Anki Overdrive Review: Race Cars from the Future

Editor's rating:
9.4
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Reviewed by Bobby Brower
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We like
  • Easy to assemble without clips, snaps, or extra parts
  • Comes with a wheel cleaner so that the cars and the track stay clean
  • Tracks are magnetic making setup fast and easy
  • The cars can be charged on the car charger that comes with the kit
  • The app is free to download
  • Fosters imagination building and social skills
We don’t like
  • The cars cannot go backward
  • The app is only available on two platforms: IOS and Android
How it works

Car racing games have been the favorite of children since the first remote control car was invented. Kids love to get together and race each other as they battle to be the best. Car racing became even more popular with the onset of the at home race track where kids could build a course for their remote control cars to go on that included loops and jumps and twists. Soon, the video game would take car racing to a whole new level with visuals and battles that take place in cyberspace. The makers at Anki have taken all these different formats and loves of racing and melded them all together into one kit that is both video game and at home racing. Anki created Overdrive, an at home car racing kit that is operated through your smartphone so that you can blend together video game and real life. With Overdrive, you can build your own course, choose your own car, and use your smartphone as the controller that also allows you to battle with other racers for total track dominance. It’s the perfect blend of virtual and actual reality that allows kids to use their imaginations to bond with others and stay socially active. 

 

The Tracks

The Tracks

Out of the box, Overdrive comes with several parts. In the kit, you will get all the tracks, two cars, and all the accessories necessary to build the track to your liking. The tracks are made out of a durable, flexible, and easy-to-assemble material that can be configured eight different ways. Upon opening the box, a set of directions comes with the kit helping you follow which of the eight courses you can assemble.

Each piece of track is enclosed in its own plastic bag, so there is a bit of a mess when opening everything, but there are no zip ties or hard-to-open clips or bags that make setting up the game difficult. Most of the pieces are curved track, but there are four straight pieces for configuring the track along with two risers that allow for you to create a jump along the route. Probably the best part of the tracks is that they are connected magnetically. There are no clips or snaps to keep them together, and once you fit the ends together perfectly, the magnets will take over and do the rest. The tracks can easily be pulled apart as well. The track material is floppy and bendable. Once the tracks have been laid out according to the configuration of your choosing, you can then move on to the next steps.
The Cars

The Cars

The starter kit for Anki Overdrive comes with two cars. The cars are named Ground Shock and Skull. Ground Shock is blue, and Skull is red. The first thing to do with the cars is to charge them. The starter kit comes with a four car charging station. There are two other cars sold separately that you can buy and add to the collection so that you can race four cars at the same time. Place the two accompanying cars to the charger until they are fully charged. Once they are charged, they can then be placed on the track for game play. In order for the cars to operate, the cars are connected to your smartphone device via Bluetooth. How to connect the cars to your WiFi service is included in the directions that come with the game. The cars are like mini robots that can take commands through the Overdrive app.
The Overdrive App

The Overdrive App

In order to use Overdrive, you need to download the Overdrive app to your phone. The app is compatible with IOS and Android only. The app is free to download, and once downloaded and opened you can sync the app to your cars and start operating them. Through the app is where you can use your weapons to combat other cars and where you can steer the cars around the track. It’s in the app that Anki has blended video games with the actual car race track. The interface of the app tells you what place you are in the game so that you can speed up your game or look over your shoulder and see who is coming up behind you. The app is also where you can go to use your weapons so that as you are racing around the track, you can knock out your opponents so that you can pass them and get to the finish line first. Each car has its own set of weapons and their own strengths and weaknesses.
Ground Shock

Ground Shock

Ground Shock is the blue car that comes with your kit. Ground Shock is the type of car that’s strength lies in its weapons. Ground Shock’s weapons are Electropulse, Core Inverter, and Charge Beam. These weapons allow Ground Shock to keep a safe distance and be able to attack meticulously. Because of this combination, Ground Shock’s defense is the highest of the two. When you are signed in to be Ground Shock, your opponent will most likely spend all of their time on the track trying to get away from you as opposed to attacking you, however, Ground Shock’s main competition is Skull and Skull has the maneuverability to dodge anything that Ground Shock throws at them.
Skull

