I spoke to Carolina, Alberto, and Carlos Mastretta, the siblings behind Circuit Superstars, as I played an early-build. They emphasized their goal is to capture the essence of motorsport with Circuit Superstars, and bring the aspects of the sport they particularly enjoy to others through their game.
Though I’m personally not an avid real-life racing fan myself (though I do know a thing or two about basic racing strategy, thanks to my NASCAR-loving parents), their passion was infectious and it was difficult not to be excited by their ambitious project.
Despite the obvious expertise behind the development, Circuit Superstars was not too difficult to grasp by any means. I can already tell it’s one of those “easy to pick up, difficult to master” sort of games, which is probably best category to aim for as a multiplayer game that simultaneously relies on challenging yourself.
At first glance, Circuit Superstars is quite simple. There really are only three buttons to use–accelerate, break, and steer—but the challenge is, as Alberto Mastretta said, “in the physics.”
My handling was messy at first, but I got the hang of the easiest track after a few laps–mostly. I found it more natural to use the triggers to accelerate and break, finding a rhythm around the track’s turns as I learned how to drift. Circuit Superstars looks great, and handles so well it was easy to get lost in the flow of driving.
As soon as I started talking and actively listening to the three designers though, my concentration broke and I’d miscalculate a turn, slamming back into a wall I’d avoided a number of times before.
This wasn’t just me, either. When we played a multiplayer race, I noticed my opponents stalling, crashing, or all out stopping in their tracks as they took the time to explain mechanics or answer my questions. The challenge really is in the physics, and unless you know the tracks like the back of your hand, traversing expertly through them without damaging your ride requires concentration. But, the good kind–not the tedious, frustrating kind.
Simply driving well isn’t enough with Circuit Superstars, though. There’s also the question of some small resource management in the form of pit stops. Just like in a real motorsport race, your car’s tires will wear down, fuel will deplete, and if you’re not a perfect driver, damage will affect your car’s handling. Deciding when to make a pitstop and repair is an integral part of racing strategy, one that can make or break a race, especially when they’re longer.
Already, Circuit Superstars includes small details, like skid marks on a track that “tell the story of the race,” Carolina Mastretta pointed out. It’s ambitious for how small the team is, and they aren’t even done. There are more features they’d like to add, like drafting, which, in the simplest terms, is used to reduce wind resistance by closely following a car in front.
Circuit Superstars will feature tracks and cars from a variety of eras and types of motorsport, a single-player campaign, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer for up to 12 players. Plus, the parameters of the race can be altered, so you can turn off car damage and pit-stops when trying to beat a personal lap record, for example. I had a fun time playing Circuit Superstars and talking with the devs–but don’t let its top-down, less realistic look fool you. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye. Casey DeFreitas is an Editor at IGN who loves monster hunting, slaying, and catching. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.