Art Style: light trax is basically a WiiWare port and update of the GBA game Dotstream. The game is divided into four modes: Light Tours, Light Races, Hyperlight Tours, and Freeway. The game is played using the Wii Remote in the horizontal position.
The game features two game types split across four main gameplay modes. The Light Races, Light Tours, and Hyperlight Tours modes are all "racing" games, with Freeway (and the unlockable Cruise mode) being its own separate game type.
At first glance, the game seems to be a simple minimalist racing game; differently-colored lines race along a solid black racetrack with white borders to get to the finish line, with the player playing as the white line. The first track starts off looking entirely 2D, but, after you turn the first corner, you'll realize that the game, while entirely 2D in gameplay, often changes its perspective using a three-dimensional camera (somewhat Mode 7-looking).
The racetrack is divided into invisible "lanes" that the lines must stay in. The player can change lanes using the D-pad, but you cannot cross over other lines (you bounce off them, as you do the side walls of the racetrack). Since lines bend diagonally while changing lanes, therefore taking longer to travel and "slowing you down" in the process, it is advantageous to change lanes as sparingly as possible.
Each line has a boost meter that is increased by "grinding" alongside other lines (riding parallel to them in an adjacent lane). This is indicated by pulsing parallel lines on either side of your line. Boost is not gained when turning, however. Boost can be used at any time, but turning while boosting will exhaust your boost significantly faster than driving straight.
Passing a line in an adjacent lane provides another small boost of speed, indicated by speed lines that briefly appear on the front of your line. As such, a good technique for getting ahead in a race is to drive alongside another line, wait for your boost meter to be sufficiently full, boost past your opponent, and then cut him off by switching into his lane immediately.
Green arrows pointing forwards down the track are boost pads that will cause any line that goes through it to speed up for a short while. Yellow arrows pointing left and right perpendicular to the track will bump you in their respective directions. Gray backwards-pointing arrows will cause you to slow down for awhile. Dot-patterned regions of ground will cause lines that move through it to slow down for awhile. Hitting a perpendicular wall will cause lines to stop and reset their movement upon collision (the player will lose a heart for doing so [see below]). Red boxes are moving obstacles that act just like perpendicular walls. Some parts of the track are three-dimensional, allowing for alternate routes in many situations.
The player starts each track off with a number of hearts. Your heart number is decreased when you hit any obstacle, such as a perpendicular wall or a red box. If you have zero hearts left an you hit an obstacle, you are forced to retire from the race. Hearts can be picked up on certain tracks, and you can press A at any time to spend a heart to get a large boost of speed (similar to having your boost meter filled up all the way).
There are three powerups you can pick up: a green arrow, a pink heart, and a yellow star. The green arrow adds a single-use "boost" ability to your line, used by pressing A (basically allowing you an extra boost as though you used up a heart, without actually using up a heart). Yellow stars are also single-use and activated by pressing A, but grants temporary invulnerability instead of a speed boost. This allows you to pass through red boxes and slide off of perpendicular walls without being harmed, and also (and this is important) lets you drive through dot-patterned ground sections without a speed penalty. Pink heart powerups add a heart to your heart counter.
There are five tours: Lumina, Spectra, Intensa, Radia, and Brillia. Each tour contains three tracks.
Even though the game itself plays like a racing game and looks like a racing game, in actuality it's more of a puzzle game. You start off in last place at the beginning of each race and have to get in first before the end of the race. You're the only racer who has lives (the AI-controlled lines will pause briefly after colliding with an obstacle, as you do, but, unlike you, they can do so as much as they want), only you can spend lives for extra boost, and only you can pick up powerups.
In Light Tours mode, you play through all three tracks in a given tour in succession, with your placement carrying over between races. You must get first place overall in order to unlock the next Freeway sector, which in turn will unlock the next Light Tour.
In Light Races mode, you can play through any of the individual tracks from the Light Tours on their own. You must play through a tour once in order to unlock its set of Light Races.
Hyperlight Tours is unlocked after completing all five Light Tours. It combines each of the five Light Tours together into one long tour, with Freeway mode parts between each tour. Failure to complete the Freeway portions in time will result in you missing the first race of the next tour. Completing this mode will unlock the Background Music option in the pause menu and the Credits option from the main menu.
