All-Star Fruit Racing Review – Juiced Up (PS4)
Kart racers are still as popular as when they were first introduced. Few actually prove their merit and become staples for the genre—hitting the heights of say a Crash Team Racing or a Mario Kart. Even Sonic has gone onto have roaring success, while others have dwindled at the starting line. Containing something to stand out from the crowd, whilst perfecting the control scheme and frantic nature of that last-gasp win is a rare combination to achieve. That’s what All-Star Fruit Racing hopes to achieve with its peachy take on the bracket.
One of Your Five a Day
In this fruit-filled world, contenders must compete for their five a day whereas the losers must survive on greasy fats until they suffer and melt from their bad food choices. Okay, that’s not exactly true. The backstory of All-Star Fruit racing is never revealed—and to be fair is never necessary—but the colorful personalities brimming from each driver is begging for further clarification. The idea of giving each fruit their own identity and transferring that into the form of each racer is a clever idea, if not a little half-baked. The iconography for every driver is well versed and represented by a different fruit, with their personality and clothes coming across in similar vein. So, for example, we have the sporty “Cora” whose attire is reflected by coconuts i.e. coconut knee pads. Little touches like these, help to make each character feel that bit more special. It’s just a shame the concept is never fully realized and many of the female-centric characters could be consider lackluster and generic.
Racing itself is set at a quick pace but nothing crazy like F-Zero. What is quite distinct is how dependent drifting and your fruit usage is during a race. Items in the form of fruits will be laid out on the track, which the player can collect and use as either a boost, projectile or trap. Very standard scripting for kart racers. The difference with ASFR is that your setup surrounds 4 main fruits; watermelon, cherry, grape, and kiwi. When enough of these fruits have been collected, your engine will essentially blend the healthy products together to make a mighty concoction (dependent on which fruit you collected more of), before unleashing said power on enemies. It’s a neat idea that actually requires thought when speeding up to a row of the fruits to pick up as opposed to driving aimlessly.
Unleash The Power of Fruit
Even if ASFR has the skeleton of Mario Kart clone, its controls are anything but. Using R2 to accelerate and L2 to brake are not the normal stance, yet despite the control scheme not being conventional, adapting to its style is reasonably simple, thanks to a helpful tutorial. Once the schematics have been relayed, you will be entering your first championship within minutes.
One huge compliment to bestow upon the racer is the amount of customization available for every vehicle. Body mask, wheels, rims, front mask, aerial and horn sounds are all interchangeable; helping to make your kart feel that little bit more personal. Color schemes for all exterior models can be changed too. The only downside being that there is only one given slot at any moment to save your vehicle. So, if you were thinking of having multiple designs at once, you simply don’t have the option.
When offline, there are a number of choices for single player content, from career mode to time attack to custom tournaments. Each is fairly standard with their own take on what you would expect from a kart racer. Career Mode has bulk to it, but not for the right reasons. Essentially championship mode has you compete for top spot, the execution is fine and meeting what is needed, just some zest would be nice to change things up. The other gripe is the random number of laps given to tracks. Sometimes as many as five laps can be given for a race and because of this fatigue will often seep in.
From strawberry hills to pineapple canyons, variety is most definitely the spice of life. Thankfully with 21 courses to choose from (all themed around one of the four seasons), ASFR offers plenty and creates some compelling speedways. All courses try to add some variation on your typical earth, ice, sun, or water variant. One level that stood out in particular was the Shanghai-inspired “Lychee Loto.” Utilizing the city’s aesthetics, we can see strawberry monastery’s scattered around the track besides other cultural decorations. Another terrific inclusion is “Dino Juice,” which clearly is inspired from the Jurassic Park franchise, with traits like the famous gate used near the starting line, along with numerous fruit dinosaurs encountered on the turbulent trek through the jungle. More wacky levels like this would have excelled the whole experience, but alas, they’re few and far between.
At the time of this review, online servers are not accessible (available after launch) and therefore unable to be commented on. Split-screen, on the other hand, works very well with no real issues of concern and available up to four players. Loading throughout did feel a bit tenuous – especially in multiplayer – though the inclusion of fruit-based facts will keep players amused while drivers prepare their vehicles. As with loading taking a little too long, rendering tracks whilst powering around corners or over ramps also did not bode too well. On a number of occasions, surroundings would not be fully-realized until the last second and consequently frame rate would suffer as it jumped back into life.
Polar opposite to the joy-filled courses are the dreary music beats. These are not only overshadowed by character and item noises, but are also not given any traditional vibes to match that of tracks they represent. When music finally does come to light, the tunes are wearisome due to their simplistic jingles and uninspiring choruses. No tune truly invigorates and consequently a championship race could give off the impression of a casual track day. The thrill of overtaking another drive or being knocked back to last place by a misjudged bend or sneaky weapon are never amplified by what the music has to offer.
If positioned as a PSN downloadable title, All-Star Fruit Racing may have been considered a great budget offering, however launching the game at full retail release brings with it higher expectations. Where some of them are met with easy to grasp controls, plenty of customization and the odd thrilling circuit, there are a number of minor faults that sour the overall package. Uninspired music jams, slow loading and rendering of tracks can all become tiresome, taking away from what generally is a wonderful world filled with color. Who knew the price of fruit had risen so high?
All-Star Fruit Racing review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please see our Review Policy.