Touring Karts (PlayStation 4) Review

By Luke Hemming 04.02.2020

Review for Touring Karts on PlayStation 4

When hearing the word 'Kart,' only one shining example immediately springs to mind, and with that thought comes an expectance of quality. Of course there have been other pretenders to the throne and many of the newer titles such as Crash Team Racing have a loyal fanbase that also rides the wave of nostalgia. With all of the expectancy and hype then, it feels like a brave choice to release a kart racer, not only without ties to any other franchise, but one bold enough to offer the full experience primarily through the PlayStation VR unit. Is a product that ambitious from a developer outside of the karting powerhouses destined to fail? Luckily, after only a short time with the title, Touring Karts VR shows itself to be a bit of a hidden gem.

From the initial menu at start up, it's clear that there's content aplenty to be found, and that a great deal of care has been made by Ivanovich Games to ensure that its product will not get lost in a sea of sub-standard VR attempts. With 22 tracks available, and 30 customisable cars, there's enough for anyone to keep re-visiting this for short, quick thrills. Not content with just customisation and variety, however, an objective system has been implemented to ensure repeated visits. The objective system, of course, may be the greatest and most obvious implementation to a karting game. Progress is as expected, complete a race, and aim to take the pole position or at the very least top three, then reap the rewards to buy new equipment. With the new items equipped, enter longer and more challenging cups. Rinse and Repeat.

Screenshot for Touring Karts on PlayStation 4

Not a system that is unfamiliar, and certainly one that has never needed reinvigorating or re-inventing in order to make a karting sim seem fun. It is what it is and nobody could ever feel hard done by if that is all that was available to them. One race with the objective system, however, and anything without it seems empty - hollow. As the race loads, two objectives are presented on screen. These range from using a particular weapon to deliberately crashing and going on to ensure victory. If the criteria set is met, extra coins are given to spend as the victor sees fit.

It's a fresh mechanic that feels new and innovative, and easily one of the strongest features on offer. There really is a lot to splurge on in terms of customisation as well. Aesthetically all karts are easily distinguishable and unique, and each karting team reeks of its own personality. It feels as if there is a lid for every pot, thus every player will settle into a favourite load out. A personal favourite is the option to change the default horn to a roar - both pointless and beautiful.

Screenshot for Touring Karts on PlayStation 4

Once set up and ready to race, pretty much any combination of control scheme is supported. Standard analogue controllers with a familiar shoulder button acceleration, as well as full control with the PlayStation Move - and even that weird Rudder thing that was advertised for a week and nobody bought. Controls are as responsive as could be expected, and there are some neat little VR touches to add to the immersion. If using the move controllers a tilt of the head and throwing motion will toss any stored weapon at an unsuspecting opponent. Taking advantage of the VR headset also means players can spin their head a quick 90 degrees and drop items behind them. Immersive gameplay is vital in a VR title, and although a little touch, it really helps sell the experience.

What should be a deal breaker however is the handling of the karts. These things move like a bear skating on ice, and not a professional bear either, but one with no aspirations of getting an Olympic gold medal. Drifting seems to only result in crashing into other karts, or a wall, and karts float aimlessly through the sky in whatever direction you fancy once leaving a jump. All signs should point to that being enough to leave this on the shelf, but somehow, it just doesn't seem to affect how darn fun this actually is.

Screenshot for Touring Karts on PlayStation 4

Weapons are creative and even further buffed by the ability to combine them. Chicken and a growth power-up? Giant chicken of death. Lighting and a mallet? Suddenly all others bow to the god of thunder and his mighty Mjolnir. It's all bonkers, and it will keep you grinning throughout. In the PlayStation version at least, any combination and use of a weapon also reaps the reward of a trophy. This reviewer is not a trophy hunter by any means, but anybody would find it hard pressed to not enjoy the ping of 10 trophies in one race. The Level design also ensures that this doesn't let the side down due to its fan service and references.

Levels are small and aren't the most polished to look at, but they bulge with nostalgic eye candy. Karts weave in and out of the legs of a firing AT-AT, dodge barrels thrown by a giant monkey and even have to ensure not to be knocked off course by a "day of the" tentacle. Any VR game should encourage multiple viewing and head movement and this does not disappoint. One final mention has to go to the great, and fitting music themes each course has. There is more than a passing resemblance to the tunes of a dungaree wearing racer, so much in fact that it seems a quick legal dispute would be resolved with almost immediate effect. Happy, joyful tones, and sound effects give anyone familiar with that other moustached guys efforts a warm feeling of familiarity and comfort.

Screenshot for Touring Karts on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There is no denying that Touring Karts VR is rough around the edges. It's clearly a labour of love, though, and is far more enjoyable than something not made by the big three has any right to be. With its wealth of customisation options, and immediate gratification through objectives and trophies, nobody could be expected to want more. It's a huge surprise and delight then to find fun gameplay, great music, and some real love put into each and every distinct track. If there is a VR headset gathering dust, take the punt and pick this up. The stall has been set out for future kart sims, and it's a pretty high bar to clear, even if those bears can't skate.

Developer

Ivanovich Games

Publisher

Ivanovich Games

Genre

Driving

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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