Avatar Grand Prix
This game is no longer available to purchase
Avatar Grand Prix is a 3D racing game for the Xbox 360 that allows you to race your Avatar across 8 themed tracks against up to 7 other cars, up to 3 of which can be your friends in split screen multiplayer mode. There are two separate tournaments to race in - a Grand Prix which allows racing on all tracks against the best computer cars, or a single-player Time Trial in which you are against the clock. Or there's always Quick Race mode, where you can decide the number of cars, speed, laps, grid positions and power ups for yourself! In Grand Prix mode, each track has a qualifying lap where the fastest times determine the starting order of the cars on the grid.
The game was one of Battenberg Software's best-selling for the Xbox 360, and was praised for its multiplayer and AI. A year and a half after its release, it paved the way for Avatar Grand Prix 2 which featured 12 new tracks and online multiplayer.
There are loads of features to the game, including:
  • Test Drive - A tutorial which provides a great way to get used to the controls before you start.
  • Multiple Speeds - All races can be raced at 50cc, 100cc or 150cc so you can master the game with slower cars before building up to the fast ones.
  • Power-ups - Speed boosts, mines, question marks, rockets, lightning and shields. It's not just about pure speed, it's about taking as many people out as you can! Power ups can be turned on or off, or can be set to "insane" (try it and see!).
  • Mirror and Reverse Mode - Once you know all the tracks like the back of your hand, try them in mirror! Then reverse. Then reverse mirror.
  • Track Records and Ghost Cars - The fastest time for any given track at any given speed at any given orientation (mirror, etc.) is stored, and with each of these you can race a "ghost" of your fastest lap.
Avatar Grand Prix was released for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games in August 2010, and remained on the marketplace until it closed in October 2017. The game is no longer available, but you can still re-download it if you purchased it previously.
Here are some screenshots from the game. Click on them to view larger versions. You can also download the soundtrack to the game for free here.
Avatar Grand Prix contains 8 tracks of varying length and difficulty. Here is a brief guide to what you can expect from them...
Track 1 - Mountain Mile
The first track you'll race in each of the tournaments, Mountain Mile is a relatively simply circuit, which is a good place to practice your driving skills. The track starts with a sharp climb so getting a good start for the early advantage will really help, and there are still a number of tricky turns to navigate before the long finishing straight.
Track 2 - Retro Run
With many colourful references to a number of classic arcade games (including some of Battenberg Software's finest!), Retro Run is a short track with a deviously tight 360-degree turn. With plenty of off-track areas, be careful not to stray too far off the centre of the track and lose speed - the track is short, so mistakes will be costly. And sometimes a deliberate "bounce" off a wall is the quickest way around...
Track 3 - Desert Dash
The first of two desert tracks, Desert Dash is a small, fairly flat track with a number of sweeping turns. The angles on each of these are exactly the same, so it's not too bad to master a consistent drifting angle, which is the key to defeating the computer cars. With a few blind turns, it's great for placing sneaky power-ups too!
Track 4 - Speedway Circuit
Shaped like a classic British Speedway track, this is a deceptively simple racecourse where the slightest mistake can easily cost you positions and valuable seconds. Drifting a tight inside line around the corners is essential here, and quick reactions to avoid other cars' power-ups will help you. This is also the most fun track to use "insane power-ups" on; try it with 8 cars over 10 or so laps!
Track 5 - Sandy Straights
Sandy Straights is a large desert track where the bends are much more gradual than on the other tracks, making drifting more difficult (hint: or not always necessary). For this reason it tends to be a track the computer cars have difficulty with, so use this to your advantage. It is the first track of the second half of a tournament, and is a good place to pick up those grand prix points.
Track 6 - Rocky Road
The second mountain track in the game, Rocky Road is more compact and has much sharper turns than Mountain Mile. Starting with a sharp climb under a bridge, the track then turns sharply and goes back over itself. Brief respite in the form of a long straight comes before another climb and steep drop to the finish. The computer cars tend to race this one well - getting those extra few seconds of drift will give you the advantage.
Track 7 - Racecourse Challenge
By far the largest track in the game, Racecourse Challenge is a constant road of twists and turns where a lapse in concentration can cause you to go straight into a wall. With a slightly wider track than most, the computer cars make few mistakes and can only be beaten by pure speed... and keeping on the drift for as long as possible. Don't try to memorize the track, just look as far ahead as you can to the next turn!
Track 8 - Rainbow Raceway
The most complex-shaped track in the game, Rainbow Raceway will test your Avatar Grand Prix skills to the limit. Starting with a seemingly never-ending spiral (the angle of which changes during the turn itself), a long, uneven straight follows before the final 270-degree bend to the finish. Try to avoid the edges of the track, particularly when climbing as you'll lose way too much speed, and apart from that just hang on and try not to get a headache!
As we all know there's something extremely satisfying about completely taking out an opponent during a race in order to snatch victory from the jaws of otherwise certain defeat. In a similar manner, there's something immensely frustrating about being the other car in that scenario, and seeing your chances of winning the race blow up (sometimes literally) before your eyes as an opponent speeds by. It's not always fair, but it's always huge amounts of fun. Avatar Grand Prix recognises this, and has therefore included these power-ups for your amusement and annoyance...
Speed Boost
Gives you that extra speed advantage for a couple of seconds, which can be crucial to get past opponents. Best used on a long straight, as it can actually hinder progress if used on a bend - at best over-compensation of drifting will cancel it out and at worst an unwelcome crash into the wall will result.
Can be left anywhere on the track, and will cause anyone who hits it to explode, stopping them for a couple of seconds and making them lose all their momentum. Best left on blind bends or dropped right in front of another car so they have no chance of avoiding it.
Question Mark
Similar to the mine in that it can be placed anywhere on the track, but when a car hits a question mark their screen changes colour and turns upside down briefly. Doesn't actually have an effect on the controls, other than extreme confusion! There is no point placing one of these on a straight; a particularly tricky bend should do the job.
Arguably the most powerful weapon in the game, rockets can be fired forwards to take out other, unsuspecting cars and cause them to explode in the same way as the mine does. Accuracy is needed here and preferably a long straight where you can get in line with the car in front - the rocket always fires at exactly the angle you are driving. It will always stay the same height above the track, but will not turn corners - as soon as it reaches a wall it will explode. There is little that can be done to avoid a rocket - judicious use of the rear-view mirror may be your only hope. Rockets can also be used to destroy mines and question marks that have been left on the track.
Lightning causes all cars within a short radius of you to explode when it is activated. Other than the power up icon on-screen, there is no visible indication that a car has lightning, so victims tend to be oblivious of an impending attack. Best used in a crowd of cars, or just as you get near enough to the car in front for an easy overtake.
When activated, the shield will last for 10 seconds or so, and will prevent you taking any damage for one hit from a mine, question mark, rocket or lightning. After taking the hit or when the time runs out, the shield will disappear. Best used if there is any threat of an attack from another car.