Friends don't let friends doodle drive. At least Doodle Kart has the sense to separate the two, its arcade racing having nothing substantially to do with the art of sketching.
It's only by virtue of its visual style - it looks as though it's been ripped from the ledgers of a high school geometry textbook - that it lays claim to the doodle brand.
Closer to Micro Machines than any customisable racer, Doodle Kart lacks the obvious features that come with its name. Still, for what it offers this is a decent, if not unassuming entry to the penny class racing league.Doodle me this, Batman
Yes, the art style does adopt the popular squiggly line and notepaper motif, but it's nothing more than a conscious effort to capitalise on the craze. There's no option to draw your own tracks or colour in a custom car: on the contrary, you're restricted to the 25 pre-rendered tracks and sole vehicle model.
The doodle style feels distinctly more like an excuse than a deliberate choice, though the same definitely can't be said of the absolutely superb soundtrack.
A collection of mariachi tunes get your hips, elbows and fingertips gyrating from the moment the menu loads until your car staggers across the finish line in last place, and it couldn't be better suited to the light-hearted gameplay if the miniature cars were racing around the brim of a sombrero.Colour inside the lines
Of course, you're not in it to dance, but to drive. Steering is taken care of by two simple buttons - left and right - or via the accelerometer. The latter is surprisingly awkward. Clearly there's been an effort to compensate for the stilted used of tilt controls by adding three sensitivity settings.
None quite gets it right, but fortunately the digital controls are equally uncharacteristic in their effectiveness. Use the buttons (on a slightly upgraded car), and Doodle Kart handles well.
Power-ups can be grabbed while racing, allowing for a speed boost, missile, or numerous other racing quirks. Individually these don't add a whole lot to the game, but the experience is richer overall for shooting the opponents into the occasional obstacle or tear in the paper.Crossing the thin red line
The cars are pretty basic in themselves, but a few successful laps around the maths paper and you're sure to shore up enough points for upgrades. This adds quite a bit to the initially poor handling of the cars when you first pick up the game, so a little perseverance is required to get the kind of car that you really want.
Expect a learning curve when it comes to drifting, which is used extensively here. The cars stick to the road quite well while your foot is on the pedal, but the turning circle is wide, so it takes some careful footwork to get the excellent slides just right.
A lack of any kind of multiplayer is a gaping hole in the paper of Doodle Kart's enjoyment, but everything else adds up to a casual racer that's nigh on impossible to dislike. Even if you're only half paying attention, you're guaranteed to come away from this game in a slightly better mood than when you started.