With Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash having new racing games coming out on current gen platforms in the coming weeks & months, I’ve decided to take a look back at Kart Racing games, their origins and my experiences with them.
Kart racing games as we all know are a fun, simpler version of a console racer, often involving power ups or some form of combat. The first game to have this in-game combat was ‘Crashing Race’ in 1978 which was a simple old school arcade game where the aim was to crash as many AI cars as possible. Power Drift was the next game to follow the kart racing theme, which was released in 1988, which game featured tracks which were a little ‘crazier’ than your average racing game and go-karts. Over on the SNES at the dawn of the 1990’s came F-Zero, which created a new type of graphic which made the racing track look 3D-esque and made you feel like you were driving on a 3D plane… However the series that really perfected and incorporated these elements started in 1992, Mario Kart, and started kart racing games as we know them as it combined go-karts with combat, and also introduced power-ups to the scene. Let’s be honest, Mario Kart kind of cornered the market on these games.
Mario released a new Kart game on every generation following the success of Mario Kart, adding and changing characters, tracks and power ups (And eventually vehicle types). Mario Kart 64 introduced the famous blue shell and drift boosts, Mario Kart Double Dash allowed selectable vehicles and LAN multiplayer, Mario Kart DS introduced online multiplayer and a mission mode, GP (In Arcades) featured our first guest character – Pacman – And Mario Kart Wii had bikes and all the Wii control gimmicks. Mario Kart 7 introduced customisation, Mario Kart 8 had anti grav racing and DLC, and finally Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has the switch features, and features a Splatoon crossover – Although I haven’t actually played this one yet, it’s argued to be the best. Before this, a lot of opinions were that the 2 best are Mario Kart DS and Wii (I still play the Wii one every now and again). but in my opinion Crash Team Racing is the best kart game out there.
Since Mario Kart came into play there have been 50+ games (Which could be considered copycats) such as Diddy Kong racing, Nicktoons, South Park and even bloody Crazy Frog. A lot of these games seem to just take a popular franchise or cartoon and whack them all in a load of karts as you race around the track, whilst taking certain elements of what Nintendo were doing in their games and incorporating it. I personally think the Mario games work the best as they incorporate the drifting, crazy tracks, combat and power ups and they just don’t feel cheap! I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the Wii, but have always enjoyed Mario Kart overall – Saying this, though, I think Crash Team Racing was such a big deal to me as it was the first game outside of Mario Kart that really captured that magic, and wasn’t on a Nintendo console (I’ve always been a PlayStation fanboy), and did something different with it; it for sure felt like a different game as it felt it was more about the on track obstacles as opposed to the racing – Although this was still important.
I am most definitely excited to play the new Crash Team Racing, but no doubt I’ll be picking up Team Sonic Racing as well. It seems the time for the console mascots is coming back, which ain’t a bad thing in a landscape of quite serious gaming!