What could be better than taking the classic kart racing formula pioneered by Mario Kart, then adding the various stars of Disney XD’s biggest cartoons? Well, Mario Kart, for one, or Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Or just watching the cartoons on Disney XD. While not a bad game, Disney Super Speedway just does not equal the sum of its parts.
In addition to being part of a popular genre, Disney Super Speedway’s main attraction is that it draws from six Disney cartoons for its characters and setpieces: Phineas and Ferb, Kick Buttowski, Fish Hooks, Motor City, Gravity Falls, and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja.
Unfortunately, for all these shows, there are only nine tracks (three to start, with three more available as you unlock the two subsequent cups), and related show-based tracks seem to all use the same theme. As much as we love Bowling for Soup’s ‘Today is Gonna Be a Great Day’ (and sing it when no one else is around), we can only take so much of the instrumental background version on a loop before it begins to lose its charm. This is even more shameful when you consider that the show tends to introduce a new song with every episode. (And don’t even get us started on the Fish Hooks theme…)
“Ferb! I know how we’re gonna die today!”
The roster of 13 characters is a bit better, though fans of certain shows are probably going to feel that some of their favorites are missing– you won’t see Candace busting her brothers here, nor Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz on the receiving end of a missile from Perry the Platypus, aka Agent P. Numbing the excitement somewhat is that only three of the characters are available from the outset: Phineas, Kick, and Milo– even Agent P, whose visage is used for the game’s icon, is only playable after you purchase him with in-game currency.
The gameplay itself isn’t bad, if a bit dry. Acceleration happens automatically, and you steer by tilting your iDevice and drift by touching an on-screen icon. Another icon allows you to use items you pick up along the track, or you can wait and get two items which can be used in tandem for better results. The controls work well enough, though they don’t seem to handle more precise movements quite as well, such as when you’re trying to pick up items on the track.
The game gets off to a bit of a rough start, as the first selectable course is actually a bit more difficult than the two subsequent choices. On top of that, the enemies seem to have a thing for blasting you with items– there aren’t any Blue Shells here, but when you drop from first or second to last place with a regular item (and still somehow manage to get blasted after), such weapons of destruction are clearly not needed. On the plus side, however, the AI does not seem to rubber-band, so if you can pull off a good lead and not make any mistakes, you can be good for the rest of the race.
Aren’t you a little young to be driving a go-kart through the city streets?
As you race, though, you’re given the opportunity to collect coins by ranking high, performing certain tasks outlined before each race, and even just collecting them off the track. In the garage, you can purchase, mix, and match wheels, frames, spoilers, boosters, and scoops to increase your edge. The margins they give you may not look like much, but they make a big difference.
The biggest downside to Disney Super Speedway is how dry it feels. You have all these characters and set pieces from some great shows, but none of the character or humor really seems to come through at all. No one-liners (though you’ll get a ‘woo-hoo’ on a jump), no fanservice beyond what you see on the surface– it feels like the developers took a kart-by-numbers template and plugged Disney characters into it before calling it a day. Even the items feel generic, which wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t lacking in personality elsewhere.
Overall, Disney Super Speedway isn’t a bad game, but just feels underwhelming compared to what it could be, especially next to the other great games Disney has published. Once the novelty of racing with Phineas or Kick wears off, you’re left with a decent racer, but there are plenty of those out there, and that’s probably not the only thing fans of these shows are going to be looking for when they click on the App’s icon on iTunes.