A buck can get you pretty far. A bottle of ammonia cleaner, a couple of packs of imported Chinese ginseng gum, or even one of the most innovative games of the year. DrawRace can't be found in any dollar store sandwiched between paper plates and Mexican-branded tubes of Colgate, but you'll find it on your iPhone after you finish reading this review.
Instead of tilting your handset to drive, DrawRace employs one of your fingers to trace out routes for your miniature car to follow. Races don't occur in real-time, but follow from the lines you outline on the screen. Draw a race line and your vehicle matches the curves and straights precisely, even adjusting to the speed at which you swiped your finger through each bend.
It's gameplay so obvious and simple that DrawRace staking claim to this innovation is a wonder in itself. The concept of drawing out races is intuitive enough that anyone can pick up and play, yet nuances in how the game responds to the position and speed of your finger make it challenging.
Charting a path to the finish line isn't anywhere near as easy as you'd imagine. DrawRace cleverly counters the simplicity of scribbling a path on the screen by placing a premium on speed. The rate at which you slide your finger correlates to the speed of your car in the race. This means methodical drawing will get you nowhere, the game forcing you to quickly scratch out a winning path.
Drawing a clean racing line isn't enough to grab the checkered flag, though. Rounding a turn at high speed results in your vehicle skidding, losing precious time as your car corrects itself. Varying your speed, which is directly related to how fast you move your finger across the screen, determines how quickly you finish each race. Turns must be taken carefully, your finger slowly moving through bends to prevent future skidding.
The game's 20 courses can be burned through in short, solo order. Fortunately, hot seat multiplayer and network options keep the motor in DrawRace running well beyond first gear. Up to three players can take turns drawing lines on any of the tracks, after which all three lines play outsimultaneously in a race.
Ghost data for any track becomes available once you've cleared the course with a single player win against the computer. You're not given the ability to choose a specific ghost from a leaderboard, but given a random opponent instead. An option to view the leaderboards and select a specific ghost would be preferable. That way, you could locate a buddy's best time, try beating it, then post the time online.
Other network features could expand the game's social appeal. Integration with Twitter, support for Facebook Connect, and an in-game friends list need to be top of list for future updates. Spelling corrections in the tutorial text and new maps would be nice too.
These are but tune-ups to an engine that is already running smoothly. DrawRace invents a new style of racing that fits iPhone beautifully, bringing intuitive control and connectivity together in one fun ride.