Track Architect is a simple game that brings simple fun, much like a tiny wind-up car you might snag at a dollar store. The graphics are pretty basic and unexciting, the background music is initially catchy but gets a bit redundant after about five minutes, and your adorable clunker only faces left-to-right as it travels across the screen. Yet despite this rather mundane description, there is an innocent charm to this game- the kind of feeling you might get as you watch a child take an ordinary toy car on an imaginative adventure, hurtling over mountains and chasms along the way.
The 16 pre-designed tracks give you a taste of that adventure, as you race through accelerators, soar over jumps, careen off obstacles and tumble around the world in your indestructible vehicle. In many ways, this title allows you to visualize the fantasies of that child as you scoot towards the finish line, just like Excitebike did for me as a kid. While many of the levels weren't particularly challenging (though I can see a less-experienced gamer enjoying them more), they seem to exist merely to whet your appetite for creating your own custom tracks by giving you a few design ideas and familiarizing you with all the game elements.
Since it's the namesake feature of Track Architect, I'm glad that plotting your own courses is a relatively enjoyable endeavor. The level editor doesn't have a lot of options, but the interface is pretty straightforward. To start, you can make a track from scratch or work off the design of an existing track. You can lay down long or short track sections, accelerators, wooden planks, crates and giant balls all over the screen, then drop your little buggy in and take it for a spin. Though you can save and load your tracks locally, one rather regrettable omission is the ability to share your tracks with the rest of the XBL community, which would have added a lot more replay value to this offering.
Though I'm sad that fans of this game can't show off their creations to each other without being in the same room, I still think this is a fun title overall. It won't replace your Need for Speed collection, but if you're a fan of zipping around levels and testing out game physics, this one is worth a few MS points from between your couch cushions.