NASCAR Kart Racing Review (Wii)
If NASCAR Kart Racing was an athlete, it would be Kyle Korver. In other words, it is far from being a big deal but is still quite serviceable.
NASCAR Kart Racing is a clone of Mario Kart, for better or worse. The big problem is that NASCAR Kart Racing does not do kart racing quite as well as Mario Kart does kart racing. But, I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy the game -- some of the gameplay mechanics were relatively fun, and the control scheme works really well.
For the controls, you simply press "2" to accelerate, "1" to go in reverse, and "B" to power slide around sharp corners. The up and down directional buttons allow you to look backwards while the left and right directional buttons allow you to shoot your power-ups either forwards or backwards.
To put it as simply as possible, you should not have much trouble at all figuring out the controls for NASCAR Kart Racing. As a side note, I highly recommend you get the Wii steering wheel (the one that comes with Wii Mario Kart) for this game because it will make your life a lot easier.
There is definitely track variety. There are twelve tracks in all, including one traditional NASCAR track (Talledega). The other 11 fictional tracks are rather simple to master, but they are varied so that helps keep them interesting.
What I did not like was how easy the game was. Even on the harder difficulties, I was still able to win most of my races after a quick adjustment to the difficulty. This is a sign, to me at least, that NASCAR Kart Racing was designed with the multiplayer experience in mind.
The core gameplay is pretty good in a multiplayer environment. The racing action is a definite clone of Mario Kart, with power-ups, speed boosts and the like included. NASCAR Kart Racing also tries to include some NASCAR themed ideas that seem to be stolen from Talladega Nights.
Dinosaur Canyon, just one of the twelve locals in NASCAR Kart Racing.
One such influence is the slingshot boost (shake and bake anyone?). The goal of the slingshot boost is to simply race with your teammate to gain a boost or a speed burst. So if you race alongside your teammate, you can simply keep boosting back and forth throughout the entire race.
Of course, this feature was also present in Mario Kart by the name of power drifting, but who is keeping track?
The power-ups are virtually identical to the power-ups found in Mario Kart, but they are simply rebranded under different names. The missiles in NASCAR Kart Racing are exactly the same as Mario Kart's turtle shells, while the "your ad here" power-up shows your opponent's sponsor and picture over the entire screen to block your view, which is very similar to the Mario Kart squid ink power-up.
Speaking of ads in the game, a little bit ago I wrote a blog discussing the over-the-top advertising 2K Sports implemented in Major League Baseball 2K9. EA Freestyle has upped the ante ten-fold here. Everywhere you look, there is a new form of branding and in-game advertising for NASCAR Kart Racing.
It's not exactly like racing three wide, but it's serviceable.
The tracks are smattered with ads and the "your ad here" power-up displays a driver's ad over the screen and obstructs your view. So while NASCAR is a sport heavily influenced by advertisers, do we really need to be hit in the face so viciously with advertising in a game that is tailored toward a younger crowd?
The game offers a very basic set of game modes, but the set is enough for a game of this genre. In the main menu, you can select from a Championship mode, a Quick Race mode, and a Special Events mode.
The Championship mode allows you to race various circuits and complete various races and challenges, which unlock characters and tracks. The Quick Race mode simply allows you to jump in and race. And, the four special events include best lap, team best lap, precision driving and a distance challenge.
The gameplay is fun, but it comes off as nothing more than a rebranding of a Mario Kart clone. I had a been-there-done-that feeling during the first race of NASCAR Kart Racing. With a lack of an online mode, the game simply has no staying power unless a group of friends is around; and even then, you will not reach for NASCAR Kart Racing first if there is another viable choice.
If you are a fan of NASCAR and want to play something new and fun with your favorite drivers, this might be the game for you. If you are looking for a Wii party racer, there are better options.
On The Track: NASCAR Kart Racing is fun, but if you have played Mario Kart on the Wii, you will notice everything within has been done before.
Graphics: Sub-par at best, but at least the graphics are 60 frames per second. The game looks slightly better than a Gamecube game.
Sound: It is there, but it is not great. The characters sound like they were ripped straight from a copy of The Sims. The sound effects on the track are adequate but not great.
Entertainment Value: This game is fun, especially with friends. The problem is, unless you have friends to play it with, you will beat the game rather quickly and not have much of a reason to keep playing.
Learning Curve: Two, maybe three races. After you play a couple of laps, you will get a basic understanding of what NASCAR Kart Racing is trying to do, and you will be set from that point on.
Score: 6.5 (Decent)