Review: Crazy Chicken Star Karts (Nintendo DS)

Crazy Chicken Space Karts
Genre: Racing
Developer: MumboJumbo
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Release Date: 06/11/09

Video game mascots have been around forever. While everyone knows about mascots such as Mario and Sonic, there are mascots from other countries that aren’t as familiar to American audiences. One of those mascots is a chicken known in Germany as Moorhuhn. If the name isn’t familiar that isn’t a surprise, there hasn’t been a game with Moorhuhn released in the United States until just recently. In Germany there are as many as 30 of the games, all developed by a company known for it’s development of casual games.

Of course every mascot needs a kart racing game. Again, see Mario, Sonic, Crash, and Donkey Kong. Heck, there’s even a Rocket Race mode in Halo. So as part of the first three games from Germany featuring Moorhuhn we get an regional release of Star Karts, with appropriate looking Star Wars themed box art.

Surely a mascot with the history and extensive library of games should be able to have a decent kart game right?

Right?

Well at least it tries. There are very few modes in Space Karts. Essentially there are only two modes, Story and Free Race. In the Story mode you race through different tracks, unlocking them. Unlike other kart games there is at least a mediocre attempt at a story. According to the game Moorhuhn created this cool shiny object before his retarded cousin wandered into his lab, caused a lab accident which sent the shiny thing into space and into the farther reachest of the universe. Now in order to get his shiny thing back, Moorhuhn has to try and win different races, or something. It’s not much of a plot, but at least it gives some attempt to the motivation behind why a crazy chicken would join a kart racing circuit.

Unlike other kart racing games, in the main game mode you can only play as Moorhuhn. You start with a basic kart and only through winning racing and earning credits can you upgrade the kart. It’s an interesting concept that doesn’t really pan out all that well since you unlock the new parts and enough credits to buy them at the same time so while it gives the illusion the kart per your own personal preferences, when in reality no matter how many times you play the game you’ll probably end up upgrading the kart the same way every time due to the nature of how the upgrades are unlocked. Since you are restricted to the same kart throughout the Story mode there’s not the same feeling of variety that you get from other kart racers. You play with the same character and the same kart throughout this mode, and while you can make changes to the way the kart looks having a wider variety of karts to use might have helped the game feel more fresh.

In the free race mode, you can choose between the five unlocked characters (with one character to be unlocked through the other mode of the game) who all have varying attributes when it comes to speed, how much damage they can take, and so on. That’s all of the modes, no multiplayer to speak of. Multiplayer is the backbone of all kart racing games so I can’t even begin to understand how this wasn’t an option, whether it was single cart or multi-cart, there is no excuse as to why there isn’t a multiplayer mode to this game.

Graphically the game is decent looking. While the characters and tracks have a respectable amount of detail the game suffers from looking pixelated and blocky. There are no smooth corners to be found in the game at all, it’s all jagged edges. I know it’s a budget game, but at $20 it isn’t much less than most full priced DS games, so it shouldn’t be too much to expect a little more polish that this.

The audio is acceptable at best, but none of the sound effects are particularly annoying or well done. It’s the definition of mediocre.

The best part of the game is the gameplay. While it isn’t amazing, it can be surprisingly fun to play. The controls are basic, A to accelerate, B to brake, D-Pad controls steering, shoulder buttons for activating weapons and X to activate the defensive power ups. While racing, a meter will build up at the bottom of the screen. Once it is filled, you can press up on the D-Pad for a boost of speed. There are four other racers at one time on the track during a race and weapon/defensive power ups on the track to collect.

There are some large differences between this game and other kart racers. Namely for a family style game the weapon power ups are surprising. There are only a few kinds, a shotgun, a rocket launcher and a mine. Running over one of these icons will grant you that weapon, and from there if you run into a red orb it will give you a random offensive power up, one type will allow you to lock onto the other racers, another will let you use multiple shots which are different for each weapon. With that power up the shotgun will let you shoot everyone in your field of vision, the missile launcher will shoot multiple missiles at one enemy and the mine will launch multiple mines in a formation. One the defensive side of things you will have to run over the blue power ups and press X to activate them. They have a couple of different varieties as well, such as a shield.

Shotguns and rocket launchers in a kids racing game? That’s….different at least.


Every racer has a health bar that is important to pay attention to. It only takes a couple of hits to wipe out, and if the health bar gets wiped out a few times then the kart is completely trashed and it’s game over. On the positive side, you can also do this to the other racers so it is possible to just literally destroy the competition. This adds a small bit of strategy to what would just be another generic kart racer. Depending on what place your racer is at you will want to go for defensive or offensive orbs. If you are in first place, there is no sense collecting offensive orbs since you will not be able to shoot anyone. It then becomes more about defending your position and kart health than trying to eliminate the other racers, whereas when you are in last place it’s all about collecting red orbs and weapons to try to clear the field of everyone else.

All of this makes the races interesting and fun for awhile, but the game is plagued with other problems aside from the ones mentioned earlier. There are only two modes, no multiplayer and only five different tracks. As you progress through the career mode there are alternate versions of these tracks that unlock that have more obstacles and the AI becomes more aggressive throughout the career but at no time does the AI ever become too difficult to handle.

You know how I mentioned earlier that there is a refillable bar that once full can be activated for a speed boost? Well the AI never seems to use it so at least the first round of races are a breeze. Once they start adding more obstacles on the tracks it starts becoming more of a challenge to boost through them.

Overall at $20 it’s a kart game with five tracks, two modes, no multiplayer, and only six different characters to play as. While the racing is sort of fun, it’s too limited for the price point. $20 isn’t that much different than the regular price for a DS game (with exception to anything Square-Enix releases), so it’s not even much of a budget priced game. What fun there is to be had from the game can be had and over in just a few minutes.

The Scores
Modes: Bad
Graphics: Decent
Audio: Below Average
Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Poor
Balance: Poor
Originality: Awful
Addictiveness: Bad
Appeal Factor: Below Average
Miscellaneous: Awful
Final Score: Poor Game

Short Attention Span Summary:
Crazy Chicken Star Kart is a game that isn’t worth your time, even though it does have a kart racing system that is fun for about thirty minutes. It may be a budget title, but when this game is only fun for half an hour and costs 20 bucks while Mario Kart is fun for months at $30. Which one is the better value?

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