Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you a serious contender for 2014 Game of the Year. Just kidding, this game is shit. I know I shouldn't be surprised; licensed games - especially modern ones - are usually total rubbish, especially when they're aimed at a younger audience. Especially especially when that younger audience is female because I guess girls can't appreciate a good game like boys can? Patriarchal bullshit aside, I was legitimately disappointed. Not like "Wow, this is a bad game," but "Wow, this is a really bad game and I actually thought it would be decently entertaining."
I'm a fan of Hello Kitty. Not a huge fan - I don't have any Hello Kitty shit - but I think she's a cute character, and I like her. I also like uncommon and rare games, and knowing that this was a game printed in low numbers on an unpopular console, I know this is going to be a rare game in the future, so I picked it up before prices got out of control. Sure, that was the main reason that I ordered this last week, but I also really did think it would just be your typical Mario Kart clone (complete with shitty Rainbow Road rip-off). Oh, how wrong I was.
My buddy Jordan mentioned this in a thread on the Racketboy forums after I said I had ordered the game, and I can't help but agree with him - the game plays soooo slowly. Like, I'll compare it to Mario Kart. Mario Kart's difficulties are listed by speed - 50 cc is slow/easy, 100 cc is normal, and 150 cc is fast/hard. And on Mario Kart 8, 200 cc is plaid/you're-going-to-lose. Well, Hello Kitty Kruisers would stack up around 15 cc with no difficulty settings in sight. It's just....you might as well be racing on tortoises.
It plays like Diddy Kong's Racing less successful little sister (and looks like it, too; Jordan was right about this looking like a 5th gen game); some races are done in karts, some are done in boats, and some are done in planes. Anyway, as for game modes, there are three - Quick Race, Tournament, and Adventure. I started with Tournament since it seemed the most straightforward and would unlock characters and stuff. There are four tournaments, and you unlock each one by beating the previous tournament. Each tournament has four races. At no point after the first 10 seconds of each race was I ever out of first place for all sixteen races. The AI in this game would make President Bush (the second one) look like a Rhodes Scholar. I saw racers driving the wrong way. I saw racers driving in circles. I saw racers driving straight into walls and just staying there, wheels spinning. During one race, I lapped every single opponent twice because they decided to have a giant clusterfuck of driving into the same rock wall all at once.
If you haven't gathered yet, this game is laughably easy. I can't imagine four year olds having any difficulty with this game. Any difficulty to be had here is not due to level design - that's literally more uninspired than any game I've ever played - or even to cheap AI but to floaty controls. The planes control fine. The cars control okay - a little slippery, but not bad. The boats, though. Jesus fucking Christ, the boats are the floatiest fucking shit in the whole world. You try to turn in the boat. You're facing the direction you want to go. Your boat says "NOPE" and keeps fucking traveling in whatever the fuck direction it feels like. Normally this isn't a huge problem because the AI is so god damn useless. Enter the "Adventure" mode.
Adventure mode is really just 20 "challenge" levels, and THOSE are just the same four things repeated five times - collect every cupcake in the time limit, drive through every gate in the time limit, complete one lap in the time limit, and collect 99 apples in the time limit. I beat 19 of these 20 levels in one attempt. The third to last one, though....fucking collecting the cupcakes in the god damn FLOATY ASS BOAT. That one took me legit like a dozen tries. It's not that the GAME is hard. It's not that it's a cleverly designed level. It's that the boat is fucking broken if ANY semblance of control or precision is called for.
You have a minute to collect 12 cupcakes in this level with a moderately twisty river course. Well, I say river, but it was more of a lackadaisical creek. Anyway, the first four cupcakes are in two pairs, side by side. I first tried getting one, turning around, and getting the other one before continuing, clearly overestimating the ability of my motorboat to do anything I told it to. That failed spectacularly. I then though "The course isn't that long; I could probably grab one as I go by and then just pick up the other two after finishing a lap in the last few seconds." Indeed, that is what you are supposed to do, and that would have been as easy as any other stage if it weren't for a couple of problems. Problem A - the aforementioned fact that the boat is impossible to steer. Problem B - the hit detection is ridiculous; sometimes you can miss an object entirely and hit it, and sometimes you go straight through it and the game won't register that you've hit it. This is rather problematic when your stages is "collect soggy ass cupcakes." Problem C - the banks of this creek have the gravitational pull of small stars. God forbid you brush up against one pixel of the bank; that fucker is going to have your boat in a death grip that it takes you a good three or four seconds to break out of. When the creek is just a series of 90 degree angles, that makes this tough.
The racers are all identical in terms of performance, and while there does seem to be some real performance difference between the various karts/boats/planes, no where is there a stat screen, so who fucking knows what's better than what in what area. It's a total crapshoot. This is most noticeable with the boats - the motorboats feel faster but are literally impossible to steer with ANY precision whereas the hoverboats are slower but if you try REALLY hard and sacrifice a virgin to an eldritch god, you can actually steer it. Sort of.
This game is garbage. Unless you're going for a full Wii U set or particularly like collecting low print Wii U games (like me), don't bother with this game. Don't even waste your time emulating it or downloading the $10 digital version. It's just rubbish. Are you or your kids fans of Hello Kitty? I don't care; still avoid this game. It will just hurt you on the inside. I beat and unlocked everything - all 16 tournament races and all 20 adventure courses - in an hour and a half. And I still feel like I wasted an hour and a half of my life.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.