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Do you remember slot car racing? Back in the 70’s it was the rage in toy racing cars and every kid had to have a set but the craze died down in the late 70’s. Miniature cars raced on tracks with “slots” on them and the challenge was to make your car go as fast as possible without crashing off the track. You don’t control the direction of the car but rather the speed via a simple hand-held simple trigger controller that regulates the speed of the car motor. Sounds simple but it can be very challenging.

In a world where you can race and tweak digital representations of real world cars and drive on digital versions of real world racing tracks in ultra-realistic car racing games, it is hard to imagine how slot car racing can make a comeback. Anki Overdrive blurs the line between model car racing, remote controlled cars, artificial intelligence, robotics and video games with a truly unique concept.

First of all, the Anki Overdrive starter kit comes with 2 cars and magnetic track pieces. The latest version of the system lets you build and customize your very own battle track. You can also expand the size of your track by adding on additional track sections.

You steer and control the car speed using the iOS device, tilting to steer like in most car racing games. This is similar to playing with an RC car but like a slot car, the Anki car stays on the track, guided by sensors on the car and invisible coding on the track. The car knows exactly where it is located on the track. The cars zip along at a pretty fast pace and without the help from the system to keep it on the track, it would be very difficult to keep the cars on track.

Now for the AI and robotics part. The cars can also drive by themselves and as you play with the game, the cars learn and improve their driving skills. The AI gets smarter and as you improve your driving skills, the AI keeps up with you and keeps the game challenging. Up to 4 cars can race on the same track and it can be a mix between human and robot drivers.

Last but not least, winning races gives rewards you with credits that can be used to improve the capability of your car. This adds an RPG element to the game. Upgrades range from improvements such as higher speed and better braking to weapons which gives Anki Overdrive kind of a Mario Kart vibe.
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