Kart racers are not exactly the most popular genre any more, it was never really a popular genre to begin with, it sort of peaked in the 90’s with Micro machines, Twisted Metal, Mario Kart and I guess Crash Team Racing, And then sort of…disappeared with only Mario Kart continuing on the tradition with every new Nintendo console.
The biggest problem? Is that any time a new Kart racing game comes out it is instantly compared to Mario Kart, and if it in any way has similarities to Mario Kart, they are instantly highlighted and treated as a bad thing, look at modnation racing on PS3 to see what happens to anything that attempts to change the formula.
All-Star Fruit Racing is trying its hand at being the PC’s answer for a Kart Racing game, however aforementioned similarities always being identified, is this unique enough to be enjoyed, or is it Mario Kart Vitamin C edition.
Let’s get it out the way, this game is a kart racing game, with all the same tropes we are used too, it has power ups, boosts on the track and designs that make the levels very fun to play, and those are not areas that are owned by Mario Kart, they were done before it, and will be done after it also. However some gameplay aspects can be treated as such, drifting to build up boost? Yes, different stages of boost depending on how long you drifted for? Yes again.
However, there are key differences here, for one the power up system is not something that were used to seeing.
You can combo power ups together, when you collect the “fruit” on the race track, which is just power ups, you can choose to use or store in “The Juicer” on the car. This, as you collect more and more fruit can let you use a powered up version of the picked up power, or store for more to use a “Mega-juice” power up, a unique attack to each character you can play as.
Now, when I read this, I am guilty of thinking, huh bit like the specials in Mario Kart Double Dash, because just on paper this is how it will sound.
HOWEVER, the ability to merge power ups, create more powerful power ups by skilfully collecting the correct fruit as you go along is a fun concept, and one that can very quickly be the key to winning or losing an online match against other players than AI.
Now the most important aspect, does it feel good to actually drive the karts? This is where a lot of these games fail due to sloppy controls. In this aspect I think the game is SO CLOSE to being the sort of tight controls you would expect out of this sort of genre, and my only complaint is during drifting its far too easy to over drift and lose control. This is something every kart racing game seems to add, I don’t know if it’s because Mario Kart doesn’t add this, but we do not want the ability to over drift, it isn’t a fun concept, this isn’t a realistic simulator, so remove things that do not improve gameplay. Apart from that I feel the game handles and plays well, and almost reaches Mario Kart level of controls.
Graphically the game is quite impressive, I would argue that it is easily on the same level as Mario Kart 8, with very detailed levels to enjoy playing in. Though I would say that the karts themselves are a little…. samey with little in the way of variation outside of different coloured wheels. Whilst I would have enjoyed more customisation, it isn’t exactly game breaking, just more of a disappointment. My other gripe is that the karts themselves seem to…blend into the background, making it difficult sometimes to tell the difference between another player, especially with how hectic games like this can get, add this to a very flat design for every kart (Think Roll Cage for the older readers) it can very easily become difficult, something could be added to make other players “pop” more, and would be a benefit.
All-Star Fruit Racing is… a good attempt at a Kart game, it ticks all the boxes for a good Kart game, and ticks them really ******* well. However, some small niggles do bother me when playing, and as someone who loves drifting around corners to get the best time they are problems that really bother me. However with that being said, this is a working title, with the developers happy to accept criticism and update the game where needed , so hopefully this will go from an above average kart racing game, to a must need title for fans of the genre.