With the godfather of the sub-genre still going strong year on year, many have come close to any kind of success compared to Mario Kart. The likes of Crash Team Racing and Diddy Kong Racing fared well, showing that efforts that didn’t involve the little italian plumber directly could enjoy some form of success. With the transition over to mobile platform there have been a plethora of further karting escapades. The likes of Angry Birds Go amongst others have been introduced to compete or at least stand alongside console karting entries, so does Garfield Kart 3DS have what it takes to take pole position? Or is it just going to give our lovable lasagne-chowing feline another reason to hate mondays?
Sadly, the problems are there from the get-go. Starting up the game takes you to a rather unwieldy title screen. Coupled with particularly poor graphics it doesn’t give the best first impressions. You are given a choice of Single Race, Grand Prix and Time Trial, with a familiar set of difficulty levels from 50cc, 100cc and 150cc usually found in other karting outings. There are 4 cups to compete in, in which the appropriately named Lasagne Cup is already there for you to begin with.
Before you head onto the track, you have a set of familiar characters to choose from along with a Kart of your choice. Adding perks such as boosts, a hat and a spoiler will determine the overall effects of your speed and handling. Be sure to collect coins in-game to upgrade your gear or by simply winning races. With the choice of Garfield himself or his hapless owner Jon its time to head out and see how it fares amongst the rest of the competition.
It doesn’t take long to see that Garfield Kart doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The bottom screen of your 3DS displays the track and the whereabouts of the other racers. The courses are set in pretty generic locations; Deserts, cities and typical picturesque locations. But the scenery isn’t particularly complimented by the graphical performance, which doesn’t quite represent the animation found in any cartoon adaptation, whether that is intentional or not no one knows, but it may have benefited from doing so.
The resemblance in gameplay to likes of Mario Kart are instantly obvious. A lot of familiar aspects are there, particularly the weapons system and powersliding to gain boosts (which often pays off with over-simplistic corners) will help you get to grips with the game quickly if you are familiar with the genre. Boost yourself using Garfield’s favourite Hot Lasagne, or throw an apple pie to halt a rival racer, and even use the Cuzzzhion to put your rivals to sleep temporarily. There are also tilt controls available if they’re your preferred method of navigation. Although familiar gameplay mechanics are there, it feels like some have been included for the sake of the game being anything like the classic Nintendo series. Powersliding round corners to gain a boost is pretty redundant, since the previously mentioned simple corners are easily traversed even at 150cc.
And none of this is helped by poor AI. Although it is not the only racing game to be guilty of going from one extreme to the other in terms of who you face in single player, its annoying going from being miles in front or finding yourself unable to catch the opponent in front no matter how many boosts you have or how many corners you are able to master. This is not an unfamiliar trait however, which even features in bigger console racers yet it is still an unwelcome feature. To top it all off, there is no online multiplayer available. If there was one feature that would have made Garfield Kart re-playable it would have been this, as a lynchpin of pretty much all racing titles on the market.
Keeping in mind that this is aimed at a younger audience, Garfield Kart is an easy to pick up game that kids will enjoy. But the port from mobile to 3DS has proven to be a disappointing endeavour, with shoddy touchscreen controls, limited gameplay and bland visuals. Thankfully there are better options on the market, or pick this up for your mobile device for a better handling experience at a lower price.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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