Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine

Jimmie Johnson is a man known for his racing skills, but when he's not behind the wheel of his NASCAR machine, he’s also a man who enjoys a good old-fashioned kart racer. Unfortunately, one of his favorite games, Mario Kart, never felt like a title he was proud to show off to his non-gaming pals. NASCAR is serious business, and Mario Kart is far from that.

It’s because of this disconnect that Jimmie Johnson teamed up with Autumn Games to make Jimmie Johnson’s Anything with an Engine, a kart racer with a slightly more grown-up feel and inspired Jimmie's willingness to race anything, from NASCARs to lawnmowers. Jimmie even has a set of motorized barstools in his house! Jimmie Johnson’s Anything with a Machine runs on the core philosophy that anything with an engine and wheels can race.

Like Mario Kart, Jimmie Johnson’s Anything with a Machine is a wacky kart racer with insane weapons and characters. Unlike Mario Kart, this is a game that requires a balance between nitro-boosting and braking through turns. Weapons are exclusive to each character, and they have to be earned by driving over glowing potions of the course. Additionally, players will need to visit the pit stops in each stage at least once per race as their vehicles accumulate damage.

The characters are a little unexpected. From an old lady in a grocery kart to a rich guy in a modified golf cart, the vehicles and drivers are unique, and the four power-ups, ranging from missiles to bumpers, are pimped out depending on performance. You don't pick them up like other items, but instead by racing over icons that build up to provide more boost and weapons.

Stages are also unique. They take place in a gigantic arena, and each one looks like crazy go kart tracks with impressive themes. One stage is based upon natural disasters occurring, and another one is all about a carnival. Stages also play an important role for lagging players. Jimmie Johnson’s Anything with an Engine doesn’t use rubber-banding. Instead, as players fall behind, portions of the track open to reveal shortcuts.

Multiplayer is a standard four-player split-screen and eight-player online feature. While traditional racing modes are offered, a new mode called Matador was unveiled. Eight players are split into groups of four, with each circling around the track in opposite directions. While they're still competing, at different points in the race players will slam into each other. It’s chaotic, and players never quite know how well they're doing when opponents are racing beside and across from them.

Jimmie Johnson’s Anything with an Engine is a fun game. It’s certainly not the first kart racing game, but it has a lighthearted approach, and, with the right price, could offer up some solid entertainment for XBLA and PSN gamers later this year, with Wii owners jumping in with a full retail release.

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Ben PerLee
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