Skull

The red car that comes with your kit is Skull. Although Skull is better at moving out of the way of danger and quickly steering around obstacles, Skull does have an arsenal of weapons of its own that are effective in their own way. Skull’s weapons are a Plasma Cannon, Depth Charges, and a Chain Gun. For Skull’s weapons to be as effective as possible, Skull has to move quick and close to its opponent head-on in order for the weapons to be able to knock their opponent out, and the weapons are very powerful. Skull is for the quick mover, while Ground Shock is for the thinker and planner.
Starting the Game

Starting the Game

When starting the game of Overdrive, there are certain set ups that must be adhered to get the game underway. The very first thing is connecting the cars to the Wifi via Bluetooth so that the cars are connected to your smartphone device. Once that is done, then you can place cars on the track. In order for the cars to know how to run the track, the track must first be scanned. When the cars are down on the track you will select the scan feature and the cars will begin to go around the track on their own at a very slow rate of speed. While going around the track, the cars will process and map out the course so that they know where they are going during game play. It is suggested to create a simple course for this because the cars will be moving so slow they may not be able to make jumps or take steep inclines. Once the course is mapped out, the tracks can be changed and the cars will pick up on the changes. Once the track is scanned you can then start playing.
Playing the Game

Playing the Game

Playing Overdrive is just like playing a video game except the track is in front of you as opposed to on your screen. As you are traveling around the course, you can choose your weapons and try and defeat your opponents. Every time you hit your opponent with a weapon, they will slow down on the track so that you can pass them. You can also tilt your phone to change lanes and potentially run your opponent off the track. When that happens, all you have to do is pick up the derailed car and place it back on the track. Give it a slight nudge and the car will rejoin the game.
Imagination Building

Imagination Building

Anki Overdrive helps your child develop two very important skills. One is imagination and the other is social interaction. Because you can build the course to your liking or by following the eight models that come with the game, your child will have the opportunity to create and build at the same time. Because the tracks are stuck together on magnets, the tracks are easy to continuously rearrange. Your child can use whatever objects are in the room to put the tracks over and they can use objects such as books and magazines or get super creative and place the tracks over furniture creating steep inclines and tracks that go around pillows or other knickknacks found around the home. Your child can build their own world and create their own virtual world at the same time using their minds and creativity.
Social Interaction

Social Interaction

Anki Overdrive is a great way for kids to be interactive with each other. Not only can kids play with each other in the same room in both the virtual and actual worlds, but through the app, kids can play with other kids anywhere in the world. Several kids can play on the same track virtually. Although the virtual interaction is not as great as the in-person interaction, kids are still collaborating with each other creatively and working together to build something that they all can enjoy. It’s this type of social team building that helps kids to learn how to play well and work well with other kids and that skill will aid them when they are in school working in groups or out in the working world creating and collaborating with their peers.
Price

Price

The Anki Overdrive Starter Kit is not inexpensive and does not fit into the financial budget of many parents. Because the cars are mini computers and the tracks are state of the art and easy to assemble, the price for Overdrive is on the higher side. If Overdrive does fit into your budget, it is a great buy for your kids. The hours of creativity and enjoyment they will get out of using the toy is priceless and the durable materials means that the kit can have a long life. The pros totally outweigh the price when it comes to this toy as it not only helps foster imagination and social skills, but it gives children confidence in working with digital media and virtual reality. Having the boost of confidence and education can help your child in all of their educational and professional endeavors.

Conclusion

Anki Overdrive is a great toy for the kid who wants to be imaginative and play with other kids. Not only do kids get to build the track and the world that the track lives in but they get to work with and play with digital media, which is a skill that is necessary to build into today’s world. Your child will get to interact with kids in person as they work to build the tracks together, and they will get to communicate with other gamers in the world through the app. Your child will use their skills at thinking fast and moving fast to win the race while creating a plan to defeat their opponents. All in all, the kit is easy to work with as is the app, which makes opening the toy and starting the game fast and easy and you and your child will not be bogged down by setup and a myriad of pieces that will make putting the game together hard. The toy is easy to use right from the onset. Although it does not fit into the budget of many parents, Anki Overdrive is definitely an entertaining toy that all kids will love and a toy that should be considered by all parents.
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