My Car Has Legs And Bears Are Cheering For Me
12:09 PM EDT on May 22, 2023
I finally got a chance to play the new video game released this month. This is the game everyone has been talking about. It’s been hailed almost instantly as a classic, and it’s one of the most fun games I have played in a long while. I am talking, of course, about What The Car?, out this month from Danish developer Triband.
The game is a sequel to What The Golf?, a 2019 novelty golf game originally released on Apple Arcade (which is also where I’m playing the new game). I have never played a round of anything but miniature golf, but I have been playing golf video games since I was 7 years old: the original PGA Tour Golf for MS-DOS. I love video game golf and have played many variations. I had the one where Bobcat Goldthwait is an announcer. My senior year of college was basically just a blur of Tiger Woods 2004, the one with the Just Blaze beats. My wife and I played the latest Mario Golf for months. Another Switch game I enjoyed was Golf Story—an RPG where you, for one example, hit zombies with golf shots.
What The Golf? is an even weirder game. The goal is to advance the ball toward the hole. Normal so far. But sometimes the hole and flag move to thwart you. Sometimes your ball is a person or a house. Sometimes you have to bowl instead of golf. It is basically a collection of mini-games where you generally need to advance something, shot by shot, toward a target.
What The Car? takes the same idea. You are advancing as a car toward a finish line. You play as a car with legs in a world of full of bears cheering you on. I do not really get it. But, man, it is a hoot. Some levels are pretty straightforward. Others are weird; your car is constantly changing. Sometimes your car’s legs are too big, sometimes you car is a hamster wheel, sometimes your car is balanced on office chairs. Levels get clever: I played as the car on a slot car track where I had to catch the finish line, also moving around the track.
Like any good casual mobile game, it has a variety of challenges. All you need to do to beat a level is finish it. But if you finish it faster, you can get silver or gold. Many courses have shortcuts that allow you to complete it as fast as possible. Each level also has a hidden card in it that … I dunno what it does yet. Maybe nothing.
The game is pretty short right now; I beat it in a few days though it appears there will be expansion levels. Now I can go back and play levels I missed or try to finish faster on levels I enjoy. There’s also, in theory, an unlimited number of levels: Players can make their own boards and upload them to the game. I haven’t tried many of them yet but I did play some sort of level made by ASMRplanet, a YouTuber. I didn’t get any tingling from it, but we all have our ASMR preferences (I still like the “virtual haircut”).
“We try to find everyday objects that everyone has some sort of experience with,” Triband creative director Tim Garbos told Inverse. “Everyone knows what a car is and how it's sort of supposed to work so it’s very easy to subvert expectations and do something completely different than that. It’s just like trying to look at a car and forgetting how it works and just seeing it as a weird box, and then imagining all sorts of things.”
The developers are like me with golf games; none of them own cars. Still, they have created a simple, silly, fun racing game. It’s only available on Apple Arcade so far, but it'll eventually be on other platforms as well. It's more fun than driving.
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