Automakers are using racing apps to reach out to gaming consumers, and Suzuki's entry is the free Kizashi Ring of Fire app for iPhone and iPad. It's also available to play online and on Suzuki's Facebook page, in which case an iPhone or iPad can be used as a remote control for the game via a technology developed by Brass Monkey. We tested the app using an iPad.
The game is based on a real-life Tokyo-to-LA promotional road trip that Kizashi took and features "fantasy" tracks along the way in Tokyo, Siberia, Alaska and Los Angeles. On the Tokyo and Sibera tracks players race a Kizashi SE, while on the Alaska and LA tracks they're in the Kizashi Sport GTS.
But we found that the game doesn't live up to what we've come to expect performance- and feature-wise from our well-liked long-term Kizashi.
First, the graphics on the iPhone and iPad are capable of much more than what the Ring of Fire game provides. Background images of the game are 2D and rotate, but there's no cockpit-view available. As for gameplay, one of our testers commented that the car "handled as if it were on ice," and constantly hit the sides of the track.
And while the game has four tracks, you have to place in the top three before racing on others. The Brass Monkey remote control technology is pretty neat, but does nothing to improve gameplay -- and is more of a cool gimmick than a useful addition to the game.
Too bad Ring of Fire doesn't rise to the standard set by the Kizashi itself, or doesn't measure up to other free automaker racing-game apps, like VW's Real Racing GTI. And we have to wonder if someone who is curious about the car may lose interest based on the lamer aspects of the Ring of Fire game.
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