Red Bull Kart Fighter Game

Kart Fighter: Corridors of Power - High-speed originality is its specialty

Never has a title filled me with such mixed thoughts and fluctuations of emotion as did the game undergoing scrutiny today. On first impression, ‘Kart Figher: Corridors of Power’ sounded to me like an eclectic mix of Mario Cart meets Street Fighter. Of course, if such a game were to be in existence, then I’m pretty sure that the following two statements would as a result be unequivocally true: Firstly, that I would have heard about it by now and the game would immediately and forever be in my possession and secondly, the world of casual online flash gaming would never be the same again. Of course, first impressions are often misleading and I feel it important to highlight that my initial thoughts were a tad wide of the mark by quite the few nautical miles. 

Kart Fighter: Corridors of Power is in fact loosely modelled on the immersive racing simulator genre which games such as ‘Gran Turismo’ have so successfully made popular throughout the world of paid-for console gaming. Expect neither ground-breaking graphics nor pushing of the boundaries of the aforementioned genre, but prepare yourself for some very addictive, extremely accessible and tantalisingly original racing fun; of this fact, I am certain that I am on or at least near the mark to within a few eighths of a gentleman’s furlong. 

The game possesses all the usual characteristics of a flash-based racing game but, in addition, is delicately infused with a subtle blend of features that are so often indicative of the racing simulator genre. I’m referring of course to the option of ‘Career mode’ allows the player to become immersed in the familiar collection of customisation features which make games like Gran Turismo so enjoyable to play whilst ensuring the game remains consistently entertaining and rewarding over time.

As someone who is generally reluctant to warm to any game that falls under the ‘racing’ genre, I stumbled upon this game and began to play with my levels of scepticism rivaled only by the deep-seated doubt caused by the release of ‘Duke Nukem: Forever’. While my refusal to acknowledge the Duke Nukem remake as anything but insulting to the original turned out to be completely justified, I’ll hold my hands up in the air like I actually do care that I was wrong to allow my cynical predisposition to influence my judgement of Kart Fighter, a game that is being described by me as ‘almost as addictive as Kellog’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes’.

The ability to choose your own vehicle, customise virtually every one of its functional components and also to choose the individual variables of your race ensures game has a depth which similar games of its type all too often fail to possess. The opportunity for the player to improve the performance of their vehicle is itself an incentive to continue to play the game and earn the necessary number of credits in order to be able to afford the helpful and plentiful upgrades. This is the only way you can improve your performance and gain the edge against the other competitors, who are increasingly more difficult to beat as you advance through races of increasing track complexity which contain gradually more testing opponents.

The upgrades themselves are plenty in number and create an eagerness to enter even the same race repeatedly until you earn enough to purchase your next sweet fix of vehicular improvement. Entering the ‘garage’ area allows you to swap out your wheels, tyres, chassis, gears and bodywork as well as letting you fine tune your engine and make additions that result in greatly improved speed, handling, grip, acceleration and all-round performance. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the most expensive upgrade isn’t necessarily the one that will give you the advantage in your race. This realism and thoughtful gameplay initially came as a surprise to me; I could have sworn I was only playing an online flash game here.

Such is the relative realism and requirement of forethought when making your modifications that you must balance the various characteristics of your car and make them race-specific. Just because you went and bought a powerful engine that would make Jeremy Clarkson vomit on his corduroy trousers with excitement doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the advantage in a race that requires medium-balanced gears and immaculate steering control. Sometimes bigger isn’t necessarily better and expensive equipment can be more costly to your race than the money you paid for the modification in the first place. You can imagine my agonising disappointment at spending an upsetting amount of time earning the money to buy an upgrade that I both didn’t need and couldn’t control! ‘Kart Fighter’ makes you think about your purchases and adds an element of strategy and sensibility to the game.

Further to the upgrades which I have already supplied you with information about, there are a total of three classes of car which you are able to (eventually) unlock as you become more experience and earn the necessary amount of currency. Your starting car is the tame and controllable ‘club’ level vehicle. This is perfect for beginner racers, and also for tracks which require control and raw acceleration with little finesse. The ‘Super’ and ‘V8’ classes of vehicle are unavailable at first but become accessible as your progress and improve. This is partially down to the reason that the promise of improvement makes you more eager to play the game, but mainly because the ‘Super’ and ‘V8’ classes of car are extremely difficult to control and are for the more advanced driver.

 I apologise to those of you who, as a result of my failure to mention the tracks themselves, have hastily assumed that this game offers little variety in its scenery and surroundings; this assumption would be what those of us with the patience to read the review in its entirety would call a  shattering error. You are in fact able to race in a total of five different real-world locations in total, with several tracks to unlock and negotiate in each location. The United Kingdom offers us its palace, the US its capital, Palazzo in Italy, Australia allows us into the Old House and Russia apparently has a Grand Palace. But as we all know, in Russia, car drives you.

In a twist from the classic notion of racing a Formula One car on a track that is located outdoors, Kempt's ‘Kart Fighter ‘ throws this conventional logic out of the window and into the sea of controversy below since all races take place indoors.  You didn’t think you’d be racing around the roomy and more vehicle-appropriate grounds of Buckingham Palace, did you?  That would just be ridiculous. In some (and never all) seriousness, this aspect of the game simply adds to its already considerable stash of quirky features and cheerfully original premise. I simply couldn’t pry myself away until I progressed to the land of once-communist ideals and former collection of Soviet states that is now Russia.