June 10, 2023

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Hot Wheels: Rift Rally Review – The Ultimate Remote Control Car

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally Review – The Ultimate Remote Control Car

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally brings your Hot Wheels collection to life.

Mixed reality experiences are becoming more popular and accessible. It is an exciting time where fandom, collecting, and technology are coming together in ways never before possible. Velan Studios and Mattel have joined forces to bring one of those experiences to life with our beloved Hot Wheels collection with Hot Wheels: Rift Rally. With this mixed reality experience, players/collectors are able to bring just about their entire Hot Wheels car collection to life in the real world through the aptly named “Chameleon” remote-controlled car.

Players choose their car and the Chameleon adapts its properties stats and even its look via augmented reality.

There are 3 key components to the experience. The car, the Chameleon, the track, and the actual game itself, Hot Wheels: Rift Rally. The way I did it, is I set up my track, via the pylons provided, then loaded up the game, connected the Chameleon, then loaded up a car, and drove through the pylons to program the track into the game. Now For all levels and game modes, the track is set. So all levels and game modes will be programmed to that track and setup until you decide you want to change it up. It sounds complicated, but the setup guide is very intuitive and after the first attempt it becomes second nature.

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally’s Chameleon

Hot Wheels: Rift Rally

I’ve had a few remote control cars in my day. The Tantrum and Sidewinder are particular favorites, something about a car that can’t be flipped over. But the Chameleon outclasses those cars in every way. It’s faster, the battery lasts way longer, and it is far more intuitive to operate. It’s great when you have a turbo button at actually makes the car go

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RC Car

Hot Wheels Rift Rally Turns Your Home Into a Mixed-Reality RC Stunt Track

A few years ago, Nintendo’s real-life-meets-video-game Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit turned my pandemic home into a theme park racecourse for my kids. Now, Mattel and Hot Wheels have created a new mixed-reality game for remote-controlled cars with Mario Kart Live developer Velan. 

Hot Wheels Rift Rally, arriving March 14 for $130, is an RC car video game that races around on your real-world floor.

And just like Mario Kart Live, it’s a lot of fun.

You need a Nintendo Switch to play Mario Kart Live, but Hot Wheels Rift Rally works with iPhones, iPads and the PlayStation 4 and 5. It can cross-play between them, either locally or with others online.

A white and red RC race car from Hot Wheels, with a camera on top of its body

Hot Wheels Rift Rally is an RC car video game with a camera built in to stream racing to your phone or TV, with mixed-reality effects.

Scott Stein/CNET

I played with the Rift Rally for about an hour in New York. The concept is similar to Mario Kart Live: A camera-enabled RC car streams its point of view to your TV or Apple device. From there, you drive the car and see the real world augmented with all sorts of video game special effects and a glowing race track.

The twist with Rift Rally is that the car itself, a sort of futuristic compact race car called the “Chameleon Car,” can transform in-game into 140 different Hot Wheels cars. It works weirdly well. Even though the physical car drives around your home the same way, in-game you see a different car appear, along with different driving physics and speeds.

Hands holding an iPhone with a game controller on, playing a racing game

Rift Rally works on iOS with or without a controller: We played with an iPhone that had a Backbone snapped on.

Scott Stein/CNET

Much like Mario Kart Live, the camera-equipped car works along with four included gates that form

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RC Car