There’s no explanation as to why characters from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and Monsters vs Aliens have been brought together for a spot of kart racing. We all know the real reason though – to make Activision money.
It’s painfully clear that this is a budget effort. Menus are bland, speech samples have been provided by soundalikes and during one of the Madagascar tracks an ‘el cheapo’ version of Reel 2 Reel’s ‘I Like To Move It’ plays in the background. How much would it have cost to license the real deal? Not much, we’d wager. Visually it’s adequate enough. Reflective pools of water on Shrek’s swamp track are as pretty as it gets. We’re not quite sure why a swamp has clear water, but there you go.
Although there are shortcuts, success doesn’t depend on knowing the tracks well or even on using weapons wisely but rather boosting at every given opportunity. There’s quite a few ways to get a temporary burst of speed. You can get into opponent’s slipstream, power side around corners or perform stunts when going over a ramp. The weapons meanwhile are the typical assortment of homing missiles (frogs), unguided missiles (pumpkins), shields (potions) and banana skins (banana peels). Like a certain other karting game two weapons can be carried at once.
Track design, again, is adequate. There aren’t enough tracks to keep interest levels up for long, however. Far Far Away has some large open roads; the Madagascar track has a large spiral staircase which you can power side the whole way up. One of the medieval tracks has a floor which gives away, leaving only a narrow path for the final lap. No track stands out as clear favourite, but there’s none we really detested either.
Super Star Kartz’s biggest crime is that it feels entirely soulless. The Mario Kart games are always clear labours of love but this feels like it simply exists because somebody at Activision thought it would sell well.
Will it keep the kids amused? Yes, for a couple of days at least. But a copy of Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, which is immeasurably more pleasurable, would be a much wiser purchase.