If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nintendo should be tickled red by Konami’s new racing game, Krazy Kart Racers. Even though Mario Kart has fundamentally remained the same game for over 17 years, its brand of chaotic and unpredictable racing remains hugely popular. Does Krazy Kart Racers have what it takes to unseat Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D for kart racing supremacy?
Structurally speaking, Krazy Kart Racers completely adheres to the sub-genre’s standard fundamentals. The game’s roster of selectable characters is a collection of Konami icons like Frogger and Goemon among others. All of them have different strengths and weaknesses that cater to agile, bullish, or balanced playing styles.
The game’s 16 tracks are split into four circuits, and unlocking new tracks and characters depends on securing a Top 3 circuit finish. Weapons and speed boost pickups are sprinkled throughout courses. As an interesting wrinkle to the usual formula, weapons are in red boxes while speed boosts are in blue boxes. Do you go for the rocket weapon or opt for a speed boost to get beyond the chaotic fray? We’re fans of this distinction as it opens up room for some split-second decision making.
Who was that masked man?
The sensation of driving your kart is enjoyable. Using the default control scheme, acceleration is handled by the game (though there’s an onscreen button to brake) and rotating your iPhone controls your kart’s steering. Triggering pickups are responsive through an onscreen button, and you’ll be screwing with your opponents with ease. Like most kart racers we’ve played, the A.I. tends to pick on you more than the other racers, so you can expect competitive races no matter how perfectly you’re navigating a track.
Presentation-wise, Krazy Kart Racers fluctuates from average to outstanding. The courses are distinct in both aesthetics and layout. You’ll see everything from ice and lava environments to space and haunted landscapes. Everything is completely 3D, but it doesn’t come without some sacrifice.
Even on an iPhone 3GS, we found some performance chugs that crept into gameplay. Some courses have noticeable pop-in that inelegantly renders in the environment during your races. We also noticed weird collision detection issues. There were several instances where we’d successfully navigate around obstacles, and oddly, our characters would spin out like they hit an obstacle.
In addition, the game’s music is flat-out bad. The theme song is excruciatingly annoying, and some character and environmental sound effects aren’t always in sync with the live gameplay.
So smooth, it feels like driving on a cushion of air.
Krazy Kart Racers is packed full of modes and extras. Krazy GP mode is the main course when it comes to single player, and it’s all about grinding through the circuits. Other complementary modes include challenge trials, free runs, time attack and a couple of battle modes.
More importantly, full-on multiplayer is included as well. That’s right, you can race up to 5 other people in local or internet wi-fi. We’re thrilled to share that performance is great on local multiplayer. We didn’t experience any chugs or connection hiccups at all. Over Internet wi-fi, it was a bit spotty. Connecting to the servers required several attempts, and there weren’t many people playing online when we tried. It’s great fun when it works, but good luck getting a full six-player race going.
It’s not uniformly perfect, but there’s much more to this game than Crash’s kart racer. It has more characters, tracks, modes, and multiplayer considerations, which are all very impressive. When you add it all up, Krazy Kart Racers is the iPhone’s best kart racing game.