What is it?
No wires. No rusty cars. No dodgy metal tracks. Anki Overdrive is that dodgy car racing track you got one Christmas as a kid and now gathers dust in the shed, reimagined for 2017. It's all those car-racing video games you love, from Gran Turismo to Forza Motorsport, brought to life.
What does it do? They call it an "intelligent racing robot system," which is a flash way of saying "we race cars real good". Overdrive lets up to four people race cars around a track through an app. I still haven't worked out how Anki, an American AI tech company, does it, but each race is an incredibly tense, close encounter. The entire family, from parents to kids, and neighbours to cousins, have been playing the Fast & Furious version of Overdrive for weeks, and it's yet to get boring. The rivalries are real. As is the smack talk.
What's in the box? Two cars, a charging station and enough track pieces to get you going. Additional cars and race track components can be purchased separately, something you'll need to do if you want to get four players going on the same track. But you can still play on your own against computer AI.
How does it work? It's pretty simple: snap together the race track, download an app, charge up your cars and you're good to go. There are multiple racing options, from test track trials to career modes. You'll soon find one you like.
What's the best feature? How moreish it is. Overdrive is very hard to put down, especially once you find a car you like. You can put your pedal to the metal, but tactics are just as important, from changing lanes and blocking rivals, to leaning into corners and speeding up on the straights. Yes, you can come off the track, crash into other cars and cause some serious damage. Relationships could be damaged.
And what's the worst?
Car batteries aren't quite as good as they could be. We occasionally had to end races early to wait for them to recharge. We also had a problem with cars turning around and driving the wrong way. But we turned that into a ruthless ploy to win if you're coming last. A couple of head-on smashes sure sparked a some bad words aimed in my direction.
Okay, how much does it cost? Anki Overdrive retails for $309.99, with the Fast & Furious editon slightly more at $339.99. Extra tracks are between $40-$60, and extra cars around twice that. You'll also need your own device to power each car. But trust me, if this is under the tree at Christmas, it's the only present your family will be playing. Probably even the grandparents.