All-Star Fruit Racing (3DClouds)
From Nintendo and Sony to Sega and Konami, there was a time where every developer with a semi decent roster of recognizable characters felt the need to shoehorn their mascots into a kart racing game. Some were good, some not, but the most memorable ones were usually the games featuring well-known characters. 3DClouds, an Italian indie developer doesn’t have the luxury of banking on familiar faces for their title, All-Star Fruit Racing, as it is their debut title. However, this doesn’t mean that the game isn’t worth a closer look as even though it is still an Early Access title, it already impresses.
3DClouds have chosen fruit for the theme of their game, which means fruit themed levels, a fruit themed power-up system and fruit themed characters. The tracks are spread across five vibrant and colorful islands, four of which are currently available, look amazing and feature the kind of visuals that most Early Access titles can on dream of. Each track is bursting with color and details, making them a real pleasure to race. The game also features extensive kart customization as you unlock new parts and choose different paint colors. However, while the racers all look unique, the karts all look the same. You can make your kart stand out a little bit more by altering parts and colors, but the basic design stays the same. This feels like a bit of a missed opportunity given the fruit theme as it would have been interesting to see more imaginative kart designs. The character models are very detailed and effort has been made to tie each one to a certain type of fruit, but the realistic designs feel a bit out of place compared to the lighthearted feel of the rest of the visuals. The version of the game that we played already had 11 unique characters available, with a further 11 still to be added during Early Access, so kudos to the developers for providing so many choices. We can’t help but feel that a more super deformed style would have been more appropriate for the characters to make them stand out more on the track though.
In terms of gameplay, All-Star Fruit Racing plays like a typical kart racer. This means twisting tracks, speed strips and power-ups. The most unique aspect of the game is its power-up system, which is designed around collecting fruits that litter the tracks. These fruits are split into four different varieties and collecting them fills up four separate tanks on your kart. Once a tank is filled, it can be used to activate a power-up that will hopefully give you an advantage or hamper your opponent. The twist is that you can start using a combo power-up when more than one tank is full. For example, using the juice from a single tank might reward you with a shield or speed power-up, but wait patiently for two to fill up and it could net you a shielded boost. Three tanks yield even more powerful power-ups and those patient enough to fill all four can activate the “Mega-Juice” power up of their character. While individual attacks are shared amongst the character, the Mega-Juice ones are unique and based around the fruit that they favor. This means while one character might have a banana rocket another one might unleash a chomping avocado or rolling coconut.
As we mentioned earlier, All-Star Fruit Racing is still in Early Access, but it already looks better than many full titles. The game already has plenty of content too, and the developers are promising weekly updates. Currently players can take part in custom races, a career mode, fast championship, custom championship and time attack. Although these can only be played on easy level and offline, future updates will add medium and difficult modes as well as online multi-player for up to eight players. Any good kart racer should have a split-screen mode and thankfully All-Star Fruit Racing has one in place already for up to four players. Only two of the five gameplay modes, Juicer and Random Juicer, are currently available, but Dragster, Elimination and Elimination Mix are right around the corner.
All-Star Fruit Racing is an Early Access title that is already off to a great start and has the potential to become even greater. There is obviously some polishing and improvements that need to be done before the full release, but all the basics to have fun is already in place. A lot of work has already gone into the character designs, so it is probably too late to make any major changes, which is a pity as a less realistic approach might have worked better with the theme. One thing is for sure, we’ll be keeping a close eye on All-Star Fruit Racing to see if it lives up to its potential and we suggest all fans of the genre do the same.