‘Hot Lap League’ – TouchArcade

On the surface, Hot Rounds League is a racing game with everything I hate. First of all, it’s a paid game with IAP. IAP can only be used for cosmetic stuff, but it’s still a little off-putting. It is also an online-only game. Then there’s the fact that it’s auto-acceleration only, so you only control steering and drift. Ok, not a big deal, but I usually prefer manual throttle at least as an option. Then there’s the fact that you’re not racing other cars, just the ghost of a car. It is called Hot Rounds League after all, but time trials aren’t normally my thing.

I could probably go on to name more things that would generally cause me to avoid a particular racing game, but people in our forums rave about Hot Rounds League since it came out, so I thought it was worth sacrificing a five to see what the fuss was about. I’m glad I did. I don’t know what the special sauce is here, but Hot Rounds League is extremely difficult to put down once it hooks you. Some have compared it to a puzzle game rather than a racing game, and from that angle I can see why even with all the things I don’t normally like about a runner, it won me over.

There are only two regions in the game, and the campaign is made up of multiple tracks using different layouts of each region. These are not realistic tracks, by the way. Massive jumps, loop-de-loops and inverted portions that defy gravity are common. The tracks are quite small and shouldn’t take you more than a minute to complete, and as I said before all that matters here is to complete a lap as fast as possible to earn bronze medals, d silver or gold or to set a new world record.

This is where the game feels like a puzzle. There’s most definitely a sweet line through each of the tracks, and with the size of the tracks, it’s hard not to try and try again and again just shaving fractions of a second off your previous times, looking for that perfect lap that will earn you the next medal or the next record. Each track you complete and medal you earn gives you experience points for your overall level, and you will need to earn a certain number of medals to unlock additional tracks and difficulties.

I think this progression system is the real hook of Hot Rounds League. You always feel like you’re progressing towards something with every medal earned, and there’s a real drive to do better and earn more medals to unlock new tracks. It should also be mentioned that this game is quite difficult, and the medal times for each course are a real challenge to obtain. But they are available, and this is the type of game where you actually notice your skills improving. As basic as the actual racing mechanics are, this is largely a skill-based game.

I’m sure a bunch of the negatives I listed before will be enough to deter some people from Hot Rounds League, and I understand. However, I hope my experience can convince some skeptics that there is more here than meets the eye. It’s a really smart take on a racing game that’s very well suited to mobile, and while that’s always said, the IAP is really useless. Hopefully new regions and vehicles will be included down the line, but for now I have my plate full with what’s here, not to mention the daily event and daily challenges which are also fun to chase. Hot Rounds League was a very pleasant surprise for me, and I hope it will be for you too.

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