Konami Krazy Racers
Developer: KCEK | Publisher: Konami | Release Date: 2001 | Genre: Racing | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon
Ever since Mario Kart came out on the SNES there has been no shortage of Kart Racing games starring company mascots and other cuddly characters. The bad news seems to be that these exact same titles get ported over to the Gameboy Advance with only some minor changes and touch-ups. Even Nintendo seems content with merely rehashing their old titles instead of making true sequels. Fortunately the same can’t be said about Krazy Racers from Konami.
Although not substantially different from your usual cartoony Kart Racer Konami does have a strong lineup of characters and some cool tracks. You start out with 8 characters to choose from including the Ninja from Metal Gear Solid, Dracula from Castlevania and the Octopus from Parodius. There are also four hidden characters to find like the spaceship from Gradius. There are four tournaments to take part in, each with four tracks, making for a whopping 16 tracks to choose from. Of course not all are selectable from the start and you’ll have to complete a few “license tests” to prove your skills. Don’t worry though this isn’t Grand Turismo and the tests usually involve beating someone in a one-on-one race or completing three laps under a certain time limit. Once you’ve completed all the tournaments there’s even trickier tests to undertake like finishing 3 laps in under a minute while racing in the opposite direction as the rest of the racers.
Besides the tests and tournaments you can try the tracks on a Time Attack, or Free Run mode, or just take someone on in a Vs Battle. A cool feature is the mini battles where you can play little sub-games like Bomb Chase (Tag with a bomb basically) and Chicken (straight track, winner stops closes to the edge.) These can also be played against a human opponent via the link cable. It’s a pity that you can’t unlock some more of these modes though. Krazy Racers also has a shop where instead of upgrading your car you can buy some of the weapons and power-ups normally found during a race. These cost coins which can be picked up during races as well.
Graphically Krazy Racers is quite good and in true Kart Racing tradition all the characters look super deformed. Konami fans should enjoy taking their favorite Konami characters for a spin and Konami scores major bonus points for the inclusion of the Ninja. Tracks look pretty cool as well and each one will remind you of a Konami classic. Whether racing through spooky lava filled tracks teeming with bats and Dracula’s castle in the background or speeding along the star fields of Parodius there can be little doubt that this is a Konami title. Small touches like reflecting surfaces show off the power of the Gameboy Advance and the game is also quite speedy despite the ton of onscreen action. Power-ups are contained in the familiar Twinbee bells scattered around the track and come in blue and pink variety. Blue gives you a temporary speed increase while the pink powers can be anything from a bomb, missile, and blocks of ice or shield to invisibility and lightning bolts. Be careful though, as enemies won’t hesitate in using any of these on you once they get their hands on them.
The controls can seem tricky at first, but with a little patience and some perseverance you’ll soon master it. The trigger buttons are used to activate your current power-up and jump while A and B takes care of accelerating and braking. Holding down Select also allows you to take a peek at what’s going on behind you. Since most tracks are very twisting and turning with huge jumps you’ll need to train a bit before taking on the other racers. Power-ups that turn everyone into little pigs or zap them with electricity can turn the tide of the race in an instant and there are also loads of gaps to fall down if you aren’t careful.
Konami is known for their awesome soundtracks and Krazy Racers is no exception. Most of the tunes are new renditions or remixes of past classics, so get ready to race to the sound of Metal Gear Solid or Castlevania. Sound effects are also nicely done and your fellow racers are quite a vocal lot on track. Nothing is more annoying than being blasted by Dracula and then hearing him laugh as he speeds off into the distance.
Great as this game is it narrowly misses out on being a classic due to some minor annoyances. Experienced players will have no problem completing the limited selection of tournaments and races in one day and even the four hidden characters don’t take much effort to find. The mini-battles are cool, but also won’t keep you occupied for long. The multi-player modes saves the day and this is probably where you’ll be wasting the most time if you’ve got a few friends with Gameboy Advances.
Based solely on the single player modes Krazy Racers might not have enough to keep you playing for long, although you will find yourself coming back for just one more race time after time. Multi-player will keep you and your friends playing for ages though. The bottom line is although nothing revolutionary Krazy Racers is still entertaining enough to make it worth your while. Definitely not just for Konami fans.
*Review originally published September 2011