Review: RC Club review – An AR toy racing car set

What’s the difference between a game and a toy? It’s a simple, one-word answer: rules.

Both games and toys encourage play, but games introduce a structure to that play. They give your toys vital context.

There isn’t a ‘Toy’ section of the iOS App Store, but RC Club really belongs in one rather than the Games section into which it’s been placed.

Don’t get RC with me

RC Club essentially gives you a virtual remote controlled car to play with – or four, to be precise. Each of these machines is realistically rendered onto your iPhone’s display, with simple virtual controls enabling you to zip around.

The physics are largely spot on. Depending on which car (or truck) you choose, you can execute screechy donuts or turbo-charged dashes – the latter of which is perfect for gaining air off ramps.

Those ramps need to be placed yourself. There are various elevated track elements on offer in the default pack, including half-pipe-like wall climbs, loop-de-loops and more.

The Quantum Pack, meanwhile, introduces magnets, black holes and zero gravity bubbles that have various interesting effects on your ride.

AR, Jim-lad

The key twist here is that everything plays out on your living room floor – or anywhere you have a reasonable expanse of flat surface.

Yes, this is an AR game that’s been built using Apple’s ARKit. Unfortunately, the effect is only partially successful.

An initial set-up phase proves fairly effective in setting the playing field and letting you burn around your local environment. In particular, it’s impressive how you have to move your phone to keep the car in view, and how that car scales accordingly.

Unfortunately, the illusion is shattered the moment your virtual monster truck keeps driving through your lounge wall like it’s just a different carpet pattern.

Toying around

The biggest issue with RC Club, however, is the one we touched upon in the intro. It’s just not a game.

There’s a critical lack of structure provided to your driving antics. You can call this a simulation or a sandbox, but without some kind of incentive to build and race on set tracks – that vital context we mentioned earlier – there’s little impetus to keep playing with it.

Even if there was a means to share and compete on the creations of your fellow players that would be something. But there’s no such facility here.

As a proof of concept for a virtual remote controlled car game, RC Club is pretty promising. I could imagine a tidy little arcade game being created with these core tools and some proper developer-created tracks and environments.

But in leaving you to make your own fun with just a few tools (almost all of which require payment), there simply isn’t enough here to keep most people interested for very long.