Kart racing: it seems to be every video game mascots favourite recreational activity. From the aggressive use of absurd items to ridiculous tracks that can’t be found in the highway code, there’s a whole load of fun to be had with what is actually a bit of a strange concept. Most of you will have had experience with the popular traffic offenders, such as plumbers, bandicoots and primate siblings, yet so many other franchises also tried to get a piece of rubber burning glory. With that being said, here are 7 cart racing games that you should give a try, in no particular order.
Looney Tunes Racing (PlayStation)
With cart racing already being as wacky a concept as it is, it’s no surprise that Bugs and his absurd gang managed to bag their own racer. As mentioned in our Looney Tunes games list, this high octane speed-fest features a whole load of classic characters and an arsenal of weapons.
The attention to detail when it comes to the tracks is also something special, with vibrant tracks that stay true to the nature of the original cartoons. There’s also something ridiculous about dropping anvils on your opponent’s heads while ‘Largo al Factotum’ plays, which is to be expected when it comes to a Looney tunes soundtrack. Definitely try this one out, especially if you want to focus your aggressive tactics on Daffy Duck (Who doesn’t?).
The Muppets RaceMania (PlayStation)
Here’s another group of demented characters that suit being violent behind wheels, and this time they don’t need Henson’s hand where the sun doesn’t shine. The Muppets are fairly ridiculous as a standard, but if you squeeze them into tiny vehicles, the hilarity amplifies.
The cars in this game control more like RC toys than other racers, which suits The Muppet’s aesthetic entirely. Unlike traditional racers, the tracks in this game are frantic, with most of what you drive on being far from traditional tarmac. From swamps with lily pads, to inside someone’s house, it’s hard to not be entertained throughout your chaotic commute to the finish line. There’s also the added bonus of some classic Muppets FMV cut-scenes, just in case this game wasn’t serious enough.
The only gripe about this game is the lack of dialogue from the Muppets during races, which would have perfect, but you can’t have it all when it comes to the early days of the original PlayStation.
Toy Story Racer (PlayStation)
Ask any kid from the ’90s what their favourite car chase scene is and there’s a high chance they’ll say it’s Woody and Buzz tailing Andy’s removal truck on top of RC. Toy Story Racer is a game that fully embraces the magic of toys coming to life and getting into shenanigans.
This quirky racer features a whole toy box of characters from the film, alongside tracks that reside within scenes of the film. The attention to detail in each stage makes each race intriguing, with characters like Scud the dog featuring in the background. There are also various shortcuts in each stage which feel great to use if you can manage to pull them off.
This game actually uses the same engine as The Muppets RaceMania, since both titles were developed by Travelers Tales, who clearly had a vision for what a cart racing game should feel like. Once again, we have remote control cars like vehicles, which give the controls that unique tight but nippy feel. If you’re excited about the new Toy Story film this year, then you’ll want to grab a shot of this to get you hyped up even more.
Lego Racers (PlayStation)
It should be to surprise that there’s a Lego game on this list since everything in existence seems to have a Lego equivalent. Released in 1999, Lego Racers is a prime example of creativity with the genre, with the main quirk being customizable Lego vehicles. The fact that you could build your own car, design your own mini-figure then use it in the game was a fantastic feature for a game from this generation.
As is to be expected, everything is rather tongue and cheek when it comes to Lego racers, with characters that reflect sets across the Lego range. From pirates to evil dark lords, there’s a multitude of mini-figures out to leave you in the dust. In order to succeed against this band of reckless roadsters, you’ll have to use the games red, yellow, blue and green power-up bricks, as well as avoid the various hazards you come to expect in a kart racer.
This is definitely one for the Lego fans, especially since there hasn’t been a Lego kart racer since the sequel in 2001.
Digimon Racer (Game Boy Advance)
let’s face it, Digimon was Pokemon’s cooler, edgier, sibling that featured some dramatic storylines and character deaths. While there has been a range of Digimon games available throughout the years, you might not have expected one of them to be a kart racer.
Releasing exclusively on the Game Boy Advance, Digimon racer features similar graphics to Super Mario Kart, with that classic Super Nintendo mode 7 styles. One of the intriguing features of this anime racer is the characters ability to digivolve during races by using an item. This increases the Digimon’s ability potency, providing the edge needed to get ahead of the game.
Speaking of the game’s characters, if you count each digivolved racer, there’s over 40 different Digimon to race as, making it one of the biggest character rosters in any kart racer. The tracks set in the digiworld are pretty nice too, despite the limitations of the GBA hardware. It might be one of the more basic looking racers on this list, but it’s a must-play for any Digimon fan.
South Park Rally (Nintendo 64)
If you’re looking for some vulgarity with your vehicles, then look no further than South Park Rally. For those of you that are familiar with the premise of South Park, you’ll be aware of its reputation as one of the most outlandish animated shows to this day.
This title has an impressive number of playable characters, with 8 being available from the get to go and 27 additional citizens of South Park being unlockable. There’s also an absurd collection of items to use during the race, including explosive diarrhoea and anal probes, just in case you forgot what show this is based on.
Despite Trey Parker and Matt Stone not having much involvement in development, the game features various lines of dialogue from the show, which helps keep things entertaining. The stages, while not massively impressive graphically, stay true to the nature of the show, bringing back memories of episodes and events. As for the actual mechanics of the game, things are a little on the simplistic side, especially compared to other racers.
While this game received poor reviews back in the day, it’s still worth a go, be it out of curiosity or just to laugh at fart jokes.
Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour (PlayStation)
This one has a bit of a long-winded title, but it’s still not as ridiculous as Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. It makes sense that Disney would jump on the bandwagon when it comes to kart racers, however, this title isn’t quite what you might expect. The character roster is the first thing that will catch you off guard, as apart from Chip and Dale and Jimminey Cricket, there are no iconic Disney characters to be seen.
This game is actually based more on real-life attractions at the Disney World theme park, rather than any of the Disney movie franchises. While that might be disappointing to some, it makes for quite a unique experience, especially for those familiar with the Disney World experience. Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion are but a few of the attractions that feature as tracks within this game, which make for great themes when it comes to a kart racer. Each track also features its authentic theme from the park, which is a nice touch.
As for the gameplay, it’s your standard kart racing affair, with better controls than some of its competition. The main criticism of the game is the difficulty, which like many other games is down to the AI players. Never the less, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll want to get a hold of this one. Saying that some of the polygon-based racers are slightly terrifying to look at.
There are tonnes more out there when it comes to kart racers, and perhaps we will talk about more of them another time. In the meanwhile, why not leave us some suggestions on kart racers you love, hate or just find plain weird.