Freeway mode is similar to Light Tours in many ways, but different in that you don't really "race" anyone, per se, but just drive around. Like Light Tours, you control the white line on a track of other-colored lines, but, unlike Light Races, there's no obstacles, powerups, or defined finish line. While it may lack some of those features or elements of depth, it is ultimately where the game truly shines and becomes infinitely re-playable
The Freeway world is divided into six parts: one "sector" named after each of the five Light Tours, and the Freeway itself. Each sector is a closed circuit; you can just drive around each one in a circle, but, to get from sector to sector, you have to take an "onramp" and get onto the Freeway. From there, you can take an "offramp" to any sector that you've unlocked (by unlocking that tour in Light Tours). Not-yet-unlocked sectors are cordoned off and inaccessible until the previous Light Tour is complete. Each sector has its own unique visual style, and the Freeway region just before the offramp to each sector reflects this as well.
Instead of having a boost meter or heart counter like in Light Tours, you instead have "gears." You start off in first gear, and must activate second gear by grinding along other lines (similar to how you get boost in Light Races). Once you've done this enough, second gear will open up, and you can shift up. Your speed will increase, and you can start grinding lines to get third gear, and so forth up to the sixth gear. You will see an increased rate of progress to the next gear if you are in your current highest gear while grinding next to an adjacent line. Furthermore, positioning yourself to grind alongside two lines simultaneously will earn you the highest rate of progress to the next gear. Use caution however, as you can pass over other lines in first gear, but colliding with other lines in any other gear, through left or right motion through them, will cause you to lose 50% of your highest gear. What's worse, if you are involved in a 'head-on' collision with the back of another line while traveling in the current highest gear, you lose 100% gear progression. As such, it is usually a good idea to rapidly shift down in potentially dangerous situations, to avoid losing your gear progress.
This style of progression creates a true risk vs reward scenario: attempting to travel as fast as possible and grinding two simultaneous lines, but reducing your reaction-time window and potentially trapping yourself in the process. All that said, traveling between sectors and going fast ultimately serves a greater purpose.
The Freeway mode is where Light Trax sheds any trappings of being a racing game and becomes pure twitch-based action puzzler. Once you have linked together all sectors of the freeway, it serves as the game's 'endless' mode. Your goal is to go until you run out of time while racking up as many points as you can. You begin the mode with five minutes on the clock and will be given many an opportunity to gain extra time; precious time in which to get points.
In this mode you earn points in two ways. First, if you are grinding (directly adjacent to) a line at the point when you officially move past the front of that line (overtaking the line), you earn points depending upon which gear you're in when that occurs (10 points, 20, 40, 80, 160, and 320). Second, reaching a bonus sector will earn you a lump sum of points; 5000 if the bonus sector is one sector removed from your current location, and 10000 if the bonus sector is twice removed.
Bonus time is achieved from the same two points sources just listed. If you are directly adjacent to a (randomly occurring) rainbow colored flashing line when you pass it, you earn 10 bonus seconds. Reaching the bonus sector will also earn you extra time; 60 seconds if the bonus sector is one sector removed from your current location, and 120 seconds if the bonus sector is twice removed.
In order to earn the most possible points, and even begin to accumulate time faster than it naturally depletes, reaching and maintaining sixth gear speed is the key. Not only will it net you 320 points by overtaking a line, but you will reach bonus sectors faster. That said, it will still be very necessary to drop down to lower gears for safety, particularly as line traffic becomes more cluttered and visibility becomes skewed approaching on/off-ramps, or in actual sectors. Always remember it is always more important to earn bonus time and retain access to sixth gear than it is to earn points.
The depth of strategy of this mode is truly staggering once you get a good feel for it. The score counter consists of six digits, but I'm unsure if the highest possible score is 999999. I've gotten almost halfway to that mark, and good luck to anyone who might try to reach or push beyond it. It helps to have one of this generation's finest soundtracks along for the ride, with the game audio cycling trough the game's tracks whenever you hit an on/off-ramp.
The game also has three other main menu options: Staff Credits (unlocked by completing Hyperlight Tours mode), Cruise, which is basically Freeway but without time limits or damage, and Demo, which shows you the controls and how to play (along with awesome music). As the game is more of a puzzle game than an actual racing game, there are neither online nor local multiplayer modes.
The game's soundtrack is composed by Hiromichi Fujiwara, and consists of a combination of electronic and chiptune music. It is, sadly, not for sale.
- Soroban (Lumina 1)
- U-Ha (Lumina 2)
- Korogi (Lumina 3)
- Computer (Spectra 1)
- Kappore (Spectra 2)
- Zanadu (Spectra 3)
- Bowy (Intensa 1)
- Vco (Intensa 2)
- Love Is (Intensa 3)
- Nice idea (Radia 1)
- tb-010 (Radia 2)
- Dreamkiller (Radia 3)
- Sleepwalker (Brillia 1)
- Horsemen (Brillia 2)
- Superplay (Brilla 3)
- Untitled (Freeway)
- Kawasaki (Freeway)
- Beatgether (Freeway)
- Mikado (Freeway)
- Gamemusic (Demo)