Virgin Interactive's Manic Karts is yet another entry into the already crowded go-cart racing genre. A sequel to the moderately successful Super Karts, released by GT Interactive, Manic Karts attempts to breathe new life into a tired concept. Touting many new features and improved graphics, the box would have us believe the game offers a state-of-the-art gaming experience - sadly, however, this is not the case.
Even in 1994, when Super Karts was originally released, the game engine did not represent the pinnacle of software engineering. Limited to a perfectly flat driving surface and 90-degree corners, the tracks in Super Karts more closely resembled rooms in Wolfenstein 3D than outdoor rally courses. Back then, this could be easily dismissed given that the typical computer was a 33 MHz 486, and the selection of quality racing titles was sparse at best. While the world of PC gaming has matured greatly in the intervening years, Super Karts has not. More specifically, the underlying game engine remains fundamentally unchanged in this sequel.
Manic Karts is limited to the same planar floor surfaces and simple rectagonal track structures as its predecessor. In a genre populated by complex polygon worlds (such as those found in Screamer and Formula 1 Grand Prix 2), it is inconceivable for a company to release a title with such an outdated rendering system as anything other than shareware. On a more positive note, the simple rendering engine does provide for lightning-fast redraw rates on Pentiums.
As far as the gameplay itself, Manic Karts is neither exciting nor inspired. It is an average arcade-style racer that rarely strays from the tried and true formula found in countless other games of this type. Would-be karters can choose to race any of the 16 tracks individually, or compete in a championship season. If you choose the latter, how you finish doesn't only determine championship points, but also earns cash that can be used to upgrade your kart for the next race. Perhaps the game's most original feature is the option of bribing officials to add points to players' tally. Unfortunately, even this form of regulated cheating won't hold racers' interest for long.
In conclusion, Manic Karts is best described as "been there, done that." While some may enjoy its simple and straightforward gameplay, most people demand more for their gaming dollar. Those looking for a quality arcade racer should try Virgin's own Screamer or EA's Need for Speed instead.
Hearken back to the days of your adolescence. Do you remember Jimmy, the kid whose dad was the handy guy with motors and such? Well, Jimmy was inevitably the one kid in the neighborhood who had a go-kart. The one kid every other kid wanted to visit so they could go over and race around on that cool go-kart. Remember back to when it was your turn to ride the screamin' demon? Invariably the go-kart would never work, and you would spend your day as Nurse Hathaway handing crescent wrenches to Jimmy's dad. Jimmy's dad wouldn't get the kart working for the rest of that day, but boy, how he could slug down those Pabst Blue Ribbons. You also got to learn some new words that you wouldn't dare use near your mom. Manic Karts is that experience come to life on the computer.
After loading of the game, you are treated to a sub-mediocre day at the track. In the best of worlds, you are to make haste and blow away your international competitors on the Karting circuit -- that is, if you don't come to your senses and play another game that at least borders on fun. You can compete in a single race, easy season, hard season or Championship Cup. If you must, you select your kart with its specific preset color/number scheme and off you go. Although I can't imagine that it would have been too hard to program it so that you could separately choose your color and your number. Just a thought.
The game is rough handling epitomized; this kart definitely needs a steering overhaul. The camera angles may be switched to different views, but I could not find one I was comfortable with. I played this game on a game pad. I get the feeling that a joystick is the way to go, but I wasn't going to buy one just to play this game. Once I had saved my season with my specified calibrations and settings for user controls, I figured I was set to complete my kart season -- when much to my compounding dismay, the user control settings were not saved in my season. So I started back onto the circuit with no steering or acceleration, which are quite helpful when trying to navigate New York's streets against Lupe from Brazil. I could not exit and therefore sat there until the other karts finished their race and I stumbled home with an embarrassing last place. Needless to say, I soon gave up and spent my time doing other things.
The graphics were disappointing and rather pedestrian. Not much else to say, other than this is no Mario Kart.
This game is not good, especially when you have other games out there like Nintendo 64's Mario Kart.
Manic Karts is the follow-up to Manic Media's hit game SuperKarts. Different from all-new tracks, improved graphics & sound and familiar gameplay of SuperKarts, probably the biggest offer Manic Karts has is the SVGA resolution along the choice of four classes of kart (you can race in 50cc up to 250).
All you have to do in this karting sim is to overtake your competitors using your power-ups and skill and as always make sure that they are behind you...
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