IGN Review of Myth Makers: Super Kart GP
So here's the concept: rather than inventing a fantasy setting and cast of characters completely from scratch, the Myth Makers franchise has drawn its inspiration from well known holiday themes instead. Its locations, style and stars all seem to come straight out of the children's books and Christmas specials of youth – there's Jack, the frosty snowman and Nick, the six-year-old version of Santa Claus. There's Zeek the Pumpkinhead and Zol the Witch, hailing from some sort of Halloween town. There's Trixie, a girl dressed up in a pink bunny costume, who calls home a pastel paradise named Easterville. It's all very festive, and it works pretty well.
The problem with Myth Makers: Super Kart GP, though, is that while the places and people are passable here, the gameplay is just plain poor. This game takes its many different holiday-themed locations and lays down racetracks within them, then sets each of the little Myth Maker characters into a kart to race for the checkered flag against each other. But the racing engine is just bad. Its poor control, wonky camera and glitchy collision detection defeat any sense of fun that the presentation might have otherwise had.
You hold the Wii Remote sideways in Super Kart GP, in the same way that you would if you were playing
Excite Truck or the upcoming
Mario Kart Wii. And, as in those games, you have to twist the controller to the left and right as if it were a steering wheel in order to get your on-screen vehicle to turn in the corresponding direction. The twisting action feels a little loose, but is fair overall. Unless you hit something.
Because if you hit something, it's pretty much over for you. Even minor collisions with an obstacle or hillside are enough to completely disrupt your momentum going forward, and you'll be helplessly forced to watch all your competitors pass you by as you attempt to recover from the crash. The recovery is nearly impossible on two levels – first, because the camera freaks out and loses track of you, and second, because the controls to back up into reverse and reset yourself don't seem to even register half the time.
Super Kart GP will have you pulling your hair out in frustration at the futility of it all as perfectly clean runs through a course devolve into 8th place finishes because of the game's untamable quirks. And the camera and controls aren't the only offenders, either – oftentimes the engine will seek to "help" you get back on track by resetting your position in the middle of the track after you run off the road. The problem with that, though, is its decisions of when and where to reset you are arbitrary and often incorrect.
If you careen off the edge of a cliff and into a pool of impassable water, that's the right time for a reset. But sometimes you'll stray just slightly off the side of a road and the game, rather than allowing you to keep your acceleration and steer back onto the street yourself, will instead act like you've just exploded and put you back at the end of the pack, at a dead stop. It's ridiculous, and it's annoying.
It's possible to have a fair bit of fun with Super Kart GP in spite of its issues, as it is a decent little Mario Kart clone in a few other respects. The power-up and items system works pretty well, allowing you to attack your rivals with weapons like Cupid's Arrows (Happy Valentine's Day, kiddos) and Jack O' Lantern bombs. And there are a good number of shortcuts to discover in each track, so races aren't always perfectly linear from start to finish.
There's also multiplayer support for up to four players at once, which splits the screen into quadrants and lets you all go head-to-head against each other. Your selection for characters, karts and tracks to use in competition will be limited to begin with, though, as almost everything is locked from the start. Only four characters are available to select right from the beginning, and you'll have to progress through each engine class and racetrack one at a time to unlock the game's full set of features piece by piece.
A bit of the plot plays into this aspect, too – each controllable character has a signature Power Move that he or she can unleash, like the character-specific item attacks in
Mario Kart: Double Dash. But you'll have to defeat the villainous Mumbra in a Time Trial test first, before you're allowed to call upon that special magic.
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