Mario Kart has always dominated the kart racing scene and let’s not pretend that anything comes quite as close. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and its sequel are probably the only prime examples that I can give for a multi-platform release that manages to excite on a level anywhere near what Mario Kart has to offer. Though, with Team Sonic Racing on the horizon, everyone’s already gearing up for that classic white-knuckled genre. To fill the void until that game releases, there’s a brand new kart racer on the block; All-Star Fruit Racing.
Kart racing games are a tough nut to crack these days. There’s got to be a fine balance between excitement and energy, a line walked very finely by All-Star Fruit Racing’s aforementioned two peers. We’ve seen some hit and miss kart racers this gen but nothing ever really tends to stick (Beach Buggy Racing, I’m looking at you) around for too long. Does All-Star Fruit Racing have what it takes to stand the tests of time? Or is this just another filler title to simply pass the time until something better pops onto gaming storefronts?
All-Star Fruit Racing is an action-packed and colorful racing game that attempts to stand out firmly. While it does indeed stand out, it doesn’t actually stand tall. There’s no denying that All-Star Fruit Racing is possibly one of the most vibrant games this gen so far, with colors bouncing off one another at each and every turn. The game sees fruit-themed cars racing through fruit-themed tracks with a, you guessed it, fruit themed racer at the wheel. Due to it theme alone, there’s so much color splashing on the screen that it’s a treat to behold.
That’s not to say that the visuals are through the roof. Colorful they may be, but there’s still a slight lack of refinement across the board. Nevertheless, All-Star Fruit Racing ticks the boxes that it needed to when it comes to its presentation. The game offers up a total of twenty one tracks that are spread across varying and distinct locations. Though in all honesty, I cant quite say that I was blown away by the design choices here. Tracks tend to center around generic run-of-the-mill environments; pirates, dinosaurs and the likes.
No doubt this will be fun for younger audiences to soak up, but for me, I felt the game played it a little too safe for my liking. Right off the bat it’s hard not to appreciate how much content is stuffed in here. The game’s menu is packed with options to take to, with a short and informative tutorial present for those that have yet to enjoy games of this type. The tutorial can be skipped and played at a later time but it does help to feed you into the basics of play, so I fully recommend giving it a go if you don’t feel overly confident to start out.
All-Star Fruit Racing offers online and offline play, with the career mode found in the latter. The career mode is your typical affair; beat the game’s progressively difficult eleven cups to unlock new characters and so forth. Outside of the main event there’s the other modes to take to, such as custom race, fast championship, custom championship, training and time attack. Custom race allows you to setup any race on any track that you desire, with a neat star-chart to relay the difficulty tier of each track. By and large, it’s a single race offering.
Fast championship and custom championship presents a nice challenge and enables you to toy around with the modes on offer, with the latter granting you the ability to select your own string of events. Training mode on the other hand is much more self explanatory. Here you can take to the fields of play on any track and get some practice in, which is great for those that enjoy getting to know each track intimately well. Finally, there’s time attack, a mode that challenges you to beat the par-times on each track for gold, silver and bronze.
Throughout the game you’ll get to enjoy a selection of modes; juicy, random juicy, dragster, elimination and elimination mix. Some of these are fairly similar to one another but they do indeed bring enough diversity to the game to keep things fresh. If you’re looking for some customization, the garage is where you’ll want to head. In the garage you can customize your vehicles via a range of unique earned cosmetics. There’s nothing groundbreaking here but it does lend the game, and as a result, its players, some personality and added depth.
Moving to the online section of the game, players can either join a random match or create a lobby of their own choosing. Mercifully it’s actually pretty straightforward and easy to get to grips with. Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, how does the game handle? Well to be honest, All-Star Fruit Racing is a bit hit and miss in this regard. Racing is arcade-esque and the mechanics do just about enough to immediately engage, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least point out how repetitive the game becomes before too long at all.
Much like any game from its peers, drifting will reward you with a small boost to your speed. There’s some specific fruit themed pick-ups spread all over each track which will independently fill up four meters on the right side of the screen. Banana pick-ups will contribute to all of your meters at once, so it pays off to nab these when you see them. The kicker here is that players can either use each power-up as they fill, or allow several (or all) power-ups to fill and unleash a combined ability that can either make or break a race.
Each meter is tethered to the face buttons (A, X, Y, B) and you’re free to chain together specific meters to output a large number of varying mix-match abilities. It’s an interesting feature that takes a side-step from the traditional pick-up system found in other kart racers, that’s for sure. One of my biggest issues with the game is the loading screens. These can drag on for far too long and in some instances, will present a black screen that only a hard-reset can bypass. It’s not an ideal barrier to contend with, especially for a game like this.
Another issue rests with the soundtrack. It’s just not upbeat or fast enough and almost completely lacks personality. Don’t get me wrong, All-Star Fruit Racing is a fun game and it does bring some interesting concepts to the kart-racing table, but it doesn’t build on its ideas enough to justify repeated play. Once again, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the younger gamer is the target audience here, but for those, like me, that enjoy more of a rounded package in their kart racing games, don’t expect to have your socks blown off.
All-Star Fruit Racing is a decently structured kart racing game that offers up quite a chunk of content in return for its fairly generous asking price. The main issue here is that despite being fun, much of the content lacks originality, refinement and depth. All-Star Fruit Racing may stand out, but it doesn’t quite manage to stand tall. Those that seek simplicity may enjoy this, but for those seeking more, hold out for Team Sonic Racing.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.