Kart Krashers (Nintendo 3DS)
Publisher: Big John Games
Developer: Big John Games
Release Date: 09/27/2012
Cross Ranson is a stunt driver with a curse: he can’t leave his kart without fear of death. Every man in his family was a stunt kart racer who died in a really bizarre way outside of their kart. Emily Prix is a talented young mechanic who needs the Kart Krashers competition’s prize money to help her struggling family. Joe Bob Johnson is ranch-owning driver who uses his kart to do chores on his ranch, but needs the prize money or else he’ll lose his farm. Marlon Grimford’s business, Grimford Industries, is on the brink of bankruptcy because of the shameless tactics of Big Gears, the company hosting the Kart Krashers competition. Sabrina Svelte is attempting to clear the name of Julian Sunflower, aka the Marvel, who used to be one of the greatest drivers in the country before falling from grace due to his conspiracy theories. Together, the five drivers attempt to expose Big Gears, as they realize something fishy is definitely going on, especially once robots and aliens are added to the picture.
Kart Krashers is a single player game where the goal is to collect stars, drive through rings, and smash into objects to achieve the highest event score possible. There are power-ups to help you with this task: rockets to temporarily help you go faster, shields to protect you from damage, hourglasses to give you more time, and brooms to make gathering stars and items easier. Depending on your score, you will get zero to three Golden Wheels per event. There are three events per stage, and ten stages, and the only way to advance to the next stage is to get four Golden Wheels across the three events in your current stage. In addition, there are achievement medals you can earn, if you’re into that sort of thing. When you start up the game, you create a profile (basically, just your name) and have the option to talk to Mister Big Welcome, who will give you a rundown of how the game is played. If you’d rather learn by doing, the option for that exists as well via the first stage. The menu also has a nifty feature that tells you where you’ve left off in the story: select “Story so far” and you can reread all the conversations that have happened. This is particularly useful for people who aren’t in the mood to read the story as it’s happening but might be curious as to what was said later, or those who haven’t played in a while. The story doesn’t affect gameplay, but it is a decent one; each racer has a reason to be there and there’s an explanation of each driver’s skills (e.g. speed, control, endurance, etc.). You can also select “Game Awards” to see the achievements you’ve earned; there are twenty point-related ones, twelve “x stars in x seconds”-related ones, and ten bonus max-related ones, for a total of forty-two medals available. In my first playthrough, I managed to earn twenty-one of those medals naturally, and I have to admit I am kind of looking forward to earning the rest of them.
For a game that’s roughly three hours long, the story and characters are fleshed out adequately. I was surprised there actually was a story, given that it’s just a racing game. (After all, Mario Kart and similar games don’t exactly have character development.) Some of the writing was a bit weak, and the dialogue forced, but overall, the game was laid out well for what it was. The same goes for the graphics and sound. For a game that costs five hundred points (about five dollars), the graphics aren’t bad. I was particularly impressed with the character design, and the level designs work well.
My main concern with the game was actually with the gameplay. In all honesty, it’s probably easiest just to stick with Cross because he has the most control out of any of the karts, and in the long run, that control is the most important part of the game. Speed is also important, but it won’t save you when you’re trying to pick up stars or power-ups. The difficulty of the events racks up as well, maybe a bit too quickly, but this doesn’t make the game impossible to play. I don’t normally like driving/racing games, but I liked the way this game is set up, with various stages for you to perform in and events with varying levels of difficulty. In general, it’s easiest to try to get Golden Wheels from the first and second events in each stage, though if you’re having difficulty, you might be able to get that last of four Golden Wheels from the last stage if you’re lucky.
Kart Krashers was a fun game to beat. I found myself playing for about a half hour at a time and wanted to pick it up when I wasn’t playing. It’s a nice twist on driving games and is executed in a fashion that makes it both enjoyable and memorable. I’d recommend this game to anyone looking for a nice twist on a concept that comes off as a bit dry at times.
Control and Gameplay: ABOVE AVERAGE
Balance: VERY GOOD
Appeal Factor: GREAT
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
Kart Krashers is a nice addition to the driving genre. It has a plot that doesn’t get in the way of the game, keeps things interesting, and explains the differences between stages, the characters, events, and stages are well designed, and the game does get more difficult as time goes on. There are a few issues with control/gameplay and, on occasion, balance, but for the most part Kart Krashers succeeds as an affordable title that will offer up a nice distraction from day-to-day activities and make you want more. Pick this game up, as it’s only five dollars, and it’ll give you at least three hours of playtime, especially if you’re someone who likes to earn achievements.