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Velan Studios and Mattel introduced Hot Wheels: Rift Rally, a new mixed reality racing experience coming to your living room.
You play the game using a game controller or iPhone screen to control the car, and then watch the game through the screens of your Apple iOS device or Sony PlayStation consoles.
The game debuts on March 14, and I got a hands-on demo from the team at Velan Studios. It reminds me of old toy-to-life games like Skylanders, which Velan’s founders worked on at a previous company, as well as the more recent Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit game Velan worked on with Nintendo. And it lets you drive around your living room in a mixed reality experience.
“We really felt there was more to do” with digital physical games, Dave Pokress, Velan Studios’ director of marketing, said in an interview with GamesBeat. “There were some unfinished business that we wanted to explore with this technology. We want to explore new fantasies. That’s where Hot Wheels: Rift Rally comes into play. It’s a whole new fantasy about getting behind the wheel of your favorite Hot Wheels car.”
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Hot Wheels: Rift Rally has the quality of a triple A racing game that you can watch on an iPhone or on a big screen for a PS4 or PS5. And Velan combined that with its proprietary RC mixed reality technology that lets you drive a toy car with a big camera. That camera transports the video back to your console and mixes it with 3D gaming footage that looks so much better than the toy and your view itself.
As the toy car maneuvers around your living room or kitchen in a relatively mundane fashion, you watch one of the many Hot Wheels race cars in an over-the-top racing experience, burning up the track, jumping, spinning in circles, drifting. or perform stunts as it appears on the screen where you are watching the game. It is available to reserve now.
“Our mission at Velan has always been to create innovative games that feel magical to players,” said Karthik Bala, CEO of Velan Studios, in a statement. “Our experience combining digital and physical games taught us a lot about the mixed reality racing genre we invented, which we used to bring a transformative new experience to Hot Wheels: Rift Rally.”
The base unit is a Chameleon RC car with a large 1080p camera protruding from the roof. It provides a third person view which makes the game immersive.
Hot Wheels: Rift Rally puts players behind the wheel of their favorite Hot Wheels vehicles using the Chameleon RC car, which can digitally transform into more than 140 vehicle variations, including seven different Bone Shakers. This includes iconic Hot Wheels like the Twin Mill, Bone Shaker, Mach Speeder, Gotta Go and more fan favorites; as well as several original Rift Rally vehicles. There are 22 cars at launch, and you can see what they look like as you scroll through the cars on the screen.
Hot Wheels is a perfect brand for the game, as it is the center of car culture and stunt racing, Pokress said.
“Everyone as a kid really fantasized about what it would be like to shrink down and get inside my little Hot Wheels car and drive it,” Dan Doptis, the game’s director, said in an interview. “The Chameleon truly represents the RC car that has the ability to be everyone around it. So it’s a piece of technology, the car of the future. It has the ability to adapt and simulate other cars.”
In Hot Wheels: Rift Rally, players have two ways to play. In campaign mode, players set up Rift Gates to create the ultimate mixed reality track and explore different challenge maps where there are multiple challenges to complete and races to compete. In Stunt Mode, players drive and stunt the Doorless Chameleon while chaining together drifts, wheelies, and burnouts to reach high scores and earn rewards.
“It turns your whole house into a playground, and through this stunt mode, you can have a lot of fun just experiencing the joy of driving,” said Doptis. “We also have different radio stations or music playlists that you can choose to suit your mood. My dog loves to chase the car.”
“Hot Wheels: Rift Rally unlocks an exciting new type of creative play for Hot Wheels fans by bridging physical and digital play in a way we’ve never seen before,” said Chris Down, Mattel director of design, in a statement. a statement.
You can customize the look and performance of the cars to give your style to the game. In-game performance customizations translate to Chameleon’s behavior in the real world; for example, increasing acceleration performance means that Chameleon accelerates faster in the living room.
“If you have a higher top speed, the car will move faster. If your brakes are better, the car will stop faster,” Doptis said.
Players can play solo or by connecting multiple Chameleons on separate devices with cross-platform play. Players can also play co-op with friends on PlayStation using a single Chameleon, where the action transfers to different controllers.
“Many of our game mechanics are powered by what we call Rift energy. The energy from the glitch is what allows you to do things like boost,” Doptis said. “You get it by doing drifts and burns or taking out other cars, and then you use it to do stunts and power-ups.”
In the demo, I quickly saw that the car driving across your floor doesn’t do exactly what the car on your screen does. The movements of the car on the screen are exaggerated, but the location of the car on the track is transferred quite accurately. The RC car doesn’t do things like burn rubber like the car on the screen does, or jump when it goes under a door like the car on the screen does.
“It’s a digital transformation,” Pokress said.
Added Doptis: “You can always think of the Chameleon as being able to spawn like The Matrix in your world. You can augment your world or become different cars digitally. When we do things like burnouts, we can get a full view of the car so we can do things like donuts now. The car is just sitting there in the real world. But through the lens of the game, you get that fantasy of doing the burnout. We’ve added a layer of gameplay to the world.”
It wasn’t that difficult to drive the car with a controller or iPhone while looking at the screen, instead of the car. You can perform 20 different stunts with eight different driving styles. The car can connect to your home Wi-Fi network for easy video transfer.
“That thing is a console on wheels,” Doptis said. “There’s a lot going on inside.”
Velan also made some of his own cars which he refers to as hobby cars in digital form.
One of the brilliant things about this whole idea, in my opinion, is that it gets away from the problem of physical inventory inflation. That’s what killed Skylanders from Activision, Disney Infinity and Warner Bros.’ Lego dimensions. They made so many versions of the toys that retailers could sell. At first, that was great as the kids collected them all. But as toys multiplied, retailers didn’t know which ones to keep in stock, and it was easy to fall into an overstock situation that turned out to be very costly.
With this design, Mattel only retails one or two cars and you customize everything through digital versions. That’s much easier to handle, Pokress said.
“Velan Studios’ innovative play design and technology introduces a revolutionary play experience for Hot Wheels fans by transforming your home into the ultimate Hot Wheels track for your digital car collection,” said Mike DeLaet, global director of Mattel digital games, in a statement. .
Hot Wheels: Rift Rally will launch on the App Store for iOS and PlayStation Store on March 14, 2023. Players can now pre-order the Standard Edition for $130 or the Collector’s Edition for $150 at www.riftrally.com and coming soon at GameStop.
Included with purchase are the Chameleon RC car, four Rift Gates for track building, and a charging cable. The game software will be free to download. The Collector’s Edition includes a special edition Chameleon with black livery and gold accents and a limited edition McLaren Senna Hot Wheels die-cast car in a display case. The batteries last about two hours and take two to three hours to charge.
It is another innovative title from Velan Studios, founded in Troy, New York in 2016 by industry veterans Guha and Karthik Bala to focus on magical games. Over the past two years, Velan’s team of veteran game creators has released Knockout City and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. The Bala brothers started Vicarious Visions in a basement while they were in high school. They became part of Activision and for decades worked on titles like Guitar Hero and Skylanders.
“A lot of what makes us different as a studio has always been pushing the boundaries of digital and physical play,” Pokress said. “Innovating and creating new ways to play is always a challenge that we give ourselves. And we think there’s something really special about the physical and the digital.”
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