Jonny reviews one of the wackiest and most visually impressive GBA launch games. How does it fare after two weeks of ownership? Only two ways to find out...and this one’s free. Hey, read the second page, and you’ll get twelve months same as cash!
I can’t believe that Konami released this game in North America, but I sure am glad they did. For kart-racing fans who are mulling away the days until Mario Kart: Super Circuit comes out this fall, Konami Krazy Racers is a godsend, and beyond that, might even change their minds about the Mario Kart series and what it has done (and hasn’t done!) for the racing genre.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: in terms of game design and play control, KKR is a complete and utter rip-off of the Mario Kart series. The only real difference is the license tests, which are just a rip-off from Gran Turismo. Now then, with all that in mind, it is stunning to see how vastly different KKR is from any Mario Kart game before it. The brilliant minds at Konami have taken the strict game design from Nintendo and done everything imaginable within those parameters to set this game apart...way apart. What you end up with is gameplay immediately familiar to millions of gamers, but a game itself that is terribly original and creative with its use of style, humor, track design, character selection, and more. It’s like comparing Super Mario 64 to Banjo-Kazooie...sure they play the same in many aspects, but everything else is so drastically distant that they come off as very, very different pieces of software overall. And, just like Banjo-Kazooie, KKR dares to improve on many classic elements of the game it resembles, so that in some ways it is truly superior to its base material.
The most notable example: track design. KKR proves that even in the drug-induced Mushroom Kingdom, locale-based tracks aren’t just interesting by default. One problem with Mario Kart that I’m just now aware of is that almost all the characters are from the same game series. (Donkey Kong is arguable...) In Konami’s game, no two regular characters are from the same series. Since tracks are inevitably based on the selectable characters, you end up with a much better variety of environments. Sure, Dracula’s “Magma Castle” is a Bowser rip-off, but you can’t argue with the baseball diamond complete with balls landing all over the track, or with the sky stages filled with clouds and ridiculous jumps. You even take a spin through a computer’s insides, and, in my favorite track, scoot around a translucent track suspended over the moon. The only problem with any of the tracks is that there are a few jumps that you can’t make if you’re going too fast...what’s up with that?
Of course, weapons are also a big part of kart-racing, and KKR does a pretty good job with them. The special weapon is a neat idea, and it’s fun to see what each character will get with it. The infamous pig spell is also cool, but otherwise the weapons are average at best. The time-bomb seems redundant next to the hole-digger, and the practically useless invisibility item is far too common. Your meat-and-potatoes will be the straight and homing missiles, which aren’t exactly an inspired addition to the weapons roster.
If it’s snazzy graphics you want, KKR has them like crazy. You won’t find any polygons in this cartridge, but for fans of Mode-7, this is your game. During gameplay, you can see unbelievably far into the distance, and the replays, with their zooming and panning and drive-by camera tricks, are quite unparalleled. Each racer has lots of animation frames, and they’re very detailed for such a small screen. Also, if you’ve been having trouble with dark GBA games, you’ll be thrilled to know that KKR is one of the brightest and most colorful titles I’ve seen on the system. The music doesn’t disappoint either, with all kinds of remixes from Konami games you’ve never played and some hilarious sound effects and voice samples. I won’t even mention the theme song...
Should you buy KKR? If you love kart-racing games, dear God yes. If Mario Kart is too silly for your tastes, stay far far away from this, as it’s twice as insane. Konami Krazy Racers has a very Japanese feel to it that will appeal especially to anime fans and the like. Really, if you’re into bizarre Japanese niche stuff, it doesn’t get better thank KKR...you even get a little bit of Engrish! Those of you waiting for Mario Kart on GBA, I implore you: give Konami’s game a try. It just might blow you away.