They say that it isn’t the driver but the car that wins motorsport races like Formula One. Indeed, watch any preamble to a race and you’ll hear a discussion on which motor has improved the most since the last meeting, not which driver is the best.
Kartmania 3D takes this relatively interesting topic of conversation and makes a racing game out of it - a racing game that doesn’t rely on the skill of the player, but on how much they’ve upgraded their engines.
Essentially, to adapt an over-worn joke from The Simpsons, ‘In Kartmania, the kart drives you’.World traveller
It’s starts off well. The 3D graphics are smooth and relatively quick, with some nice decorations off-track giving each of the three locations a healthy dose of character.
Be it curious giraffes peering over in the Serengeti levels to the crazy eye-tower thing in the Halloween-themed tracks, there’s always something to distract from the windy grey track in front of you.
Unfortunately, the number of unique decorations number in the single digits, meaning it’s fairly easy for one location’s six tracks to meld into one, windy mass.
Not helping is the lack of character from the track design itself. While there are sharp corners and gentle bends, there’s no difference in elevation, no cross-sections, and absolutely no reason to use the brakes for the entire game.M.O.T.
Your fellow competitors are agreeably aggressive, prone to darting into your kart on the start line and shoving you into a wall when overtaking.
This won’t happen that often, because there’s very rarely a time when your kart is the same speed as everyone else’s due to the over-importance of the kart upgrades.
Placing in the top three of the race earns you money (confusingly called ‘points’) to spend on your kart, with a new vehicle unlocking as the game progresses. If you come last you get nothing.
This really starts to bite during the final tournament, which is literally impossible to win unless you’ve saved all your cash and piled it into engine upgrades from the word go.Mid-season improvements
This lack of quality tracks and dogged reliance on upgrades to win races makes Kartmania 3D’s racing a chore, rather than an exciting test of skill.
It’s a shame, as the package around the racing is top quality. A global leaderboard, hot seat for up to four players, and Bluetooth multiplayer for two would have been the key ingredients for driving up the score of a good mobile racer to that of a great one.
However, all of these extra features don’t matter if the engine they’re riding in is only a middle-order finisher.