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GBA

North America

Konami Krazy Racers

by Jonathan Metts - July 8, 2001, 6:33 pm PDT

9

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.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
10 9 9 8 8 9
Graphics
10

Advanced Mode-7 engine, wild camera tricks for replays, bright and colorful tracks, detailed character sprites with great animation...anyway you put it, KKR is practically flawless in this category.

Sound
9

“I don’t need you!!!” The theme song will have you singing its inane lyrics out loud, for better or worse. Other music tracks are lively and addictive, while the characters spit out non-annoying voice samples that’ll have you rolling. Average-to-good sound effects round off the package.

Control
9

The highly responsive control is exactly the same as what you’ll be using in Mario Kart: Super Circuit. My only gripe is that power-sliding is never fully explained, and it doesn’t always seem to work...but since you don’t really need it to win, ce n’est pas d’importance.

Gameplay
8

Unoriginal, but brilliantly executed. The track designs are fantastic, even though the weapons are pretty boring. The AI can be downright evil on Hard, while new players can cruise through and see all the tracks with the Easy setting. The license tests force you to master the racing mechanics before you can progress further, but some players might get stuck on them. Multiplayer is included and probably rocks...if you can get other people to buy this somewhat oddball game.

Lastability
8

Sixteen tracks, nine license tests, four secret characters, multiplayer modes, and a couple neat (but inconsequential) mini-games mean that you’ll be playing KKR for a while. Earning the S-Class license and beating every cup on Hard mode will provide you with hours of additional challenge, although neither achievement unlocks new features (unfortunately). I desperately wish I had friends cool enough to buy a GBA, much less this game, for multiplayer bouts. ~sigh~

Final
9

Maybe Konami Krazy Racers doesn’t sound very innovative or fresh on paper, but five minutes with the game will have you hooked. If you love wacky Japanese games, or if you’re just a kart-racing demon on wheels, you can’t go wrong with this title. Mario Kart “Advance” may have a few months of extra development to lean on, but the gauntlet has already been thrown.

Summary

Pros
  • 100% WACKY style and sense of humor
  • A couple of the secret characters will be quite familiar to Westerners...
  • Innovative track themes and designs
  • Multiplayer races and battle modes for up to four people (despite what the instruction manual says)
  • Solid, familiar gameplay that will immediately appeal to Mario Kart fans
  • Very impressive Mode-7 visuals
Cons
  • Convincing three other people that you’re not demented for buying this game and that they should also buy it so you can have multiplayer battles
  • License tests may be exceedingly difficult for some players
  • Some mundane weapons mixed in with the cool ones
  • Spending hours to get an S-Class license and not unlocking anything with it!
  • Under its skin, KKR isn’t a big leap from Mario Kart’s old gameplay
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Racing
Developer Konami
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Konami Krazy Racers
Release Jun 10, 2001
PublisherKonami
RatingEveryone
jpn: Konami Wai Wai Racing Advance
Release Mar 21, 2001
PublisherKonami
eu: Konami Krazy Racers
Release Jun 15, 2001
PublisherKonami

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