Cars: The Video Game is a video game that was released June 5, 2006. It was the first Pixar video game with a plot completely different to that of the movie, as it takes place after its events. Players take the role as Lightning McQueen, as he prepares for the next Piston Cup season, as well as racing new competitors.
The game is considered a sequel to the film of the same name. It is available on Mac, Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS.
The Wii version includes functionality geared towards its controller, and was a launch game. It, and most of the other console versions, also feature the voice-over cast from the Cars film.
One night, Lightning McQueen dreams of the Radiator Springs Grand Prix. He tells Sally about it the next morning, who tells him about Doc wanting to meet him at Willy's Butte and some visitors at Flo's interested in a race. Lightning meets the visitors, who indeed want to race with him, then goes to Willy's Butte to practice racing on dirt, while Sally races Mia, Tia, and Flo for a drive with Lightning. Next, Lightning heads to the first race of the Piston Cup season at Palm Mile Speedway where Chick boasts about potentially spending a lot of time ahead of him.
After the race, Lightning goes back to Radiator Springs where he tries some of Fillmore's new organic fuel, which he thinks can make him go faster and tests out in a race. He then heads to Sarge's Boot Camp where Sarge provides him with off-road training on his obstacle course, then in a race. This is followed by the next Piston Cup race, which is at Motor Speedway of the South.
Night has fallen by the time Lightning arrives back home. Mater teaches Lightning how to drive backwards while Sheriff challenges him to a rematch of the chase they had when Lightning first came to Radiator Springs. Following the race, Lightning goes to Ornament Valley where he finds Mater practicing for a race in the Rustbucket Stadium with his cousins. Mater wins the race and is awarded a boost tank, which he gives to Lightning as a present. He soon has a race with a group of race cars from Queens, New York: Vince, Barry, Sonny, and Lenny, before going to his next Piston Cup race at Sun Valley Raceway.
Lightning returns home again where he is ready to go out on the drive Sally won earlier. They drive up Tailfin Pass to the Wheel Well Motel, though the drive turns into a race. Following the race, Lightning spends some time exploring Tailfin Pass, though runs into trouble with the Delinquent Road Hazards, who block off the road for him. Lightning decides to settle the problem with a race in which they grant him access and a boost tank if he wins. After Lightning wins, Boost gives Lightning one of his boost tanks and he, DJ, Wingo, and Snot Rod drive away in frustration. Later, Lightning heads down to Ornament Valley where he finds the Queens race cars with Chick Hicks. After a race, Lightning tells Chick he will see him at the next Piston Cup race with Chick saying, "If you ever make it there", leaving Lightning puzzled.
Meanwhile, Mack was driving down Interstate 40 when the Delinquent Road Hazards show up and rob him of the cargo from his trailer, which Lightning needed for his next Piston Cup race. Mack reports this to Sheriff, who informs Lightning, who heads onto the Interstate and retrieves his cargo. The Delinquent Road Hazards are taken to the impound lot where they confess to their plan being Chick's idea. Lightning goes to Smasherville International Speedway for the next Piston Cup race. Before the race, he confronts Chick about the incident, though Chick denies being involved. Lightning defeats Chick in the race, then challenges him to a four-race competition involving three of the races, part of the Radiator Springs Grand Prix, being in Radiator Springs, Ornament Valley, and Tailfin Pass respectively and one last Piston Cup race at Los Angeles International Speedway.
Lightning defeats Chick in all four races and wins his first Piston Cup trophy. He puts his Piston Cup in front of Doc's clinic next to Doc's three Piston Cups, then goes off on a road trip with Mater and Sally.
- Lightning McQueen
- Sally Carrera
- Doc Hudson
- The King
- Chick Hicks
- Darrell Cartrip
- Mia and Tia
- Snot Rod
- Al Oft
- El Guapo
- Tommy Joe
- Count Spatula
- The Crippler
- Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen
- Larry the Cable Guy as Mater
- Paul Newman as Doc Hudson
- Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera
- Tony Shalhoub as Luigi
- Cheech Marin as Ramone
- Michael Wallis as Sheriff
- George Carlin as Fillmore
- Paul Dooley as Sarge
- Jenifer Lewis as Flo
- Guido Quaroni as Guido
- Richard Petty as Strip "The King" Weathers
- Michael Keaton as Chick Hicks
- Katherine Helmond as Lizzie
- John Ratzenberger as Mack
- Darrell Waltrip as Darrell Cartrip
- Lindsey Collins as Mia
- Elissa Knight as Tia
- E.J. Holowicki as DJ
- Adrian Ochoa as Wingo
- Jonas Rivera as Boost
- Lou Romano as Snot Rod
- Steve Purcell as the Tractors and Count Spatula
Playing as Lightning McQueen (either throughout the game or most of the time), you can explore around Radiator Springs or Ornament Valley. You can play certain challenges/minigames or play races against characters in Story Mode. You can also change paint of Lightning McQueen.
The PSP version of the game tells a different story in which Lightning challenges Boost, Wingo, DJ, and Snot Rod to a series of races in which they would have to leave Radiator Springs if he wins. The game ends with a rematch against Chick Hicks which was requested by the Tuner Cars to help them.
Besides telling a different story, there are other differences between the console versions and the PSP version:
- All of the characters introduced in the console version, as well as some of the characters from the film, such as the King, Darrell Cartrip, Mia, and Tia are completely absent. On the contrary, Red appears on the PSP version and not on the console version.
- Exploration mode is not featured.
- Luigi, Fillmore, Sarge, Lizzie, DJ, Boost, and Snot Rod are playable characters.
- Doc's alternative paint job as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet appears as a separate character.
- Turbo is unlocked from the beginning, unlike in the console versions where it has to be unlocked though out the course of the Story Mode.
Cars received mainly positive reviews. GameSpot gave 7.0 out of 10 for Xbox 360 and Wii versions, for PlayStation 2, 7.6 out of 10 for the GameCube and Xbox versions, and 7.4 out of 10 for the PSP version. Metacritic gave 65 out of 100 for the Wii version, 54 out of 100 for the DS version, 73 out of 100 for the PC version, 71 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version, and 70 out of 100 for the PSP version.
- According to Dan Scanlon and Steve Purcell, a lot of the characters introduced in the game were taken from ideas Pixar had for the film that never got passed.
- This marks the only roles in a video game for both George Carlin and Paul Newman.
- One of Doc's voice clips in the game, "You might want to take notes on this one.", which he says when passing other racers, would later be re-used in the flashback scene in Cars 3 where he is balancing a stack of objects on his hood.
- Despite being nearly identical in appearance, the Piston Cup racers in the game are different from the ones that appear in the film. One noticeable difference is their numbers. However, in the Xbox 360 version, most of the racers have the same numbers as the respective racers in the film carrying the same sponsor, but they still retain the same names as their video game counterparts.
- Music does not play in any of the cutscenes in the Xbox 360 version like it does on other consoles.