Been here before
A lot of people will probably disagree with me, but having played both Konami Krazy Racers and Super Mario Kart Advance at ECTS last year, I can honestly say that I thought Mario had the edge, in terms of sheer playability and heritage. That's not me trying to take something away from Krazy Racers, it's an opinion, and I also believe that I would be giving Krazy Racers a lower score if Nintendo hadn't delayed their showpiece racing extravaganza until Christmas. Still, in its own right Krazy Racers is a very good game. It pushes all the right buttons and uses a mostly familiar line up of Konami's stars. Amongst those eight names are Goemon of Mystical Ninja fame, Moai, the stone head from Gradius, Dracula from Castlevania and a host of others. The game features 16 tracks, link cable support for four players and battery backup, unlike GT Advance from THQ, which we chastised accordingly. Konami knows the score on these kart games, even if it's the first time they've bothered to do one. They've got the physics, the powerslides, even the tight track design with no room for error, and in terms of controls they've adopted the Nintendo (de facto) standard right down to the shoulder button mini-hops.
Blow by blow
Power-ups are available aplenty, and amongst these are speed boosts (mushrooms), invisibility (ghost), time bombs (new!), missiles (red and green shell variants), lightning (similar, but not quite) and the pig power-up, which turns people into, uh, pigs. You collect these power-ups by hunting for Parodius bells. These set your metre spinning and they randomly award you items. Like Mario Kart, using these power-ups is crucial to your success, and outdoing your opponents pretty much relies on this. The track design is pretty fidgety, and avoiding obstacles often throws you off the pace enough that a little extra is required. Graphically everything looks nice and cartoony, with a Mario Kart super-deformed style of character design. It's tremendous fun for a single player and even more for two to four. The issue with multiplayer though is that beyond two players, it's not officially supported. Weird that may sound, but nevertheless it's true. With two players, link cable play is faultless and very enjoyable. Introduce third and fourth players (which if you read the manual you won't believe possible), and things are a bit slower and the game has a tendency to lock up or exhibit bugs. It's peculiar to see this sort of thing in a console game. Still, the multiplayer modes themselves are excellent fun, with race and battle modes. Race mode is obvious, but battle mode (despite its name) does not follow the convention of mimicking Mario Kart. It's more like hot potato. You have to ram into the other players to pass them a bomb, and the player with the bomb when it explodes is the loser. There's also a weird one where you play chicken by trying to get as close as possible to a cliff's edge. Peculiar, I thought, but still fun. Unlike Mario Kart, you can play these battle and chicken modes against the computer, but they aren't half as much fun like that as you might expect.
Konami Krazy Racers is a tremendous game to sit down with on the tube, or play while perched on the couch suffering in the gap between your two favourite TV programs. It's debatable as to whether or not Mario Kart will do much to usurp it; they are virtually the same, but at least in the mean time you have no real excuse for denying yourself this game. If you can afford it, buy it. Otherwise, make do with what you've got and wait for Mario Kart.