Last year, Mattel added cool technology to Hot Wheels racing with Hot Wheels Augmoto, and this year it goes a step further in its merging of digital and physical play with Hot Wheels id. The physical side of this mixed play experience involves a Smart Track, a Race Portal, and uniquely identifiable vehicles. On the digital side, there's an app that connects to the track via Bluetooth and allows you to personalize your fleet and measure performance all to enhance the racing experience.
Within the app, there are actually two ways to play. One is purely digital racing, turning your smart device into a racing video game with a variety of races and digital cars to unlock.
But if you want to play in the physical world, you can use the Smart Track set, which gives you a track set with race portal for scanning cars into the app, plus two exclusive cars to get you started. The Smart Track uses a manual booster that you push down on to rev it up and send cars flying around the track. The more you boost, the more power your car gets, although it will take skill to avoid overpumping.
Within the app, there are two modes of play: Smart Track Campaign and Smart Track Freeplay. The Campaign section walks you through how to build the track and use the various track pieces through a series of challenges. Beat the challenges to unlock more challenges and add more pieces of track. The Freeplay section allows you to build the track however you want and create your own races and challenges. Playing in both modes earns you in-game currency to redeem for digital upgrades to your car, such as giving it more power to beat opponents.
And you can check to see how each of your Hot Wheels id vehicles is doing by selecting the Garage mode in the app. Basic stats on speed, acceleration, handling, and boost record how your cars have performed throughout the different in-app races and challenges they've been through. You'll also find total miles driven, top speed, races won, and more for each car. Additional cars are sold separately.
If you're a fan of racing with Hot Wheels, and you want a way to keep track of how well each of your cars performs, then you might like the technological upgrade from the new id system. This merges physical play with a digital experience, and there's still a hands-on aspect to keep kids a part of the racing fun. There are also a lot of ways to play and many cars to collect for a customized digital garage.
And speaking of the play, there is skill involved. Some of the challenges are difficult to complete, and if you give too much boost power, your cars will go flying off the track. Getting it all right can be frustrating, especially for younger kids, but mastering the boost and beating challenges is all part of the fun and play.
Hot Wheels id is for ages 8 and up.
A separate Race Portal and additional Hot Wheels id vehicles are sold separately.
The Smart Track comes with a 16-piece track, two Hot Wheels id cars, a Race Portal, an end piece for creating drag strip track configurations, a smart device stand, and a USB cord for charging. A downside is that an AC adapter is not included. So to charge the Smart Track (or update firmware), the track needs to be plugged in to a USB device that is then plugged into a wall outlet. There were also no build instructions in the kit or online, so we just followed the picture on the box.
The Hot Wheels id app is a free download for iOS devices. It will be available for download on Android devices soon.
The instructions for using the track with the app were not very clear. For instance, in order to play the Campaign mode, DO NOT set up the Smart Track. Campaign mode starts you off with a challenge that only requires the Race Portal booster and as you beat that challenge, you will unlock another challenge that adds track pieces to the booster, and so on. If you have the Smart Track set up and try to play the first Campaign mode challenge, you'll receive an error message of "wrong piece" and won't be able to play.
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