NASCAR Kart Racing

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
There was a time where the “kart racing” genre was ubiquitous. Now days, these games don’t release as often as they used to but with the success of Mario Kart Wii, that spurred others to take notice. NASCAR Kart Racing takes popular NASCAR drivers and some familiar track locations. Creative liberties were taken and new tracks and drivers were added to add some color and playfulness to the often serious NASCAR business.

What’s Hot
The kart racing formula has been done time and time again. NASCAR brings a new element into the race with the team style gameplay. Instead of picking just one character to race, you pick your primary racer and a partner that acts as a teammate of sorts. When you hit the tracks, if you and your partner get close enough, you’ll be “in the zone” and start charging boosting abilities. With some boost power under your belt, you can slingshot yourself a few positions ahead by using this arcade version of drafting. The AI controlled partner will also do the same and you’ll yo-yo to the top of the pack.

There is a lot of content packed in the game. You start out with an ample amount of racers to start and once you start knocking out circuit races, more and more tracks and drivers will unlock. You’ll be looking at 24 track layouts, 14 professional drivers and 10 original drivers. During the races, there will be plenty of opportunity to use weapons of all sorts. One of the personal favorites is the “Your Ad Here” attack that obstructs the view of your opponents with a goofy picture of your driver. It’s a tongue and cheek jab at the way ads are plastered wall to wall in the actual sport of NASCAR.

NASCAR barrows heavily from Mario Kart, which isn’t as bad as you might think. Sure, it loses some points for originality but if there is one game to learn and take ideas from, NASCAR couldn’t have picked a better one from the same genre. The mood is very playful and everything about NASCAR is over exaggerated to give a “kart” feeling that the plumber and his pals already paved.

What’s Not
NASCAR tries too hard to be like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. There are elements that are nearly ripped right from the pages of the script, like the French race car drivers that you race against right away. Drafting is an important part of the sport but when my racing partner and I were slingshotting each other, it was hard not to yell “shake ‘n bake.” It is one thing to borrow from a good kart racing game, but it is another thing to borrow from a mediocre Will Ferrell movie.

As for the ads, sure they are part of the sport, but they are over used in NASCAR. The one moment of self realization is the weaponized ad sticker and that’s as far as the self deprecating humor goes. There are so many other instances of in-game advertising that you’d nearly mistake it for a joke. A little advertising here and there shouldn’t be cause for alarm however, once you go above and way beyond the main sponsors of the cars, it tends to be too in your face.

Graphically, NASCAR isn’t all that impressive. Driver models look like lifeless plastic dolls and the overall quality looks to be something from the GameCube era more than anything. The sound effects are annoying with the gibberish voices and the guitar riffs that drench the gameplay are totally uninspired. Best to turn off the music and enjoy the game in silence.

Final Word
NASCAR is a fine little kart game. The speed is representative of the actual sport and the gameplay is solid enough to warrant you pulling out the Wii Wheel for a spin around track a few times.