A debate still rages as to whether it’s justified to refer to every karting game as a ‘Mario Kart clone’, or whether the genre has grown out of the shadow of its forebearer. One thing is for certain however, there have been hundreds of games which have tried to steal the throne. Few have come even close. But as you’ll learn in this DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing review, some do provide worthwhile alternatives.
The game begins with a simple tutorial teaching you the basics of acceleration and handling, drift turns and the boost mechanic. So far, so similar to Mario Kart. And realistically, that’s what DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing wants to be. It’s familiar in the way that anyone who’s played the genre-defining series can jump in with little-to-no-fuss. This is not a game that’s designed to trick you in any way. It’s a game that’s designed to sell itself on two premises: it’s got DreamWorks characters, and it’s like Mario Kart.
If either or both of those things appeal to you, you’re onto a winner. The gameplay may be largely formulaic, but it works. The cup arrangements and four-player split-screen mean that DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing is the perfect family gaming afternoon. The cast of characters delivers some odd choices – and many of their voice actors only loosely resemble their big screen counterparts – but by-and-large you could do a lot worse.
The quantity of racers and tracks is welcoming, and the design of the latter is frequently challenging. Especially when playing on the harder difficulty settings, which will push you harder than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s 200cc. The backgrounds are very details, though the character models and their animation is only serviceable at best. Furthermore, the weapons seem to have very little impact in the player’s hands, but can hugely alter the outcome of a race when used against you.
One asset which is similar to that of Mario Kart which DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing improves upon is the vehicle customisation. In recent Mario Kart titles, you could build your vehicle from an assortment of chassis, wheel and glider options. However, you’re never explicitly told what difference each one makes. This leads to a significant amount of trial-and-error to learn the best combinations. Or of course, reading a guide for the best karts in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. With DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing however, you have four components from which to build your vehicle, and stat bars which denote how each will affect performance.
Though this DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing review has thus far concentrating on how similar the game is to Mario Kart, there are a few unique ideas it brings to the table. The game includes temporary shortcuts which can be opened by collecting items on-track, but will soon disappear behind you. There’s a challenge mode in which simply winning isn’t enough, and a wealth of unlockable content.
Despite it’s flaws, DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing presents a compelling alternative to Mario Kart. So much so, that the game could easily be considered one of the best Mario Kart clones of recent years. Naysayers will suggest you should stick with the king, or maybe Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed if you don’t have a Nintendo console. However, DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing has enough ideas of its own to present a fresh feeling, fun kart racer. And with the upcoming holiday season, what more could you ask for?