When it rains, it pours. It took a while for kart racers to speed onto the iPhone, but now that they’re here, they’re coming in droves. And what would Gameloft be if it did not capitalize on this and further secure their rising dominance of the platform? Like every other game from the publisher, this one sparkles and shines with lots of visual finesse (minus a few frame rate speed bumps), but the kart racing formula has not evolved much in the 17 years since the debut of the original Mario Kart. Shrek Kart does little to further that evolution, and your affection for (or tolerance of) the game may depend on your love of the Shrek franchise.
Whereas your racing sims such as Forza and Gran Turismo are all about the cars, kart racers are all about the tracks. Sure, the karts (and their drivers) have a few handling differences, but nothing that is going to severely overpower the rubber band AI so typical of these games. No matter how well you do, expect a few opponents to miraculously ride your tail the whole time.
There are 10 racers in all, all notable characters from the movies, and as expected, you’ll have to unlock the bulk of them by playing through the game’s various modes (four in all, including Tournament and Arena) and winning challenges. 11 power-ups litter the courses, ranging from turning your opponent into a pumpkin or shielding yourself with, you guessed it, shields; most of these are just rebranded weapons or defenses we’ve seen before.
Cat in a hot lava cave.
The tracks are the game’s biggest draw. Those familiar with the films will easily recognize Shrek’s swamp and the castle and village of Far, Far Away. Others in the lineup of 15 tracks are less noteworthy from a nostalgia standpoint but are nicely themed, nonetheless. The tracks are not completely flat, and there are enough ramps and hairpin turns to keep the driving interesting. Still, none of them are quite on par with some of, say, Mario Kart’s best tracks. Considering that we’ll never see that gem ported to the iPhone, we’ll take what we can get.
As previously mentioned, your ultimate take on the game will depend on how you feel about the movies (we personally stopped caring after the second film). Shrek Kart offers a lot to do for those who are somewhat invested in the characters and locales, but if that isn’t the case for you, expect to get bored with retreading old ground again and again to earn better lap records. Local wifi play with up to six others is an appreciated addition, and it works well enough to be worth your time. Playing against others is always more fun than against shoddy AI.
Shrek Kart is not perfect, and there are some viable contenders out there for the kart-racing crown, even if this game in particular stands out visually among the crowd. Visual polish can only get you so far, though, and we would have liked to have seen more upgrades to the formula rather than just a new coat of paint. Even if its a bit derivative, Shrek Kart doesn’t do a whole lot wrong, and kart racing done right is fun even if it is a bit unoriginal.