As someone who does not really get on with Mario Kart I was interested to sit down with All-Star Fruit Racing and see what this title had to offer. Currently in early access, the title is a colourful and cheerful kart racing game on the PC which offers plenty in the way of content for players to enjoy. Though development continues to add more to the game through continuous updates, I spent time with this title to see what identity it had as it tries to stand tall in the shadow of others.
All-Star Fruit Racing is built around the idea of being easy to learn but hard to master, and when you play the game, you can see where that ideology lies. At its core, the driving controls are accessible and will be second nature to anyone who has played a driving game before. The challenge comes in how you manage your drifting, as this is a key part of mastering any of the games tracks. You see, drifting is used to have better control on the track but when you exit a drift you gain a small boost of speed. This can make the difference when trying to overtake a fellow racer at a crucial time. However, if you drift too much your tyres will blow out, putting you into a stall and halting your progress for a moment.
Mastering a track will be the key to your success, as each one is unique and can be testing in their own right. From the simplest of circuits to floating runways that twist and turn through the sky, you will continuously be lost for words at the creativeness of each track. At the same time, you will be kept on your toes as turns change in tightness, the width of the track can change at a moments notice, hazards litter the surface of the track and items are placed throughout. This might sound like each track is flooded with visual noise but it actually becomes easy to manage it all once you complete a few laps and learn the pattern. Knowing where shortcuts and power ups are will give you that advantage you need but without the skill to tackle the turns you risk losing everything.
The powerup system works by having players pick up one of four different coloured fruits. These fill up the bars on the matching part of your ‘juicer’ which, when full, can be used to unleash a defensive or offensive move. The interesting part of this is that by using the face buttons on the controller you are able to turn on and off the four different parts, building combinations of each to create new power ups. Should you fill all four then you can unleash your character’s special move, which is sure to give you the edge in a race.
Speaking of combinations, the game does offer plenty in the range of customisation options for your kart. From the shape and colour of the body to the finish on the tyres, you can even change the sound the horn makes. Though this is a small detail, it helps to give character to the player beyond just the racers who are each designed with their own look and feel. All-Star Fruit Racing has strong art direction and visual presentation throughout the whole experience. Sure, the UI could do with some improvements and the sound effects can overlap, but the look and feel of the game is on point. Once more, it runs at a solid frame rate and not once was I the victim of slow down or any crashes.
Not all is well though as more often than not you will find yourself behind in a race and unable to get any movement on the leader. Likewise, when in the lead it is common to find yourself with no challenge as you enjoy your quiet drive around the track. This is something you will see less of when playing with other people, be it online or in offline splitscreen, but against the AI you can expect to see a range of behaviour regardless of the difficulty level. Additionally, the game does have issues with some of its collisions that can put you off course more than you would expect. That said, in its current state the game does hold up well and is playable, which is all I ask from an early access game.
So where does All-Star Fruit Racing stand? In its current early access state you can expect to find plenty of content and enjoyment that will keep you and your friends busy for many hours. Though the online is a problem at the minute with it being hard to find servers, this is sure to improve over time. If you are looking for a fun kart racing game on PC that is full of character you cannot go wrong with All-Star Fruit Racing. The developers continue to improve the title and I cannot wait to see where they take it before and after the full release. Keep your eyes on this one.