Given that it’s just an add-on to Disney Infinity 3.0, you might expect the arcadey racing game Toy Box Speedway (all systems) to be somewhat shallow. But it not only has more depth and options than you might expect, but thanks to its tight controls and twisty tracks, it’s a really fun Sunday drive.
At its core,
Toy Box Speedway is like Mario Kart 8 and lots of other arcade racers. It has responsive steering that makes every car feel it just got new brakes and tires; vehicles can drift around corners with the press of a button (and, of course, a turn of the thumbstick), which fills up your turbo meter; and you can even do a simple hop when the mood strikes you.
What makes it different is that, like the Toy Box Takeover add-on for the “Toy Box” mode of Disney Infinity 3.0, Toy Box Speedway mixes elements of Disney Infinity 3.0, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, and the original Disney Infinity. Which means you can only can you set up a existential race between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker, but you can put the former behind the wheel of the golf cart from Gravity Falls, the latter onto the Calico motorcycle from Bolt, and have them chase each other around a track inspired by Monsters Inc.
With every Disney Infinity 3.0 playable character available as a driver (well, assuming you own their corresponding toy, of course), Toy Box Speedway has a ton of potential competitors. More importantly, it also has a good number of ways for them to race: you can drive around the skate park-like lobby area, doing tricks and picking up collectibles; you can race against the clock in the “Time Trial” mode; you can engage in multi-lap races; or you can engage in multi-lap races during which you can grab power-ups that give you such weapons as machine guns, grenades, and rear-mounted missiles.
As if that wasn’t enough, the latter two modes also give you a choice of doing a single event or a best of three Grand Prix circuit. You’re even given a choice of engine size, which determines how fast your vehicle goes.
This, unfortunately, is where Toy Box Speedway starts to run into problems. Much like in Mario Kart 8, the lower speed circuits are a bit too low. Play with the 50cc or 100cc engines and you’ll feel more like you’re on a drive with grandma than in a grand prix race. Only the 250cc is fast enough to make this fun.
It also doesn’t help…
that the pod racers from the Star Wars movies don’t work well with all of the courses. Because they’re longer than the other vehicles, and thus don’t turn on a dime (or even a quarter), it’s hard for them to navigate well around the tight corners of Sugar Rush Speedway from Wreck-It Ralph and some other tracks.
In addition, while Toy Box Speedway is deeper than you might expect, it could go further. There’s no career mode for those of us who are goal oriented, and it would be fun if there were some point-to-point races along with the multi-lap ones. It could also be argued that this doesn’t have enough tracks, but this isn’t a big issue for me because when a racing game has too many courses, you never get to know any of them all that well.
Toy Box Speedway also has an issue that oddly plagues other areas of Disney Infinity 3.0. As I mentioned earlier, you can fill up your boost meter by drifting around corners. But to activate the boost, you don’t press one of the face buttons like in a Need For Speed game, or any other racing game for that matter. Instead, you have to flick the right thumbstick forward. Why the switch? No idea. But this series is full of such switcharoos.
Lastly, though it’s more of an observation than a complaint, is how Toy Box Speedway lets you play as tons of different characters, but there’s kind of no point. The only difference between racing as, say, Anger from Inside Out vs. Yoda is that when Anger is on the Guardians Of The Galaxy track, he’s not going to say, “My house from here I can see.” Sure, it’s funny to see Darth Vader driving a golf cart, but it doesn’t make this more fun to play. Or less, for that matter.
Despite these minor notations, though, Toy Box Speedway still manages to be a lot of fun. Not only does it have fluid and intuitive controls (save for the aforementioned boost button, that is), but it puts your mastery of them to the test on tracks that are twisty without being full of impossibly sharp turns. The courses also have some fun jumps, occasional divergent paths, as well as number of inventive (though not entirely unexpected) hazards, such as cans of screams in the Monsters Inc. track that will knock you into a tail spin. In fact, it is because of the tracks that Toy Box Speedway reminds me way more of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing than it does Mario Kart 8.
In the end,
Toy Box Speedway is a fun add-on for Disney Infinity 3.0, one that expands upon the game’s anything-goes premise. That it’s got more going for it than you might expect just makes it that much better.