Lightning McQueen is hosting an international championship in Radiator Springs, to celebrate the construction of his new racing stadium and headquarters. While reporting about the event on television, Mater forgets his lines and calls it the "Mater-National Championship." Several international racing superstars arrive in Radiator Springs and befriend McQueen, including Giovanni, an Italian Ferrari, Otto Von Fassenbottom, a German endurance racer, Gudmund, a charismatic Swedish competitor, and Koji, a Japanese drift racer.
Meanwhile at the Rustbucket Stadium, a young rally car named Emma has arrived to compete in the Rustbucket demolition derby races. Mater and his cousins take an interest in her, and Mater and Emma soon become friends, with Mater eventually winning the Rustbucket final.
McQueen hosts a series of races at his stadium, with Otto competing in the first, and Gudmund joining in the second. The friendly rivalry between Giovanni and McQueen is settled during the third Stadium Race, with the latter placing first. After McQueen's victory, the two agree to a rematch, this time in a Relay Race. McQueen wins the race, and he and his friends drive back to his headquarters, where a group photo is taken to remember the championship.
Cars: Mater-National Championship is a racing game, and allows the player to use a variety of techniques and controls to emerge victorious in a competition against other vehicles. Races generally contain 5-9 contestants, and there are many different types, including Road Races, Stadium Races, Rustbucket Races, and more.
Many elements return from Cars: The Video Game, in addition to a variety of new features. A new racing mode called Luigi and Guido's Team Relay allows players to take control of more than one vehicle in a given race, with each car completing a lap. This game also introduces Monster Truck Waypoint Races, in which competitors must race against each other while also driving through a number of checkpoints.
In addition to races, there are also several minigames available, including the return of Tractor Tipping, in which Mater or McQueen must drive around and tip Tractors while avoiding Frank. Players can also help Ramone move to music in Ramone's Rhythmic Rumble, play a game of tag in Doc and the Law's Race 'n' Chase, navigate Mater home in Ghosting Mater, race while using fuel wisely in Fillmore's Fuel Frenzy, or take control of Mike or Sulley in their competition to collect Laugh Canisters in Mike and Sulley's Last Laugh.
- Accelerate: The player's car will continue to pick up speed until it has reached the top speed.
- Brake: The player's car will steadily decrease in speed until it has been brought to a complete stop.
- E-Brake: The car will quickly come to a complete stop.
- Steer: The car will turn left or right, depending on which the way the analog stick or D-Pad is being pushed.
- Powerslide: The car will take turns more swiftly, making sharper turns less of an obstacle.
- Tilt: The car will tilt so it is balanced on one side, allowing for sharper turns than powerslides. However, the top speed is significantly lowered upon performing a tilt.
- Jump: The car will perform a small hop that can be used to jump over other competitors or obstacles.
- Boost: The car will perform a quick boost of speed to help it gain a lead or catch up to other racers. While the player starts off with only one boost segment, two more can be unlocked as the story mode progresses. The second segment is unlocked by completing Stadium Race #1, and the third segment is unlocked by completing Stadium Race #2.
The Story Mode takes players through the game's storyline, while they complete events to progress. There are various types of events, including different types of races and minigames. Upon meeting specific criteria during an event, the player is rewarded with a number of Bolt Banners, which indicate the player's progress. There are a total of 350 Bolt Banners to collect in the game.
In between events, the player may drive around Carburetor County, unlocking new areas as the story mode progresses. Radiator Springs is unlocked from the start of the game, while Ornament Valley is unlocked once Stadium Race #1 is won, and Tailfin Pass is unlocked when Stadium Race #2 is won. By exploring, players can find and collect Bonus Points to purchase items at Ramone's House of Body Art, as well as additional collectibles such as Paint Cans and Wheel Sets. The amount of space to explore is significantly smaller than in Cars: The Video Game, and many areas used in races are blocked off by "Road Closed" signs. The hub worlds have received changes from their appearances in Cars: The Video Game, including the construction of an airport in Ornament Valley, and the creation of new cliffside roads in Tailfin Pass. If the player is having difficulty progressing, they may receive a hint by pausing the game.
Unlike in the first game where the story is broken up into five different chapters, Cars: Mater-National Championship's story is split into three different sections, each one taking place in one of the three areas of Carburetor County. Each area contains three Road Races and a Luigi and Guido's Team Relay race, with a variety of additional events unique to each area. The player controls Lightning McQueen throughout most of the game, while occasionally playing as other characters, including Mater, Doc, Ramone, Flo, Fillmore, Monster Mater and Mike.
In the Arcade mode, players can play any race they have unlocked in story mode. However, instead of being restricted to racing as Lightning McQueen, there are seventeen playable characters available for the player to use, although some must be purchased with Bonus Points first. Minigames are also available, though the playable character roster is usually limited to only one or two characters. In all race types, the player's opponents include the other selectable characters, with the exception of Rustbucket Races, which instead will put the player against Fred, Mater's six cousins, and sometimes Mater, Emma, or even Lightning McQueen.
In addition to a selection of characters, any Paint Jobs that have been purchased at Ramone's House of Body Art or obtained by collecting Paint Cans in Story Mode can be selected.
