If you’re looking for a new kid-friendly racing game that doesn’t follow too closely in Mario Kart’s drift trails, then All-Star Fruit Racing May be the game for you. The game is a fruit inspired kart racer which features 22 characters each inspired by a different fruit such as Kiwi’s, coconuts, strawberries and much more.
The first thing you’ll notice is that All-Star Fruit Racing looks extremely pretty, and it’s almost as though it takes inspiration from Wreck it Ralph’s races rather than video games like Mario Kart or Sonic Racing. The game has its own identity which is actually impressive as it’s pretty hard not to cross creative lines when developing a game like this.
As good as it looks, it needs more work with the game’s feel. The handling of cars is much more rigid and twitchy than other kart racers. Drifting feels off, in particular. The AI also seems to always be locked in right behind you, so that the other racers are never too far behind. This can be extremely frustrating even on easy mode where one mistake can result in a last-second loss.
The place where All-Star Fruit Racing really differentiates itself is with the pick-ups. Instead of having randomised boxes, you’re collecting fruit pieces to fill four separate meters for different fruits. You can unleash a filled up meter or combine them together to create the different attacks, such as turning opponents into ice cubes, blowing out tornadoes, blasting enemies with water and many more.
Each character also has an ultimate ability that needs you to fill up all four meters. These range from being simple acceleration bonuses to aggressive attacks on other racers, but a few are similar to each other. In general, the ultimates almost feel less special and useful than the other power-ups, because the game actively encourages you to use the juice from the fruit slices you collect very quickly.
There are eleven cups to earn in the career, by completing various races within the five worlds, each of which has been inspired by fruit. There’s also the Championship mode, which is like a condensed version of the tracks in career but with random game modes for each race. The races get much more difficult as you’re progressing and can be annoying, even for adults playing on easy difficulty like me.
The various game modes include Juicer, which is the standard race, Random Juicer, where you can combine different moves, Dragster, where moves and supers recharge faster over time, Elimination, which knocks one or more players out after each lap, and Elimination Mix, where the timer will eliminate the last player at a random point in the race instead of the end of the lap. These are probably the best ways to get familiar with each race type before you hop into the career though and there are training races, but in execution the rules of each race still feel strangely foreign.
All-Star Fruit Racing can get tedious when played for long periods. It’s just not as polished in terms of handling as games like Mario Kart, and that means it just simply doesn’t have the same kind of longevity of some of its rivals. Some of the modes are original, but can feel messy because they’ve not been explained that well before you jump in, despite the game offering a training mode.
The game also features a garage where you can customise the cars that you drive, but this is limited. There are many horns and radio antennas to choose from the start and players can earn other customisable parts through career mode, but earning everything can feel long-winded.
For those contemplating the game on Nintendo Switch, you should be aware that this version of the game does not feature online play at launch, though this is set to be added shortly after launch. The PlayStation 4 version has both private and public online modes, and works really well, so this will be a great addition to for the Switch once it arrives.
However, the Switch version still feels rough around the edges. While the game runs fine on the Switch in handheld mode, playing docked leads to frame rate hiccups, especially when taking jumps at high speed.
Another annoyance is that the loading times are long on both the tested platforms. However, in a nice educational touch these loading screens offer up facts about fruit that you might not know. It’s a good twist on the loading screen hints, and combined with the general aesthetic could help draw in younger children and make up for the wait.
Despite its issues, All-Star racing is an original take on the kid-friendly kart racer which offers a wonderful selection of fruit themed content to keep both children and adults entertained. It might not get everything right, but it’s a beautifully juicy start.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch & PS4 – Also available for Xbox One & PC