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THE INSIDE TRACK – chapter 4


Hello hello, Turbochargers!

Happy to see me so soon? I bet you are, because this is our last appointment and I want to do things big: no more hide-and-seek, no ambushes, nothing of the sort. I’m no longer the person I once was.

Pomposity detected. Processing… a perfect match. Some things never change, annoying reporter.

Shush. You won’t ruin the moment, B.o.C., not this time. Now, where was I? Ah, yes. To thank all of you, I prepared something special: not one, not two, but three VIPs will be my guests tonight, here in the studio. Two of them even got here before me today!

«We’re always ahead of time! How can we call ourselves racers, otherwise?»

Miss Darla! Such a pleasure to have you here. How about a selfie, to celebrate the moment?

«How can I say no to my number one fan?»

This alone could make my day. But where’s Mr. Robert? I thought he was with you.

«He was. But you know him, he can’t resist a Hot Wheels™ vehicle when he sees one. And you got a pretty good model parked out of the building. Don’t worry, he’ll join us in three… two… one…»

«I’m here, I’m here! Sorry, but a Prototype H-24? Didn’t expect to see it, it’s so cool! Is it yours?»

Ah, that one. I was wondering what you were talking about. Seems our last guest is here, too.

«Wait, are you for real? How did you manage to get in contact with him?»

Heh, glad you appreciate the effort, Miss Darla, but professionals never tell their secrets.

Checking database… The annoying reporter simply sent an email. If you want to know the details-

I swear I leave you with no recharge for a week if you say another word.

«Good evening. Am I interrupting something?»

Mr. Caletti! No, of course not, don’t mind it. Thank you for your time and for joining us.

«Pleasure is mine. Darla, Robert, it’s nice to see you again after so long.»

Right, you know each other!

«Know? Buddy, he’s the one who wanted us for the major roles in the story!»

And that’s exactly why we’re here. Please, take a seat. We can start whenever you’re ready.

«Ladies first. Darla, the stage is yours.»

«You don’t mind, do you?»

«Look at her! Her eyes are almost sparkling.»

«Says the one who goes crazy every time he sees a Hot Wheels vehicle. Anyway, where to start. Me and Robert practically grew up together, sharing the same dream: becoming the best racers out there. Or, at least, among the best. He’s always been the reckless one, you know? Ready to get into quarrels, whenever he had the chance. No one believed he could ever become a brilliant racer, but I did.»

«You and your fists. Jeez, you were scarier than me when you got mad. You still are, in fact.»

«What was the name? Ah, yes, the “Red Gale”. For a time, I used it during my very first races.»

You started to race when you were young, right Miss Darla?

«Are you implying something here, my dear

«C’mon, D, you’re not that young anymore. And, you said yourself, it’s a good thing.»

«Did I mention he also had a knack for making situations worse? Michele, say something.»

«My lips are sealed. But I think it’s pretty clear why I want Robert and Darla to be our stars.»

There’s indeed a lot of chemistry between them!

«I never expected to be starred for such a role, and I’m sure Robert felt the same.»

«Totally! It was like, I don’t know, my first podium: I was so…excited but also stunned.»

«You kept your mouth open any longer and you would have caught flies!»

«Look who’s talking. You weren’t any better, you were already thinking about how to fill your Wheelgram profile with backstage reels and stuff!»

«Fan loyalty, Robert. These are the bases, I told you a gazillion times.»

How did you find out about Miss Darla and Mr. Robert? I mean, there’s no shortage of Hot Wheels enthusiasts in our city. No offense, of course, I’m just curious and so is our audience.

«Having a story for our second game was pretty much the first thought when we started thinking about what to do next. But it was like, you know, something was missing in that colorful stage that was – and still is – Hot Wheels Unleashed™: we had the tracks, the cars, the city, the bosses… the only missing pieces were the main characters. And what is a story without its main characters?»

«Couldn’t agree more.»

«We discussed it with Mattel and found out about their web series. Initially, our story was supposed to be a spin-off of that universe but we found ourselves faced with two obstacles: it’s never easy to work on something that you didn’t write in the first place, considering the varied cast and knowledge of lore that we couldn’t insert entirely into the game; secondly, the web series is very much children-oriented, while our game is open to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.»

«I know that series. I caught Professor watching it a few times.»

«Say that again?»

«He said he was curious about the evil mastermind and wanted to determine how much genius he was. You know what it’s like when one genius meets another, even on a virtual level.»

