Sing it with me! Jay Is Gamers sing this song! Doo-dah! Doo-dah! Online race-track nine miles long! Oh the doo-dah day!... Okay the track in The Race, a multiplayer action advergame developed by Akestam.Holst and Plan8 for Swedish horse-racing board ATG, measures only about eight inches and the horses are the size of a nickel. But the chance to take on jockeys from all over the world should no doubt keep those camp-town ladies singing.
The Race starts with you being assigned one of six horses, each having various stats that will determine its performance in the competition to come. Once the other five slots are filled either with human or CPU competitors, the starting bell sounds... and they're off! There are several ways to move your horse forward. The most constant requires typing keys on the keyboard: a graphic is displayed that divides the keyboard into Red, Green, and Blue areas. When a color card pops up, type a couple of keys from the proper section to advance. Also, using the mouse to answer trivia questions and click popping-up carrots will give your nag a burst of speed. Finally, if you have your microphone enabled, you can make a specific cheer to drive your horse on. First to cross the finish line wins... and, should you have your webcam enabled, you just might see yourself in the photo-finish! Note: The Scandinavian Keyboard is slightly different from the QWERTY Keyboard, though the position of the keys generally remain the same. If all else fails, you can type [A]-[Z] for red, [G]-[B] for green, and [O]-[P] for blue. It's less complicated than it sounds.
With its steam-punk carnival aesthetics and quirky mechanics, The Race is one of the most unique casual game releases of the year. Naturally, it's more fun to play against other people than a computer, especially with international bragging rights at stake, but even against a computer, there's a air of breezy fun. The shiny surface gimmickry pulls a lot of weight to make up for the slightly-shallow gameplay, but whether you win, place, or show, The Race has charm to spare.