GearDoGi says:

There are also games tha could be XBOX branded and include achievements like where's my ..... franchise of disney 10tons games and more.It's better to have a huge variety (including bad games) of xbox branded games to choose from tha a strict and poor xbox branding system like what we are having now.I don't play many non xbox popular games like tennis in the face,where's my water/perry/mickey,king oddball on my HTC 8x cause i prefer play them on my ipod because they provide achievements and achievements give motivation to gamers to challenge their skills or just have fun and entertain themselves!

Nakazul says:

Thnx for the links.

sukimtk says:

why is allmost every game nokia exclusive ????
:(
i mena i would not buy this game but some ppl would :/
this shit might destroy wp8 because ppl will have only option to buy nokia (not a bad thing, but ppl want choices ) ;/

Paul Acevedo says:

About 20 games are Nokia exclusives while 130+ games are not. As for the reasons why Nokia exclusives aren't bad, we went through all that last week. Let's all agree not to complain about them again because it's awfully repetitive.

$3 and broken core mechanics? I have to pass on this. Maybe if it hits the Red Stripe aisle or goes on sale for $0.99, I will consider it.