I got this game almost for free thanks to some Gamestop points and a gift card so now I finally get to see what Nick is up to in the racing circuit. Unfortunately I can confirm that they weren’t up to a whole lot because the game is really not as impressive as you would expect. There just isn’t a whole lot to this game so it ends up feeling rather barren the whole time. There isn’t any real personality and it’s lacking in proper sound effects and replay value. Ultimately it doesn’t seem like it was quite ready for the challenge of trying to be the next Mario Kart but there is potential for sequel games.
When you jump in you’ve really just got two main options, free racing and the grand prixs. The gameplay is your classic 3D racing environment and it’s very much like Mario. You can drift with the R2 and L2 buttons and you pick up items along the track. Use them to smash up the competition and get to the goal. Of course the objective is to finish the race first and then you get the maximum amount of points. There are 4 races per cup but the final ones go up to 8. Each race is fairly quick though so you should blast through them. The difficulty level is also fairly basic. There is a lot of rubberbanding here though so when you’re ahead of the opponents be prepared for them to suddenly make a historic comeback to reach you.
I recommend keeping a boosting item on hand but don’t actually use it until you are close to the goal. That’s the best way to make sure that everything works out. It will work against any sudden surprises. The items have a decent amount of variety so I’ll give the game credit for having a ton of different items at the ready. It would have been real easy to have just had a few items so I appreciate their going the extra mile. I will also say that there are a reasonable amount of different stages here although they do tend to blend together a whole lot. I think it’s because of the slime that hits you in every level, it’s easy for the stages to start all looking the same once they’re covered in slime like that.
In terms of replay value I would say there is a good amount here because aside from the cups you also have unlockables in the form of each car part. You can get engines, wheels, tires, etc. There are a whole lot to buy and it takes a while to earn any money. The easiest way is to level up by winning a lot of races and I imagine that this will get more difficult the more you do it as well. So I expect this would be a fairly long grind by the end of it but it is nice to equip the parts and really feel the boost by the end. Each speed part definitely makes a difference when going up against the computers.
What this game is really lacking though are character voices, more cars, and more content in general. Customizing parts is nice but how about just giving us brand new cars each time instead? I think that would end up feeling a lot more fulfilling. Additionally I would also be on board with some kind of minigame mode similar to Mario Kart where you have another objective besides just the race. That could be do a lot to just make the game feel a little more expansive. Of course another big one is having more than 12 characters. That’s just not a big roster, particularly for a PS4 game. You feel like they could have done a whole lot more with this. I’d say Spongebob and TMNT individually could easily have way more than 12 characters when you think about it.
I think that would really be enough. At its core a racing game doesn’t have to be super fancy after all. Just put some wheels on the car and get us moving. That’ll be enough to do the trick in the end and everything else is about making it stand out. As a developer you want to be able to answer the question of: “Why should I play this instead of another racing game?” with some kind of definitive mechanic. It can be characters, fun levels, etc but you have to have something and right now I don’t think this one does have much of anything. I’ve played car games on the computer that felt like they had more depth but of course that could be my nostalgia goggles.
Overall, This was a good racing game but a bit more basic than I expected. It’s closer to the level of M&M Racing than Mario Kart which is a bit odd since you would expect this to be a big AAA title. That being said, I still did have fun. It’s just the kind of game that you would be having a lot of fun in short term rather than long term. If I bought this one day 1 then I’d probably have been far less pleased with the end result. For a few bucks though you can race as your favorite characters and earn a few trophies. I know there are 1-2 sequels out there so at some point I’ll grab them to see how they go. Who knows, if one of those adds a story mode it could really end up being the next big thing and that would be a lot of fun. Give me a quality story!
I have to say, Patrick’s face on the cover looks almost like Birdo’s from Mario. Just needs some eyelashes and a big bow.