Blonde vs. Brunette Racing (BvB from now on) is actually a little misleading. Although you can choose either a blonde or brunette as your racing avatar, you actually race against a redhead. In truth, these choices (along with other cosmetic touches like the different costumes the girls wear) make absolutely no difference to the game: it's just something to try and differentiate the game from all the other racers out there.
Putting aside all the cosmetic touches, what you get for your money is a Super Sprint style top-down racing game. Each level takes place on a single screen and requires you to complete a set number of laps around the track. Whoever finishes first wins: it's as simple as that. Along the way power-ups can be collected which can either help you or hinder your opponent. You need to play each level 3 times (at Bronze, Silver and Gold level) before proving you are good enough to enter the Final Race.
Despite its lack of originality, Blonde vs. Brunette Racing is actually a massive amount of fun. The simple gameplay means that anyone can instantly play and enjoy it, whilst the racing proves surprisingly addictive. Tracks are well designed so that you need to learn to handle your car to take the best racing line possible to get the edge on your opponent. Although you have no control over acceleration, orange Speed Zones appear on most tracks - driving over these will give you a speed boost and are essential to winning some levels, so you really need to take the right path to hit them.
Initial levels are not particularly challenging. I breezed through all the bronze levels on my first go, barely breaking a sweat. Despite the fact that I was finding it very easy (on one level I lapped my hapless opponent twice), I was playing this game with a big daft grin on my face. It's fun! There's something really appealing about the simplicity of it that hooks you in. I initially only switched it on to check it had downloaded correctly but found myself sitting there still playing it half an hour later! That's always the sign of a good game, when it keeps you playing despite your best intentions.
Things do start to toughen up after the bronze levels, with higher computer AI and better driving from your opponent. That said, it's never an impossibly difficult game and with a bit of practice anyone should be able to work their way through it without too much trouble. I'd guess the number of hours of gameplay you are going to get out of this title is fairly limited - between 3-6 hours depending on your skill. This might seem fairly short, but the crucial thing is that whilst you are playing it, you will be having fun; not merely slogging through the levels just so you can say you completed it. Sometimes it's worth sacrificing depth and longevity for fun. This is one of those occasions.
Graphics are great. Colourful and cartoony, they instantly conjure up the impression that this game is all about fun and that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The various characters are represented in a pseudo-Manga style (all wide eyes and pony tails) whilst the little cars, although they might look small are equally full of character. The developers have clearly tried to capture the look and feel of old 8 bit games (at least when it comes to the tracks) and it works well. There's a cutesy appeal to BvB Racing which I would normally find somewhat nauseating, but which for some reason works here.
Sound is not quite so hot. A tune plays throughout, and whilst it's OK at first, it becomes rather irritating after a while. Sound effects are limited (essentially the weedy sound of the engines) which should ruin the atmosphere, but somehow doesn't. On balance, I'd rather have a "quieter" game like BvB Racing which only has the bare minimum of sounds than other racers I've played where every character has an annoying catchphrase that they trot out each time they overtake or are overtaken.
Like so much else in the game, controls are simplicity itself. A left and a right arrow control the direction of travel and, erm, that's it! Given the pick up and play nature of the title, these are the perfect controls. There's nothing to learn, you just plop your fingers on the buttons and off you go. The buttons are a reasonable size (so your fingers are not in danger of slipping off them) and well placed (so that pressing them whilst holding the phone/iPad is comfortable, but they do not obscure the screen.) You might initially bemoan the lack of an accelerator or brakes (the computer handles your speed), but you soon adjust to this and don't really miss it.
The only real downside is the price. It is a very simple game and it's not going to take you long to unlock all the medals on each level. With this is mind, setting the download price at £1.49 seems a little ambitious. There are an awful lot of other games out there at that price point (and lower) which offer far more long term gameplay than BvB. This is a game that you will play loads initially, but then ignore forever once you have achieved all the goals. Personally, I think 69p would have been a much more realistic price.
Blonde Vs Brunette Racing is a very well thought out game. It's incredibly simple but, like all good games, that simplicity belies an addictive little racer. It might not be terribly original or particularly difficult, but it is a lot of fun. It's just a shame that the price is likely to put a lot of people off downloading it.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013