When it comes to arcade-style karting games, Mario Kart has always been in the pole position. Whether you like or dislike them isn’t that important. With varying degrees of success we’ve seen endless challengers like Diddy Kong Racing, Crash Team Racing, Little Big Planet Karting, Sonic All-Stars, ModNation and many, many others come and go. The point is clear: it’s a well-trodden genre where few have succeeded and most have stalled.
Unfortunately, Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers hits many of the same speed traps that have stalled countless competitors out of the gate, burning out long before it hits the home stretch. I hate to be so critical about a budget-friendly game, but there are just too many shortcomings in its overall design to recommend.
The racing itself feels fine, and the presentation isn’t that different than what you’d expect to see on a mobile game – only with actual controls and buttons to alleviate funky touchscreen controls. Single-player races offer a modicum of entertainment value, though are consistently easy thanks to minimal difficulty and rubberband AI. There are lots of different cars to unlock through stage progression and finishing first place. The tracks themselves can be interesting at times, but other than this you’re left with some fairly disappointing modes and half-baked ideas.
It was infuriatingly disorienting to miss a turn and then have the player ahead of me pass me up only to have the screen wipe past me, taking me with it. Seconds later I’d disappear and reappear right behind my opponent, never knowing exactly where I was and only to have the same thing happen again and again. Even worse is that, through all of this popping in and out, I was still able to zoom to victory – despite feeling icky about it. This is a game promoting same-screen play but actively works counterintuitive to that ideal. I tried to see if online play helped alleviate the pain, which is kind of did, but good luck finding any matches to compete in.
The second chunk of content revolves around the various battle modes: Coins, Smash, Paint, and Goal. Honestly, playing these modes on the same screen with others is probably the most fun you’ll have with the game. Thankfully, each is fairly self-explanatory: Coins has you collecting coins – the car with the most wins, Smash had everyone on a platform – the car who gets knocked off the least wins, Paint had us painting the road a la Splatoon or Tony Hawk – the player with the most percentage at the end wins, and, lastly, Goal had us playing a mini-Rocket League – the most goals win. Simple and straightforward.
Each mode was fun enough with a second player, but playing them solo was kind of a nightmare. Instead of adding any AI at all to do any of the above modes, you’re left to complete them all by yourself. Coins was just solo coin collecting? Smash had you hitting boxes and making them fall into the water? Paint had you painting the road by yourself? On and on, it was just baffling to me that they took these modes and made them entirely solo instead of just adding some bots to liven it up.
If you have small kids that want a new karting game, Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers might be a good option…if you absolutely don’t have a better option. Again, it’s a very budget-friendly game that will only set you back one-sixth of what those ‘other’ kart racers will; but once you factor in the many flaws and misguided design choices it doesn’t seem like much of a bargain.