Ahem. So you decided to make your own universe, instead of trying to squeeze ideas into something that could have not worked out well. It’s a fair approach, all considered.

«Exactly. Our game has action at full speed, hence the need for main characters that would have fit well, plus some supporting ones. Four would have been perfect: two main, and two support. We had all of them perfectly in mind, it was time to search for the ones in the city who could fit the roles. I’ve heard about the Hot Wheels Racing Team, they were quite famous: I reached out to Darla thanks to her Wheelgram account, while Robert was a little more difficult to get in contact with.»

«I literally clogged your phone with calls and messages, and you noticed them hours later!»

«Hey, I was busy, you know? Doing really important stuff.»

«Sure. Fool someone else. You’re not like that Cobill guy who almost lost a role in a major film-»

«Because he was playing video games, exactly. If he can, why can’t I?»

«So you were playing, after all!»

«Of course, it was the last time attack to beat!»

«As you can see, they were perfect for what I had in mind. They’re naturals. But the real acid test would have been behind the wheel: we needed captivating and charming characters, but not too much idealized. Everyone could have imagined themselves in their shoes, and be heroes – or simply really fortunate people who manage to guide a lot of Hot Wheels. More importantly, we needed ones who knew their way through stressful situations. You know, high speed, big monsters…»

«Man, those animatronics were soooo good! Do you still have them in your studio?»

«Naturally. Feel free to pay us a visit anytime! Anyway, I spoke to both Robert and Darla, explaining the project and why I thought they were the best choice. What I didn’t know is that they also had someone to introduce who could have played the so-called antagonist.»

«Poor Professor, so clumsy and yet so perfect for the role.»

«XR046 he didn’t stop teasing him. I think he confiscated all its reserves of its favorite oil for a week.»

«As funny as it may seem, Professor Tanabe’s clumsiness suited our needs perfectly: we needed an antagonist but we couldn’t afford to give them a proper screentime to deepen them. How to solve this? “Easy”. Let someone be an antagonist by accident, making them the one behind the real deal: the monsters. They are the true enemy but we can still have an origin story to build a background.»

«Professor loved the idea. I still remember him saying „This way I will be more brilliant than him while remaining one of the good guys”.»

«Should we tell him…?»

«No, let him live out his fantasy.»

Well, I’m afraid our time is almost over! I think we can use these last minutes to answer a few questions from our fans if you’re okay with it.

«Gimme your best shot!»

This has been asked by some enthusiasts, who were very impressed by your style. Your style is so cool, guys! It reminds me of Acceleracers: were you inspired by its racers?

«You have a keen eye! When it comes to style, I personally always go for the best: the Hot Wheels Racing Squad put out an internal contest to choose our new uniforms and after a little debate, here we are. It suits me, doesn’t it? Even D admitted it.»

«I didn’t admit that.»

Miss Darla, this one is for you. Well, we received a lot of questions like this so… uhm… yeah. I try to…

«Are you blushing?»

NO! I mean, no, I’m not. Here we go. This comes from several of our fans. Darla, will you marry me?

«I’m trying not to laugh, I swear.»

«That’s because you are as sensitive as a pebble. How nice of you to ask! Unfortunately, right now in my heart, there’s room for the Hot Wheels only. But don’t give up, maybe one day…»

Really?! I mean, you heard her Turbochargers: she’s very faithful to her work. Now, Mr. Caletti, some of your fans showed their appreciation for the previous game sometimes by going… let’s say, out of boundaries. We know that Hot Wheels Unleashed™ 2 – Turbocharged will feature an anti-cheat system to protect the players and let them enjoy the game. However, some expressed their concern regarding the use of mods: there’s no specific question, but I think a word from you might be good.

«Yes, I’m aware of this concern. From my end, we strongly advise against the use of mods precisely because of our new anti-cheat. This system has been specifically designed, as you said, to safeguard players from any unfair advantages that may be gained through file modifications, such as in races or any unintended alterations not endorsed by the developers. I want to clarify that engaging in such activities is done at your own risk. The same goes for the Track Builder, where limitations have been implemented to ensure optimal performance across all platforms, as some members of the community have highlighted. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation on the matter.»

Well, an exhaustive answer indeed, as well as a fine way to end this amazing evening! It has been a wonderful journey with you all. Now it’s your turn to show us what you can do!

«See you on track, Turbochargers!»