Sometimes I want to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to kart racing, the one kind of gaming I can be a sucker for. With big names like Mario Kart and underdog winners like Jimmie Johnson's Anything With An Engine, this racing sub-genre can be seen as the ultimate partying title (or, in some cases, the friendship ruiner). However, if these titles are like the Andrew W.K. of kart racing, then 3DClouds.it's All-Star Fruit Racing is the equivalent of Donald Trump hosting a Quinceañera!
Like most kart racers, All-Star Fruit Racing will have you traversing from track-to-track on many different areas. Here, where Nintendo's beloved franchise has many of their iconic characters, this game instead goes the Fanta route and transforms fruit into cute girls. (Okay, "cute" may not be the right word. They're kind of between the lines of "Uncanny Valley" creepy and Teletubbies acid trip.) As you race and win, you'll be given the chance to earn vehicle customizations and unlock other racers in the long run.
On the track, players will be given the chance to use various weaponry at their disposal to take the lead. In some races, you'll be given the tools of destruction right off the bat. Other times, you'll have to fill your weapon gauge by collecting fruits and selecting whichever ones fill up the fastest. The latter also gives you the chance to combine various powers to unleash a far bigger attack in the long run, with the game attempting some sort of strategic mannerism on how to play.
Sadly, this is as much as I can give for praise when it comes to All-Star Fruit Racing, as everything about this game just attracts one too many fruit flies in the salad it's concocting. For starters, let's talk about the visual aesthetics of the game. While the characters can be a bit weird per say, it's the rest of the world that tries too hard to go big with its presentation. It's like Sugar Rush in Wreck-It Ralph, only with fruits and no one seemingly having the time of their life on the track. (Hell, even its announcer sounds as excited as Steven Wright commentating a dog show.)
Very rarely do video games leave me feeling sick as I play through them, but this one managed to both make my eyes hurt and stomach turn. It's not because the game was too fast-paced, but rather it's overtly bubbly presentation makes me cringe all over my body. It reminded me of those awful CGI films you find in the display bin at your local Dollar Tree store, the kind you wouldn't even let your child suffer through. What should be a kid-friendly experience instead looks and feels like some sort of food poisoning episode written by David Lynch and directed by Lars Von Trier.
What makes All-Star Fruit Racing worse is how the tracks are set up. I would understand if a racing game was trying to up the challenge with some sharp turns and the like, but there are areas in these tracks where avoiding walls and turns are practically impossible. So much so, that even some of the AI racers found themselves stuck on numerous occasions, resulting in me crashing right into them as the roads were too narrow to avoid them.
If this were an isolated incident, then I would've chalked it up as someone who was merely bad at this game. However, when I handed the controller to my roommate so he can give it a try, he was having the exact same issues at the exact same spots on the tracks. Even when we restarted the race and tried to familiarize ourselves with its layout, the end results were the same: corners being too sharp to properly steer ahead, and tracks being too narrow to fully drive through with little issue. This made the level designs more frustrating than challenging, as if the game is set up for you to fail right from the get-go.
On top of that, there are many layouts that are confusing as hell to figure out. In some levels, the roads look to be set up to jettison towards a fork in the road. However, when you drive into what looks like another road, you're greeted with a respawn that just happens out of nowhere. Again, this happens on one too many occasions, to the point where any feeling of wanting to continue the race just dies into the darkest pits of one's belly. And then, what little emotion is left will be farted out, leaving as bad a stink as three week-old boiled cabbage.
It gets more mind-numbingly bad when you attempt to play this with split-screen multiplayer. Because the roads are too narrow, you can't see the entirety of what's in front of you. As such, you'll be crashing more into walls, fall off of tracks, and deal with last place rankings throughout your race time. Nary a moment of fun will come from playing this game with friends, that's for sure!
As such, with the 6+ hours that I put into playing All-Star Fruit Racing, I managed to only rank in the Top 3 vehicles in a race two times! Attempting to drive on these tracks is like being forced to ride through a cobblestone road with Amish carriages placed all the way through. Oh well, at least I learned what the largest fruit grown on trees is during the long loading periods. (It's the jackfruit, in case you were curious.)
- Good amount of kart customization
- ...You learn some fruit facts from time-to-time?
- Terrible level designs
- Nauseating visuals
- Poor multiplayer presentation
All-Star Fruit Racing is the kind of game you'd force your worst enemies to play for hours on end. With its eye-hurting visuals, poor track design, and awful multiplayer, this racer goes to show that maybe some gaming industry "veterans" were let go for a reason. Needless to say, All-Star Fruit Racing will leave you feeling more sour than sweet in the long run.
Promotional consideration provided by Stefano Petrullo of Renaissance PR. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.