Kart Racer

Kart Racer is a pretty self explanatory name. You race karts. This game attempts to bring to life the simulation aspect of kart racing on Wii – there are no banana peels or explosions here, just braking points and racing lines. It has good intentions, but the execution gets a bit messy.

You’ve got the option of using motion-controlled steering with the Wii Wheel, or using the nunchuck analog stick to steer. Regardless of which one you choose, the controls are stiff and fighting them is where half the challenge of the game comes from. It’s hard to get a good feel for the karts, they feel more like they are hovering above the ground. There’s no connection to the road when exiting corners, and when you “lose it” the game has a pretty canned response to just throw your kart left and right a bit while you wait a few seconds for it to stop tarding out, leaving you without much control and no chance to immediately adjust.

Kart Racer basically has its own set of half broken physics to adjust to. If you have the patience for that, the next challenge is racing the other karts. There’s an impressive 16 vehicles on track at once, which is something even the shiniest sim racers can’t accomplish these days. There’s also damage. When you hit something your kart will show cosmetic damage. The handling isn’t affected, but bits will fly off and dents will be made, which is still more than can be said for certain other driving sims.

Racing the other karts can be very fun or very frustrating. You start every race from last, and even if you manage to nail all your braking points and racing lines, the slightest clip of an opponent will often send you to the back of the field in a series of spins or glitchy flips. To make up for this, the game gives you a ridiculous boost button that the other karts somehow don’t have access to (you can hear their boost sounds but they dont go faster). It almost doubles your speed and recharges almost immediately, so you’ll feel like a shark darting through opponents sometimes, and it makes it very easy to drive away from the field once you’re in clear air in first place.

As far as options goes the game delivers what you’d expect: a decent amount of tracks (15), and three categories of karts of different horsepower give you enough to play around with the main game. After that, there’s an unlockable offroad kart to play with in a stunt/jump mode, which is nice, but still falls into the same traps the main game does. There’s also a big room full of trophies you can admire and a list of achievements to accomplish.

If  you look really hard, you can find a decently entertaining game in Kart Racer. I appreciate the effort Nordic Games has gone to bring a game like this on Wii, but overall the experience just isn’t worth the investment.

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