For reasons unclear it appears this year is in fact the year of karting games, especially with the Christmas run-up hosting three karting based titles and although we are not expected to go out and buy all of them, it's very hard to tell what is offering most bang for your bucks, especially with Christmas party pressures of some multiplayer mayhem after some gut busting turkey. Even though you have the karting perfection that is the long running Mario Kart series not all of us have a Nintendo console and there are only a finite amount of times before Mario Circuit and Ghost Valley lose their edge and with so many good clones out there, all hosting the karting prerequisite like power-ups, boost starts and selection of colourful characters. Well, the team at ShopTo have compiled a brief list of what's on offer with the newer releases and also mention some of the classics you should grab in case you missed them.
Race as your own personalized Sack Boy around developer created courses and if that's not enough, create and share your own courses. Since release there have been plenty of tracks appearing, of course many are facsimiles of Mario's outings but that is the only way these are going to appear on a console other than Nintendo's.
F1 Race Stars
Though older family members may not be aware of the likes of Koopa or Egg Man they are bound to of heard the likes of Button and Hamilton, with F1 Race Stars letting you race around some world famous race tracks like Monaco and Brazil, all with a little extra thrown in. Though not as deep as other kart games due to a lack of power slides there is still plenty of multiplayer fun to be had here as you control caricature likenesses of racing greats and decent variety of special moves.
Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed
Considering Sonic's recent exploits this came as a pleasant surprise with it being a corking looking title that lets us join in some mad races with Sonic and his SEGA buddies across SEGA themed tracks. Offering a load of content that includes a campaign tour, trophy tournaments and solid online play this is a real winner for your arcade karting needs.
Also away from the current karting run here are some other great classics you can grab either from retail or digital download.
Crash Team Racing
CTR came out of nowhere and is still a household favourite if you have a multi-tap for four players or better still download from PlayStation store. This offers not only some great multiplayer action but also a solid adventure mode, having you unlock the 16 courses and also participate in one vs one boss races.
Offering the perfect blend of skill and powerups that many copy but fail to match the sheer thrill of its simplistic but exciting gameplay; Mario Kart is a game for beginners and hardcore racers alike. With so many versions to choose from you are really spoilt for choice, with the more recent Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS and Mario Kart Wii each offering 16 new tracks plus another 16 tracks plucked from the many classic games that came before them. Everything about Mario Kart has been finely tuned from the great handling to the balance of powerups that balance the game out from the easy kill blue shell that will often cause arguments to the more professional use of sneakily using bananas as shields.
Diddy Kong Racing
One of RARE?s greatest achievements, taking everything about Mario Kart and creating a huge world full of races and side quests. Before the recent trend of transformations Diddy and gang were able to fly their own plane or hop into a hovercraft in specific courses, adding even more excitement to the already tried and tested karting format.
There are also a few titles that whilst not available on any modern consoles are worth a peek if your well into arcade karting and have an older console still sitting around with RARE returning to the N64 with a racer starring Mickey Mouse and pals in Mickeys Speedway USA and though not as perfect as Diddy Kong Racing it's still a great game to grab on the cheap.?Though to most there was only one kart game on the SNES, it wasn't just Mario Kart on the 16bit classic as with the rare usage of the multi-tap, Street Racer allowed for four player action that was a bit more violent than the cartoon antics of Mario. Finally, another PSOne classic made even better with the multi-tap, Speed Freaks, a log forgotten gem that for some reason has missed the digital update other, lesser gams have been granted though at the time was seen as a solid rival for Mario Kart.
Words by Ash Buchanan.