Review – Touring Karts

Lately, it seems that there has been a mad rush to claim second place in the kart racing gaming circuit. We’ve seen Crash and Sonic trying to claim the throne situated right next to Mario’s. If just one thing can be said about Ivanovich Games’ entry, it is that they are trying to cast as wide a net as possible as quickly as possible. Previously available on PC, Touring Karts is now available on PSVR and is soon coming to Nintendo Switch and other mobile platforms.

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Kids, don’t drink and drive.

Being made available on so many platforms, it is impressive that Ivanovich Games took their time to build Touring Karts to take advantage of each one of those platforms’ strengths. There is a VR Arcade Edition, VR Edition, Non-VR Edition and soon, the Mobile Edition. Even after choosing its VR mode, I was further impressed by the number of ways I could play it. I could make use of my Dual Shock 4 with or without motion controls, my Moves, one DS4 and one Move, or a steerting wheel. Hell, they even took the time to add support for the PlayStation 3D Rudder.

Conceptually, Touring Karts looks exactly like you would expect: A very light-hearted, cartoony, kid-appealing kart racer. It isn’t trying to merge any generational gap between parents and children. It isn’t trying to reinvent the kart wheel, it is simply trying to bring it to VR. If you are aware of Mario Kart, then you have the basic idea of how Touring Karts will both look and play.

Not owning a wheel or a 3D Rudder, I was only really able to test drive my DS4 and Move controllers. The DS4 performs the way you expect them to. There is very little learning curve and everything will come smoothly enough. Playing with motion controls on, shockingly, gave me a bit more control of how and when I performed an action. Using the Move controllers can be a bit tougher to pick up. You will use one hand to steer and the other to grab items from the air and to use them. It feels great using power-ups in this way and after a couple of laps, it does feel the more natural way to play. If flat screen (non-VR) is your thing, then DS4’s motion controls and Move capabilities seem to be removed, as they should.

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You can play the game without a VR set, but it’s not as enjoyable.

Content is a big deal with any type of kart racer and Touring Karts doesn’t shy away from this. There are roughly 30 cars and more than 20 tracks to choose from, so there is more than enough content to keep you racing without any worries. Completing objectives and tracks will randomly unlock more cars and tracks, as well as additional accessories and upgrades for your vehicle.

Thankfully, Ivanovich Games doesn’t force you to play their single player mode just so you can be competitive against your friends. Like all kart racers, we want to jump on and face off against other players as soon as possible. Playing Quick Race mode allows you all the cars and tracks so you can hit the ground running. Up to eight players can face off against each other in online multiplayer mayhem, and that’s where Touring Karts shines the brightest, especially considering how Mario Kart 8 is still far from being a reliable game when playing online to this day.

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Tell me another racing game that has a chicken as a weapon.

Another thing you come to expect in a kart racer is the power-ups. Touring Karts not only allows you to grab a single power-up, but to hold on to it and to combine it with a second power-up. This was a lot of fun to experiment with, even moreso when using my Move controller. However, my big issue was that, more than a couple times, after using a power-up, I didn’t see the results of my attack. If it was a hammer, then I could see the car I smashed. But most times I used a long-range power-up, I wouldn’t know if it was successful or not.

Visually, Touring Karts isn’t pushing any boundaries. This is probably due to the developers reaching for so many different platforms, from powerful PCs to underpowered phones, but it just can’t hold a candle to what we expect from a top tier kart racer. It may be unfair to compare it to something as graphically polished as Mario Kart, but that was their original goal, so the comparison needs to be there. Thankfully, the performance is solid, and the game itself is far from ugly. It is what Race With Ryan should have looked like.

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The cutest Lotus you’ll ever see.

Mario Kart is still safe and has nothing to worry about losing its throne, but unless you are willing to invest in a racing rig, Touring Karts does an excellent job of bringing an arcade kart racer into your home. The attention they paid to making sure it is accessible across a wide range of platforms is impressive. With that being said, it is meant to be played, and deserves to be played, in VR.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Not striking but definitely capable. It does look a bit dated even when compared to kart racers from the last generation, however.

Gameplay: 8.5

Besides some floaty and physics-type blips, performance and framerate are tight and precise. Accessible no matter what type of control you choose.

Sound: 7.0

The cute soundtrack fits perfectly with Touring Karts‘ gameplay and style, but it doesn’t exactly stand out.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Playing in VR against friends is a very fun experience. Touring Karts is also very easy to jump into thanks to its Quick Race mode.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Touring Karts is available now on PC and PS4.

Reviewed on PSVR.

A copy of Touring Karts was provided by the publisher.