Fruits and racing. Two things that should’ve never mixed but it did anyway. And it works! So start your engines, power up your juicers and grab a ton of fruits along the way to propel yourself into victory! The All-Star Fruit Racing crew paired with their own unique fruit powers and personalities race-off in a fight for the championship trophies in vibrant and fruity tracks that’s sure to make you drool at all those fruity goodness.
With games like Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing, Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed and CrazyKart, games that I have played ever since I started gaming, it’s not easy to hide that it’s a game with closely similar traits but despite all that, AFR managed to give it some distinction in the form of a fruit mixing element. Something that I find really important in this type of setting as you can brew your own concoctions and choose which one would work best in the right situations. Although with a setting like that, it does have its share of complexities and annoyances at some point. Since brewing one would take a few clicks on your face buttons then releasing it with another.
Similar to any kart-racing game, it works the same way with vibrant race tracks to choose from which are more fruit-based along with some gravity-defying tricks along the snake road or tunnels. The tracks, all 21 of them, are fun and offer tons of opportunities to showcase powerslides, one that I really enjoy in any racing game which also offers a slight boost afterwards. Although unlike the free-to-play game CrazyKart you can’t do powerslides for the entirety of the game which was most commonly referred to as Counter-Steering in which you can control whether to go left or right while sliding and without losing speed.
The tracks while vibrant and full of life, it does however feel a bit stale in comparison as there’s no hidden shortcuts or at least it’s too hidden for me to find that can be utilized to one’s advantage and provide an edge or get closer to the lead pack but it does have some other ways you can go through as long as you can avoid the obstacles that populates it whether it’s a rolling stone or huge barrels that can and will stop you in your tracks.
And speaking of playing catch-up, it’s fairly hard to do with the kind of setup the game has. The powers available in the game is decent but also very single target at most times and most of which requires aiming so a drifting kart has no chance of hitting its target unless you go out of a drift or slide just to hit one kart in front. It lacks the game-changing powers that other kart racers have which is something that I find is really crucial, otherwise you’ll be better off restarting the game, taking the lead early and keeping it that way as there’s not a lot of powers that can provide you with the kind of pressure that could get you out of the lead. Even with something like a character’s unique fruit superpower which can only be used until all the four fruit bubbles are filled with their respective color, it doesn’t provide much when someone’s already 20 seconds ahead of the pack.
There’s a handful of game modes, although I find it better if I don’t have to touch the other modes which ends up becoming more of an annoying experience than anything. Random Juicer, for example, is one such mode that is offered to casual players as you don’t have to choose which to use but forced to only use one that is chosen randomly by picking up a power-up along the track and that’s all good if it actually did it justice. Sadly, it’s one that is so random that most things you get don’t exactly help you in any way. You’re in the lead? Well, let me give you a tornado or a snowball to hit no one in the front. At best you’ll be wasting 4 out of 5 power-ups you get instead of having the random generator only provide you with power-ups that complement your position like defensive, traps or boosts. Juicer mode, however, my go-to mode as you’d be mixing your own juices that you get have to gather from the track to fill up their bars. Mixing is fairly simple too, green power-ups provide a boost, orange unleashes a frontal attack, blue activates a defensive mechanism and red lays down a trap. Mixing a green and blue provides a boost with a frontal defense while mixing a green, blue and orange would provide you with defense and ice pillars on the side for slowing karts after contact. Meanwhile, the superpower is only available when all four bars are filled. The third mode being Dragster is not what it sounds like though! It’s a mode where all your fruit meters fill up after some time and you are free to choose which combinations of power-ups to use given the situation. Not bad but sometimes a bit unfair depending on the character used. Lastly, there’s Elimination and Elimination Mix these modes, unlike the others, only require you to get ahead of the pack until one kart is left before it’s over. One thing I hate about this mode is the timers go off too fast and there’s barely enough time to gather fruits to make a comeback if you got behind early.
Aside from the characters that have their own unique powers, looks, and personalities, there’s also kart customization which lets you change specific parts and give you that unique look even if slightly. The karts itself feels too similar to one another if you take away their vibrant colors. Since it has only a few minor changes like three sizes of karts from small, medium and large although there is a handful of skins available, one that will not be seen from the back. A front bumper change as well as tire and rim types. Other than that there’s a flag accessory which you can choose from a multitude of fruits or country flags as well as other types that can be unlocked and different horn sounds. And speaking of unlockables there is quite a few from kart customization parts as well as new islands to new characters and all of them are fairly easy to complete.
Graphically-speaking there’s not much to say, the tracks are vibrant and full of color with interesting designs from the colorful snake road that offers more than just a road but some gravity-defying racing as well as obstacles like the blue layer of scales being closely similar to water that can slow you down. But if that’s not what you fancy, there’s a lot of high scale jumps which makes your character fly off their seats although I would’ve wanted if falling off the edge of tracks actually provide that much detail instead of having them instantly go back to the track without such animation of falling off. Moreover, each island in the game feels connected as you get to see the other tracks in some areas which makes it a bit more engaging to play and see the tiny details poured into the world. The background music of each track, however, is fun to hear and gets the job done that provides faster beats and increasing tempo once the final sprint and final lap turns in. This alone gives the urgency it needs for me to step on it before a random AI takes away the championship cup.
It’s a fairly fun game but not something that can make other kart-racing games a run for their money but it does do unique stuffs to the genre that I find amusing. Having control of your own power-ups is one thing I find really well rather than risking it all to RNG. Having 11 championship cups to go through, it provides enough time to get to know the track before tackling the big leagues in split-screen and online mode. And speaking of split-screen, my PS4 copy of the game suffers from data loss whenever I use another account that hasn’t been used for AFR. What happens here is my main save somewhat syncs with the other account used for split-screen thus having my next login to the game start in a tutorial with all progress lost. Somewhat a deal breaker but can be remedied by having a back-up save on a flash drive and also for some weird reason it only does it when there’s no save data on the other account at all, so at best, playing more than one race on split-screen (two or more just to be safe) won’t trigger the data loss. For 34.99 GBP, it doesn’t feel worth the trouble despite being a decent racing game