‘Anki Overdrive’ Bringing Modular Tracks and New Cars to AI Racing Game.

Anki today announced a sequel to its innovative iOS-compatible Anki Drive slot car racing game. Called “Anki Overdrive” and set for launch in September, it will include brand new cars, a customizable track – courtesy of magnetically interlocking track pieces and “bridges” that adjust track height – and even jump ramps.

Originally debuted on stage at WWDC 2013, Anki has slowly grown support for the original Anki Drive by adding new cars and track support but keeping the same basic static roll-out mat technology. The sequel, which the company plans to announce today at the New York Toy Fair, will retain the same basic concept of using a smartphone to control a physical toy car around a track, battling against an A.I. opponent or other players.

Anki
The Anki Overdrive starter kit, which will retail for $150 and come with two cars, will include 10 modular track pieces that the company says can create up to eight different track options out of the box. They’ll also be selling “expansion packs” that will give users the ability to add four way intersections, U-turns, and jumps into the mix. Those expansion packs will cost between $10 and $30, and additional cars will be around $50.

The team has boosted the software component, as well. Talking to Re/code, Anki co-founder Hanns Tappeiner said when the cars interact with a new, user-made track, they’ll drive slowly and cautiously as they “map” the track to their memory, after which they’ll begin speeding up. Tappeiner also highlights the potential for user imagination in weaving tracks around everyday household objects, not just limiting users to designated objects provided by Anki.

Tappeiner and I combined the pieces from two of the starter kits to make one criss-crossing mega-track stretching across a conference table. As advertised, we were able to use the stuff already on the desk — soda cans, water bottles, computer cables — to buttress the rising and falling pieces of the track.

Tappeiner also promised the much-loved meta game of advancing player levels – courtesy of the Anki Drive [Direct Link] companion app available as a free download – as you race and battle around tracks will remain firmly intact with Anki Overdrive. “Even though it’s a physical thing, we think of it as a video game,” Tappeiner said. “If this were a video game, every time you advanced a level you’d be in a different world.”

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