Versus mode is essentially the same as arcade mode, but with the ability for two players to compete against each other, as well as a selection of computer racers. Additionally, minigames can be played, which all feature 1v1 mechanics, in which the first player will face the second player. In most versions of the game, Versus mode will only be enabled on the main screen when two controllers are plugged in or turned on. The amount of events playable in Versus mode is slightly fewer than in Arcade mode.
Many options can be viewed or modified here, such as game volume, control settings, and screen display. The following cheat codes can also be entered here:
|VRYFAST||Grants access to the Expert difficulty.|
|ZZOOOOM||Gives the player umlimited boost.|
|0TO200X||Allows the vehicle to accelerate very quickly.|
|ALLYORS||Unlocks all game content, excluding Story Mode events.|
|MATTEL07||Unlocks all characters.|
|NCEDUDZ||Unlocks all of Lightning's paint jobs.|
|PAINTIT||Unlocks all Paint Jobs for every character except Lightning.|
|PLAYALL||Unlocks all Arcade and Versus events and Story Mode areas.|
|INSTYLE||Unlocks all Wheel sets and Luigi's Casa Della Tires.|
|BUYTALL||Unlocks all bonus art.|
When "Profile" is selected, one's profile can be modified by saving or deleting. Additionally, players can create new profiles or load existing ones.
The Bonus Content feature lets players purchase various unlockable content with Bonus Points collected in story mode or earned during Arcade or Versus events. Unlockable characters may be purchased here, along with paint jobs for already obtained characters. Most paint jobs range from 2,000 to 20,000 points to purchase, while characters range from 20,000 to 60,000. Concept art of characters and environment, along with some extra miscellaneous art, can also be purchased.
There are seventeen playable characters in Cars: Mater-National Championship, with five of them being unlockable - Otto, Gudmund, Koji, Emma and Giovanni. These characters can be unlocked by purchasing them with a number of Bonus Points from Ramone's House of Body Art in the Bonus Content menu option.
|Image||Name||Stats||Cost in Bonus Points|
|Monster McQueen||Boost: 3|
|Monster Mater||Boost: 2|
Additionally, Red can be seen driving around a house in Tractor Tipping, as well as using his hose to provide a waterfall during North Willy's Butte. A number of tourists are also found driving around Radiator Springs during story mode.
Luigi and Guido's Team Relay
Monster Truck Waypoint Races
The game has received mostly mixed to positive reviews. On the review site Metacritic, the PlayStation 3 version of the game has received a Metascore of 63/100, indicating mixed or average reviews overall, while receiving a user score of 4.8/10, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." Metascores for the other versions of the game include 69/100 for the Nintendo DS version, 58/100 for the Xbox 360 version, and 67/100 for the PlayStation 2 version.
Gamestyle gave the game a 4/10 rating, because of the smaller exploring space, the smaller Radiator Springs, and called the handling of the vehicle constant. PSXExtreme gave the game a 7.0, praising the better audio, but criticized the graphics. IGN rated the Nintendo DS version of the game 6.8/10.0, calling it "cute" and "kid-friendly" but "never made into 5th gear".
- For this subject's list of beta elements, see Cars: Mater-National Championship/Beta elements.
Multiple characters have playable data inside of their directories, and can be loaded into the game via hacking. These characters include Mia, Fletcher, Philip, Yuri, Sheriff, Lenny, Count Spatula, Judd, Buford, and Lewis.
- For this subject's list of staff, see Cars: Mater-National Championship/Staff.
- For this subject's list of glitches, see Cars: Mater-National Championship/Glitches.
Out of sync voices
Sometimes a character will say a line of dialogue without their mouths moving, particularly by AI drivers. Characters may move their mouths without saying anything, as well. This glitch is present in all versions of the game.
Luigi and Guido's Team Relay 2 glitch
In the "Luigi and Guido's Team Relay 2" glitch, when the player enters the second lap, sometimes it will then display an AI character almost an entire lap ahead of them, though they are technically still behind them. This glitch is present in all versions of the game.
Team Relay 3 selection glitch
If the player selects the event icon for Team Relay 3 while going at 99mph, the game will begin to emit a screeching noise, the sound depending on what speed the player is currently at.
References to other media
- Cars: Many of the characters introduced in this movie re-appear in the game.
- Cars: The Video Game: Many of the characters introduced in this game re-appear in this game. The open world is also heavily inspired by the open world featured in this game.
- Mater and the Ghostlight: The Ghosting Mater minigame is based off of this short.
References in later media
- Cars: Race-O-Rama: Many of the paint jobs featured in the game make a return.
- Cars: Fast as Lightning: The Ornament Valley Airport returns as an unlockable building.
- For this subject's image gallery, see Cars: Mater-National Championship/Gallery.
|High Speed Heist|
|One More Chicken|
Title in other languages
|Polish||Auta: Mistrzostwa Złomka||Cars: Mater's Championship|
|Russian||Тачки: Новый Сезон||Cars: New Season|
- Otto, Koji and Emma's designs were later parodied and copied into the short, Tokyo Mater as three background characters - Manji, Tabinu and Cho.
- The Game Boy Advance version was one of the last games to be released for the Game Boy Advance, and has a password system.
- This is the only game where Lightning McQueen can appear as a computer opponent in Rustbucket Races in Arcade mode, as well as the only game where none of the main story events are mini games.
- This is the only Cars video game to not feature Chick Hicks.