There are a ton of Mario Kart clones on the Nintendo Switch, from Team Sonic Racing to Just Die Already – but almost all of them take inspiration from the 3D entries in the series. That’s why it was so refreshing to see one appear on the e-shop that instead opted for more of a SNES-like appearance. Sure, those games are hard to play now – but surely a modern game would be able to resolve such issues?
Many thanks to the TuanisApps for the review code
READY YOUR ENGINES
The core gameplay of Retro Kart Rush is very much as you’d expect, with you racing against a group of AI opponents across various themed tracks. There are eight cups in total, with six containing three unique tracks each plus one random cup and another with every available track. What’s impressive about the 18 available courses is the wide variety of designs, from the typical lava and snow tracks to more unusual themes such as a sandy beach with overlooking pirate ships or a Japanese garden complete with fallen cherry blossom.
They’re generally quite pleasing for the most part, even if the art style is a mixed bag. The colourful nature of the level, as well as the interesting track layout are all great, but certain things can be simplistic to a fault – with some things looking like they were knocked together in MS Paint.
Thankfully such issues are balanced out by a generally good control system. With an assortment of characters across three weight classes, each have varying acceleration, speed, and handling but all control rather well. Whilst I generally opted for the lighter or medium weight classes, I found that they turned super sharply and never really had any issues staying on the track like I did with Super Mario Kart. Drifting also exists and grants you a speed boost, which can be useful to give you a little bit of an edge – especially as the game does contain a bit of extreme rubber-banding at times that can cost you first position even on the easiest difficulty setting.
Over the course of the three tracks, you’ll be given points based on your final position with your goal being to get the highest total at the end of the cup. Getting to first on the easier difficulty setting is usually quite easy, but the higher settings do help add a further challenge. In order to help you get to the top, it’s best to utilise the item boxes scattered around to your advantage – most of which are themed after Mario Kart favourites. There’s replacements for the coloured shells and bananas that all work in a very similar way, but then there are some other items that I never really figured out what the purpose was. It’s a shame that there’s no real exciting twists on the formula, but they’re at least functional – if a tad underwhelming.
Of course with such a low price tag, you’d be wondering what problems lie with the title – and unfortunately there are a few. In addition to the occasional poor visual element, the game also has a choppy framerate at times. It’s rather sad to see as it is quite noticeable at times, especially as a game like this should have no problems on the system.
There’s also a rather unfortunate lack of any real multiplayer in the game, with only the option to include a second local player to play with you in the Grand Prix mode. Whilst it is better than nothing, these games thrive on head to head competition and I thin not including at least a local VS mode for up to four players is a real missed opportunity. Hopefully this is something that the developers can rectify in a future content update, but it’s something that will no doubt be off-putting to many genre enthusiasts.
For €4, Retro Kart Rush offers a fun little karting experience that brings back memories of the older Mario Kart titles. The mixed visuals and the unfortunate occasional slowdown does take away from the experience slightly, but there’s still a lot here for such a budget price.