Jungle Kartz is the latest game to come from the folks over at Nordic games, the people behind the party titles such as We Dance & We Sing. They have tried their hands, this time, at cartoon racing for the Nintendo Wii. Moving into such a territory may seem ludicrous, some may even say suicidal, but Jungle Kartz is a game that is up for the challenge of gaining some of the pie Mario and company have been hogging for quite some time. As the name implies, the aim is to race karts through the jungle or indeed a number of other environments in order to be crowned king or queen of, well, the jungle and other such environments.
To do so, there are eight animals to choose from, ranging from gorillas, tigers and some kind of weird furry creature that was flirting in a provocative fashion when selected. A strange experience to say the least, but no judgement will be made as it must have been an attempt to pull unsuspecting fathers away from other duties. As with most driving games there are a variety of vehicles to choose from and depending on the racing style of the players, they range from light with a great acceleration to heavy with a better top speed.
Thirty-six courses to navigate means that there is again enough to keep the children entertained. Covering deep forests, to desert tracks all of the courses are straight forward and unfortunately lack imaginative design. Each course is roughly the same a circuit that sometimes go left, sometimes go right and may have a few bumps along the way. There is no real character or charm that is applied to any of the courses, they are instantly forgettable.
Graphically the courses and the animal racers that inhabit the world look like an old 1990’s PlayStation racer, except with less colour and was crafted in the dark. In this day and age there is no excuse for laziness and even a small amount of detail could have been added to spruce things up. Instead what could only be assumed to be a mountain cliff is a formation of chunky grey blocks that look hideous to the eye.
Sadly the AI experience isn’t much better. One of two things happen during a race: either the AI gang up on any of the human racers and they streak a head or the humans win by miles. There is no middle ground. Jungle Kartz is not very well balanced and may seem to the player that 4 or 5 places could be lost in one lap. It feels like in one moment racing against a granny in a motorised scooter and in the next, her having a rocket attached to it and sticking two fingers up as she flies by.
One major redeeming feature of Jungle Kartz does come from the utterly amazing and quality blow up racing kart that is included. Blowing this bad boy up and sitting in it makes anyone look so cool and stupid all at the same time. Obviously this is meant for kids but even the age limit on the packaging means anyone from the ages of 3-70 can play in it!
However the wheel stand that is plugged into the kart can be forgotten when playing this game. Jungle Kartz has two control systems either the Wii Wheel set up or more traditional Wii Remote and Nunchuck style. It does not matter which style is chosen as both either don’t turn the kart enough or violently throw the player into the wall.
As Jungle Kartz is aimed at the children and family side of racing games, but with such a huge brand that Nintendo have created this game has nothing that has ever been done before. Even the inflatable car, although it is really something. Using the letter Z for a replacement for S is something that peaked in popularity in the mid nineties if ever at all. Even in the Nineties this game would have struggled. Sadly, Jungle Kartz will be confined to the nothingness of video game clones. However it should leave the blow up car. Seriously.