Wacky Karts is a clone of Mario Kart for the SNES. For those unfamiliar with the Mario Kart series, it is a Go Kart racing game which was more about the fun than serious racing and featured power ups which included turbo boosts and red shells which crashed opponents. The game series are a classic and in my opinion the SNES version is still the best Make no bones about it, in Wacky Karts the Mode 7 style graphics, the Karts, track locations and power ups are all copied from the Nintendo classic. So how does Wacky Karts fare against Mario Kart?
The graphics are very much similar to the cartoon style of Mario Kart SNES. They are well drawn and look fairly faithful, the tracks have the familiar themes of the Mario universe including forests, deserts, volcanoes and the rainbow world. Each themed location has its own music track which sound pretty good overall. Sound effects are underused and are non existent such as when using a power up for example.
The Grand Prix is the main event in the game, you compete against seven other CPU controlled drivers in four race cups, bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Each cup has four races which over the course of the game increase in technicality from simple speed style tracks to tracks featuring 90+ degree turns and jumps which require good skill to overcome. Track designs are overall done well but the power ups seem to mostly give you a turbo boost despite there being six different types of power ups ranging from springs for a jumping ability and mines.
Versus Mode allows up to 4 local players to compete against each other on split screen and race on any of the 16 available tracks. The Time Trial mode is single player and allows you to set your best times for each track, these are saved to the local leaderboard and if you do well enough the Xbox Live leaderboard which is good to see being used.
Battle Mode allows up to four players on split screen and features four tracks to do battle on. Games are always fun with real people rather than CPU AI, but in Wacky Karts it just does not have the fun factor found in Mario Kart. The map designs are a bit bland and the power ups do not work well as they are usually Pucks which bounce off walls. I was hoping for a lot on the Battle Mode as I spent many hours playing this on Mario Kart, so unfortunately this was a disappointment.
What lets this game down is the game mechanics. If you should have a poor start or start the race in last place it can be near impossible to catch up to the rest of the pack which drive in a mostly perfect formation around each lap. You can go full speed around a track and you will have difficulty to catch them up, even with the fastest speed kart! Turbo boosts are provided in the form of power ups and boost pads on the floor but they provide little help when the opposition are also using them.
To add to the issues, the off road sections are unforgiving and will grind your kart to an halt almost instantly if you stray within a reasonable distance. Combining this with the issue of slightly clipping a wall will get you stuck instead of bouncing you off, you will drop from 1st to 8th place usually in one mistake.
These problems turn what could have been a fun game into a constant chore worrying that you are going a little too fast and you might clip a wall or stray off track when turning a corner for example. Over time you will learn the layout of tracks and avoid most mistakes but even the smallest mistake will likely result in a loss of position which can be hard to regain.
If the developers continued working on the game by tweaking the AI and make some general improvements this would be a good fun game. Please developers, fix these issues and I would be very happy to recommend it, but as it stands at the moment there are too many issues preventing it.
You can download the trial of Wacky Karts here, the full game costs 400 .