Negative Gamer Review: Wacky Karts (Xbox Indie Games)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in posession of an Xbox 360 must be in want of a kart racer. Well actually a single man in posession of an Xbox 360 is probably in want of a sex life but in lieu of such a thing I settled for a free code from Krollware and took Wacky Karts for a spin. With up to 4-player split screen competitive play, a battle mode and visuals straight out of 1992 it’s clearly targeted at those with a sense of nostalgia for 16-bit kart racers of old. The question is whether or not Wacky Karts can carve out its own niche or remain in the shadows of its obvious inspiration.
“Oh, oobee doo I wanna be like yoo-hoo-hoo, I wanna walk like you, talk like you too-oo-o”
For the vast majority of the time I spent with Wacky Karts it felt remarkably similar to the first Super Mario Kart game back on the SNES. It’s hard to say so without sounding pointlessly accusatory but it just comes across as a derivative game with nothing new to add to the genre. The levels take the same themes present in the Mario Kart franchise and the power-ups perform the same functions. I will concede that the characters are, if not original, then at least an original combination of archetypes. Nevertheless from the tournament structure, the tracks and the shameless aping of Mario Kart’s battle mode there is very little in the way of truly original content on offer.
I feel the need…the need for speed
Despite its derivative feel, I still had fun with Wacky Karts but only on a handful of it’s 16 tracks. Arcade and kart racing games thrive on a visceral sense of speed and I definitely experienced that at times. When the game gives you the means to maintain your speed, particularly on the first ice-themed track, it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately that sense of speed doesn’t persist through all of the tracks. On early levels the longer straights and gentler turns fail to excite and the tightly winding later levels can be frustrating and slow. Particularly obnoxious were the moments where one mistake snowballed into another. I found myself hitting one hazard, being slowed to the point where I couldn’t make it all the way over a subsequent jump and landing in another hazard. I found these moments quite jarring in what appeared to be a simple, light-hearted racing game.
Ain’t no fun if the homies can’t get none
I can’t say that I spent much time with the multiplayer and only managed to persuade one of my friends to sit through a few races. Even in that short space of time, we realised what a joyless experience the multiplayer mode is. Without the presence of AI competitors in split screen play, the 2-player races I tried out felt lifeless and empty. If I could afford four Xbox 360 controllers maybe a four-player game would be more entertaining but I seriously doubt it. The ‘battle’ mode was equally underwhelming with two players although I’m confident that it would be much more enjoyable with four. These flaws are rendered even more glaring when taking into consideration that there’s no online multiplayer available, something which would have improved the experience to no end.
Some other points worth mentioning…
- A comment on the Krollware website indicates that online functionality may be added at a later date. I would gladly update the score to reflect that decision if it were implemented.
- At 400 MS points, Wacky Karts is at the top end of Xbox Indie Game pricing.
You should play this game if…
… you have fond memories of Super Mario Kart but no access to a Nintendo console from the past four generations.
A functional but dull emulation of a far superior franchise.