Review – All-Star Fruit Racing
If you don’t own a Nintendo console, you’re pretty unlucky when it comes to having access to a decent assortment of well-polished kart racers. If you have a PS4, that’s even worse, given how the lack of PS3 backwards compatibility doesn’t even let you experience games like LittleBigPlanet Karting or any of Sega’s outings. The only passable title available for you is Beach Buggy Racing, which is a decent game in its own right, but it’s still a port of a mobile title. If you’re desperate for a new kart game before the eventual release of yet another Sonic racer, you now have the choice to play All-Star Fruit Racing.
All-Star Fruit Racing is pretty much what it sounds like. This a racing game all about fruit: the tracks are all themed around fruit, the powerups are based around fruit and juices, the characters are named after berries, and so on. Think of it as if someone has decided to make an entire game of Mario Kart based on that one food kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey without Mario or any other famous character. Yep, it’s not exactly exciting, but it could have been worse.
The game isn’t exactly a looker due to its inconsistent framerate, but it’s not terrible either. The course design is colorful and charming, even though it gets repetitive pretty quickly due to the fact that, well, everything is fruit-themed in this game. While the graphics aren’t bad (or excellent for that matter), the sound design is disappointing to say the least.
The game’s soundtrack acts more like an eclectic person’s Spotify library on shuffle than a well-put collection of tunes for a video game. The main menu music is your typical generic electronic song. Other tunes range from basic tribal sounds to a song that’s one or two notes away from being considered a plagiarized version of the Jurassic Park theme song. It feels completely out of place, especially since there’s no overall tone share among the tunes. Mario Kart has both upbeat, calm and scary tunes, but they all share a common tone, for instance.
Thankfully, playing the game is a lot better than looking at it. All-Star Fruit Racing employs some neat features to differ itself from the rest of its peers. Besides the actual good controls and decent drifting system, the game features a smart way of handing out items. There are four types of “juice” that you can collect and four juice tanks in your car. Whenever you fill a tank up, you can use a different item. If you fill in more than one tank, you can combine those juices to create a different, more powerful item. You can press the four main face buttons to detach the tanks from your engine in order to create specific items that can suit you better, depending on your position. If all four tanks are full, you can unleash a character-specific special attack. Without a doubt, that’s the best thing about All-Star Fruit Racing: you’re not bound to a random generator and you’re allowed to properly plan your item strategy during racers, adding an extra bit of skill to the competition.
My main gripe with All-Star Fruit Racing isn’t related to any technical issues or its lackluster sound department. The main issue with the game is that it just lacks charisma. Other games like Mario Kart have the advantage of being populated by Nintendo’s most adored mascots. Sonic‘s kart games are filled to the brim with Sega characters. All-Star Fruit Racing has… fruit. You race in lots of fruit-themed levels with a bunch of generic racers with music that doesn’t match the game’s mood. Charisma is half of the reason someone plays a kart racer and when a game lacks this “oomph” factor, it just makes things uninteresting and it makes you lose motivation.
All-Star Fruit Racing is alright at best. In a console that suffers from a severe shortage of kart racers, this isn’t exactly the worst choice you could have, but it’s far from being in the same level as the most famous games in the genre. At the very least, you can learn some fun facts about fruits and nutrition while the game loads. Who said video games can’t teach you new things?
Framerate issues and a lack of overall speed hinder what’s actually a cute and colorful game.
Despite the wonky physics, the game features decent controls and a somewhat neat and inventive item system.
Between the tunes that feel completely detached from one another and the bad sound effects, this is one game you’ll prefer to play on mute.
Fun Factor: 5.5
There is a sizeable amount of content and a few neat gameplay ideas, but All-Star Fruit Racing lacks charisma, and that’s crucial in a kart racer.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Reviewed on PS4.
All-Star Fruit Racing is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch.
A copy of All-Star Fruit Racing was provided by the publisher.