FIRST LOOK: Family Gamer TV test drives Anki Overdrive

Andy Robertson

By Andy Robertson

February 10th 2015 at 2:01PM
UPDATED February 24th 2015 at 11:57AM
FIRST LOOK: Family Gamer TV test drives Anki Overdrive

Family Gamer TV's Andy Robertson checks out the latest innovation from robotics/toy/video game firm, Anki.

Having tracked with Anki Drive over the last year in the UK I was interested to visit the developer and test out the new Anki Overdrive system.

Like the original, this uses self steering robotic cars to race around a printed circuit. The cars keep themselves on track so that players use a Smartphone app to change lane, shoot and find the perfect racing line.

In a family this works really well, not only because you don’t have to be forever be picking up cars and putting them back in their slots like Scalecrtix (for one thing there are no slots) but also because children can race against the computer drivers or each other.

Unlike the original, Anki Overdrive moves from a single pre-printed mat to clip together circuits more like Scalectrix, although again with some subtle differences. Because the cars are self powered the track connections are much easier and simply clip together with magnets. Also, without that restraint of metal slots the tracks can be flexed and bent so that routes up and down furniture are not a problem.

This may seem like a small change but it will makes a big difference to families.

Firstly there is the extended fun of creating your own circuits before racing on them. Additionally you don’t need as much space. UK homes sometimes struggled to accommodate the roll out mat and certainly needed to push back furniture to make enough space. Now the track can be routed to fit in around the space available.

The Anki Overdrive Starter Kit provides 10 pieces of track that can make around eight different circuit designs. Additional track elements can be added in the form of extensions. More than just additional straights and curves, these also provide considerable novelty.

The full list of expansion kits includes:

  • Launch Kit comprises take off and landing pieces.
  • 180 Kit  automatically turns cars around and send them the other way. This not only opens up the possibility of non-continuous layouts but also different game types that don't relay on continuous circuits.
  • Collision Kit adds some circuit complexity but also the possibility of different routes as the Anki cars can be instructed to take the left or right path. Again the implications for new game types here are most exciting.
  • Speed Kit maxes your speed to try and outrun opponents or take aim and knock out the competition on these long straightaways.
  • Corner Kit helps you take turns at top speed. Or blast opponents before they disappear around the bend.
  • Rails Kit helps you slingshot into straightaways or drive the fight into corners. Guardrails ensure the chaos of battle stays on the tracks.
  • Elevation Kit takes the battle to another level. Open up crazy track possibilities with hills, bridges, underpasses and more.
  • Bank Turn Kit gives you corners at faster speeds and pull some serious G-forces.

While Anki has never been a cheap product, and Anki Overdrive maintains the same price point, the addition of these make-your-own tracks along with increased compatibility across iOS and Android devices (that can now race together) make this a much more appealing proposition and is likely to increase its user base considerably when it launches in September.