If you ask anyone to name a kart-based racing game I can guarantee that about 99% of people will say Mario Kart, a few may say Project Cars, but the majority will be focused on Mario. Now, what if you reduced the number of characters, changed all the power-ups to be fruit-based, added a few interesting new mechanics, and launched it on every platform under the sun (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)? That’s what developer 3DClouds.it has done with All-Star Fruit Racing as the game feels like Mario Kart yet without the shells and banana skins (which would have been appropriate!).
Clearly, there is more to All-Star Fruit Racing than just a simple clone though as the game has a few unusual design choices and a rather strange method of choosing which ability to use. I have a feeling this is going to be another detailed review so strap in while we go for a ride!
All-Star Fruit Racing is clearly a racing game, therefore the story is non-existent. Your goal is to come number one in whichever mode you wish to play. However, it’s not going to be as simple as that as there are quite a lot of modes to pick between and the championships actually offer a decent amount of challenge and you can sometimes get screwed over – just like when someone throws a blue shell in MK (Mario Kart). Oh, I’ll probably refer to MK a lot within this review as well.
First things first, let’s talk about the customisation and the characters as this is one of the strangest things I’ve seen for a while. Once the game’s loaded up – jump into your garage to pimp out your ride. Here you can change everything you could dream of, such as your vehicle type, skin, wheels, rims, grill, horn, and even what fruit you want to be perched on your aerial. You can even randomise the creation and re-paint everything free of charge – which is nice compared to paying for every little visual change in The Crew 2. The only point here is that in the beginning you only have access to a very limited selection as most items will require unlocking through progressing within the game. This isn’t an issue though as everything is purely cosmetic and doesn’t alter the stats of the vehicle at all.
Now for the part I found unusual. I get that at the moment a lot of people are pushing for more females to appear in games and that certain people are fed up with having male protagonists all the time etc… However, All-Star Fruit Racings character selection is made up of five guys and seventeen girls. Again, not an issue as at least you have both… Well, you do if you go out of your way to unlock the guys. By default, all five guys and seven of the girls are locked behind certain criteria such as beating time trials or winning certain cups. I’m not quite sure why it was decided that only 1/4 of the characters would be male and they would all be locked at the beginning, but it’s a decision which I found rather strange and something I’ve not seen before.
Before jumping in and discussing the various gameplay modes I think I need to explain the common elements and mechanics which all modes share as it will save a lot of repetition and it may make things clearer in the long run.
Tracks: Overall there are 21 tracks within All-Star Fruit Racing. These are all sourced from five rather imaginative worlds: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Special ‘island’. Each ‘island’ has its own aesthetic such as the snow-filled tracks with giant snowballs and the massive volcanos which you must traverse without falling in.
Modes: Each of the 21 tracks can be played with any of the following modes:
• Random Juicer: drive over a pick-up and get a random item
• Juicer: Pick up fruit to use the unique combat mechanic
• Dragster: The Mega-Juicer refills over time – no pickups
• Elimination: The person in the last place is eliminated after a set amount of seconds
• Elimination Mix: Same as the above only the timer before destruction is random.
This is probably the most confusing, yet the most innovative part of All-Star Fruit Racing – the actual combat mechanics. I’ve placed a chart above which shows you all of the special moves you have at your disposal, all fifteen of them! Now, when you’re playing Dragster or Random Juicer you won’t have to worry about the above as you will be either only getting the Mega-Juice attack or you will randomly get any of the above (based on the mode you are in). But in all other modes, you will be using the above.
It’s not as complicated as it seems. Basically, on your display in-game, in the lower right corner, you will see four colour juice vials – Blue, green, orange and red. As you pick up fruit, these vials will increase with juice. Once a vial is full of juice, you can utilise it to perform any of the above. The tricky part comes in setting it up. By default, all vials are active, so if you use a powerup, it will just see which vials are full and combine them together to give you whatever ability that creates. If you wish to only boost, for example, you need to tap Triangle, Square and Cross, so only Circle is connected to the attack dispenser.
To put it simply, you must enable or disable the various connections to the four various fruit sources and then push in the R3 button in order to utilise whichever vials are currently connected to the special attack option. Once you’ve played it for a while, you will get the hang of it and you’ll start to remember the combinations of the abilities you find most helpful. Personally, I tend to use the speed boosts more than anything so that’s nice and easy to remember.
Many ways to play:
Okay, with the above in mind, here are the various way’s you’ll be playing All-Star Fruit Racing:
Career: Compete in 11 cups which go from very easy to outright insane levels of difficulty. There is no 150cc, 200cc, 250cc etc here, just one difficulty per cup which increases the more you progress which is symbolised by ‘pistons’. The more pistons, the faster the karts – including the AI. Also, if you haven’t worked it out – 21 tracks between 11 cups means some tracks will be used more than once – however, they will be played with different modes (as above) so each play will appear different.
