Kart racing games have a special place in my heart. They aren’t intended to be robust experiences. Instead, they are a whimsical take on the racing genre. You can’t talk about kart-racers without Mario Kart, of course. Others have found success, too: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Crash Team Racing are two of my favorite games to date. Each brought something new and fun. All-Star Fruit Racing makes a fair attempt to seat itself among those titles. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t have the juice to contend with the best of them.
All-Star Fruit Racing is a kart racing game developed by 3DClouds.it. From its website, it seems the company has found great success in creating various works, such as 3D renderings and other outsourced work. It seems also that this is the company’s first attempt at a video game.
The main mechanic in All-Star Fruit Racing is the ability to pick up fruit orbs in order to gain power-ups. During a race, you can obtain Spring, Winter, Fall, and Summer fruits in order to fill these gauges. Each of the fruit containers can be detached or attached in specific sequences in order to activate certain power-up moves. The face buttons correspond to the containers. Every racer has a specific special ability that can be enacted when all of the fruit gauges are filled.
Some of the special attacks are unique and can pack a wallop. Although they are mostly fun to use, some of them can only fire forward or backward. That’s the same for other power-ups in the game. Pushing the RS fires off whatever power-up you have. Even though I’ve spent enough time with the game, I never really found myself mixing and matching much in order to obtain certain power-ups. At most, it feels more of a nuisance than anything.
Much like other racers, there is a mix of modes to run through. The standard career championship mode staples together different types of races much like the different cup races that can be found in Mario Kart. The Fast Championship allows you to do a set of races, changing the difficulty and number of participants. Doing well in these areas allows you to unlock new characters and customizations for your car.
There’s a good variety of race modes when you tear through the Grand Prix. You’ll find single-lap sprints or races where you only are able to use your special mode with a cooldown timer. I did find that the variety kept things moving during the championship race modes.
The majority of the game is pretty standard for a kart racing title. There is also a nice drifting mechanic that works fairly well during races, adding a boost for successfully completing long drifts. Pushing your vehicle for extended drifts will cause it to overheat. But, if you’re able to wobble from left-to-right when doing so, you can extend your drift to multiple turns.
While I was reviewing the game, there was something completely broken with the game’s AI system. Just a few hours ago the game started initializing an update. I was hoping that this would lead to a fix in the game’s difficulty, as well as maybe add the online portion to the game. To my surprise, both of these things were corrected in the update. However, I already had a bad taste in my mouth from my previous experience. It was hard to shake what I put up with during my initial playthrough. The game was simply broken, for example, having AI flying off into the distance with no amount of powerups or speed that could catch the pack leaders.
Outside of the previously poor AI rubber-banding, the general kart racing feels clunky. Hitting another racer can cause you come to a complete stop, leaving you to be hit by consecutive enemy objects. Getting stuck behind them also leaves you to be haphazardly slingshotted around them once you have room to move. The terrain around racetracks is not forgiving either. When you hit the ice blocks, rocks, or shrubbery that line the track, you come to a screeching halt. This is one of the more frustrating portions to the game: not feeling like a polished arcade-y racer.
If there’s something to marvel at in All-Star Fruit Racing, it’s that the level design is amazing. There’s a track, Dino Juice, that pays homage to the opening front gates in Jurassic Park. It even has a T-Rex that breaks out for a romp down the track. He tries to nip at you when cruising past it. I didn’t get to experience this cool feature until the patch hit, however. I didn’t get to experience being potentially trampled due to the AI being so far ahead of me during the race and enacting this sequence without me.
Honestly, I wanted to like All-Star Fruit Racing. The trailers for the game made it seem like a fun and original racer. The trailer made it seem like there was excitement to be had inside. Instead, the game has a broken AI system and clunky design: the complete opposite of what I thought it would be.
I find it surprising that All-Star Fruit Racing has a hefty price tag of $35.99 in the Nintendo Switch eShop. My first dive into the game left a really sour taste in my mouth. There was a broken AI system that simply did not allow me to get gold in any of the races in order to unlock the rest of the characters. Most of them are generic in design, minus a few interesting ones with special attacks.
I was really hard on the game for having a broken system. Even with the patch, I still can’t shake what I initially had played. I was simply hoping for a more enjoyable experience. It feels more like something that you would find on Early Access or a concept, not a full-fledged release.
All-Star Fruit Racing is available today on the Switch eShop.
A review code was provided by the publisher.