Custom Race: Pick an island, a course, a mode, number of laps, number of pistons, and how many vehicles (including yourself) are participating. Once done, off you go for a quick race which meets your criteria. Great if you want a practice or if you just want to replay one of your favourite tracks.
Time Trial: What you would expect – Pick an island, course, and how many pistons you are using and off you go as you try to set some new land-speed records!
Custom Championship: Pick all the same options you would in ‘Custom Race’ only this time you are selecting four to six courses at a time. Once set, pick your overall piston rating and off you go as you race your own custom-built cup with your own selection of both tracks and modes (which are chosen per-track).
Fast Championship: This basically automatically selects four to six races and modes for you to play – you just pick what piston rating you want and how many AI opponents. This is great if you have completed all the pre-built cups but want to play a new selection without the hassle of picking the various options for yourself.
Training: This is a set of four training modes for you to participate in if you are having issues playing the game. You will be forced to play through these the first time you play the game automatically, so you may not have to ever use these.
Online Mode: This is the final mode – here you can either join someones ‘lobby’ or create your own. Just like Custom Championship, you can pick up to six courses (although you can do less than four in this mode too), each with their own modes, and then either invite your friends or wait for a random person to join you. As I’ve been playing this pre-release I’ve not seen anyone within the lobby but I imagine this will change once the game officially comes out. You can also play against up to seven human players within this mode as well – eight including yourself.
All-Star Fruit Racing supports up to four-player split-screen action, so two, three or four at a time. This will allow you to all huddle around the TV and enjoy some good old fashioned couch multiplayer, something a lot of games have strayed away from recently.
Graphically, All-Star Fruit Racing is very clean. Everything looks nice and sharp, the character models are well put together and the environments are really cool with the various different islands and ‘seasons’. The effects of the powerups are good, even though the actual power-ups themselves are a bit lacklustre, especially the Mega-Juice attacks which are meant to be the strongest attacks you can do yet most of them are very short range and hardly do any damage. The soundtrack is good though. I’ve had the game playing in the background whilst writing this – it’s all very ‘pop’-like and upbeat. It matches the aesthetic of the game and the overall feel of the races.
So, that’s the literal side out of the way – what did I actually think about All-Star Fruit Racing as I was playing it? First of all, this ain’t Mario Kart even though you can see the similarities. You can perform drifts as you go around the corners which give you a boost if used correctly, the difference here is that the tires can fail and stun you if you drift too often. I thought that was a cool addition and it made me think twice about continuously drifting like I would in MK. This game suffers from the same unfair mechanic that MK has where the CPU will tend to gang up on you and take you out if you get in front of them. I may just be paranoid here but about 8/10 times when I was near other CPU karts, they would all pick me off and cause me to lose my position.
The tracks themselves are well designed and well detailed. I like the variations of the different season based islands and the bright, bold colours. If anything, a few of the courses remind me of the racing world in Wreck-it Ralph, only with fruit instead of sweets! The fact that all the guys are locked behind progression, yet there are 10 females from the start, was a bit unusual and confused me a little as I’m not sure if they are trying to target young girls as their audience? Maybe they believe it’s what gamers want? I’m not sure – it’s not an issue and not worth degrading a game over, but it’s unusual.
The major issue here is the sound effects. I’m sure kids will love the constant laughing, the repetitive one-liners and the loudness of said voices. There is no option to actually turn down or off the voices without also affecting the sounds of the vehicles themselves. Personally, I feel All-Star Fruit Racing needs a slider for the in-game voices, the option to turn them off, or at least the developers needs to reduce the number of laughs and screams the drivers provide.
A few courses within the game:
All-Star Fruit Racing is a fun family-friendly multi-platform kart racing game. I had a blast playing it as it reminded me of a lower budget Mario Kart yet with its own personality and charm. The combat mechanics, when using Fruit Mode, are a little daunting at first yet once you have used it a few times, it’s actually really innovative and it actually lets you collect up to four abilities at a time or less if you wish to combine them ala Magicka style. The voices and laughing do become irritating for adults after a while, although kids may not think the same as young children usually like words and phrases being repeated. With its 11 cups, 21 tracks, over 35,000 customisation combinations, unlimited number of custom tournament options, and the online mode – you’ll be kept entertained for a very long time! We’ve not had a fun karting experience on consoles outside of Nintendo for a while so it’s nice to see that All-Star Fruit Racing is happily filling that void for us.
All-Star Fruit Racing£34.99
- Very colourful and bright
- One of the better non-Mario Kart karting games out there
- Interesting gameplay mechanic with it's Juicer weapon
- Lots of variety with the vehicles aesthetic and the settings of custom races and cups
- Fun for all the family - a great karting experience for people of all ages on any platform
- Some of the animations are a bit overused - like the standard jumping animation and the menu ones
- The sound effects (like the horn) are too loud by default as they drown out the other sounds
- The AI can be difficult to catch up to if you make a mistake sometimes - just like in The Crew 2
- Not using this against the game, but only 1/4 of the characters are male and are locked behind progression by default
- Very irritating and repetitive laughing which has no audio slider