After starting All-Star Fruit Racing and the music started kicking in, I looked into this colourful fruity world and smiled. This actually looks like fun. The video intro shows off a lot of what the game is about. All-Star Fruit Racing looks like a skittles racing game on steroids. With the game loading into the main menu, you offered to jump straight into the tutorial and as they were offering, who could say no? Just a warning, I will drop a few fruity puns in.
The tutorial gets you through all the basics. How to go forward, backwards and drift. Drifting is pretty satisfying, especially if done right. By hold the accelerator (R2) down and then holding down the break (L2), you are chucked into a drift. With the tutorial map being very much a bent oval, there was plenty of opportunities to try it out. If you successfully hold a drift in without overheating, you have an indicator to tell you when the cars are taking too much, you are then thrown into a boost mode which gives you a couple of seconds of boost. This is great when you are holding onto a position, you hit a corner on the sweet spot and then flung into a boost past the AI player in front. Soooo satisfying. While in the tutorial, you are shown how to use certain perks while driving. To obtain these fruity perks, you must collect…. well…. fruit, that is littered on the circuit. The more fruit you collect, the more powerful perk you can use and depending what character you have selected, you can obtain their top tier perk. Once you have hit all the objectives in the tutorial, you are then taken to the main menu.
Looking at the fruit salad of a main menu, you can see your character and the kart that you will be driving. Down the left-hand side, you are given a few options to choose from, which are Offline, Online and Garage (there is also settings, credits and extras). I first jumped into the garage to see what it had to offer. I was thrown into my coconut-split garage and without even competing in a single race at this point, I was given a large selection of customisations to choose from. You can start by changing the shape of the kart. This can be a slim lime kart or if you wish, you can have a chunky banana of a thing. You can change how the body looks with different patterns to choose from and this also applies to the front as well. With various types of tyres, rims and the large colour pallet that is available, you can make the fruit machine of your dreams. Once I was happy with my creation, I jumped into ‘Offline’ mode.
There are plenty of modes to choose from in offline mode, which give the game a bit of everything. We start off with a custom race, which gives you access to all five areas and all their respected circuits. Most areas are locked off until you have completed races and Grand Prix’s later in the game. The main mode is a career mode, which puts you into the fruit Grand Prix’s with the selection of stock characters. Your objective is to win cups and progress through to the bigger cups. It starts off really easy with a few tracks against lots of easy AI opponents. Once you win a cup, you unlock the next one. As time goes on, the cups become more difficult and with difficulty being measured in pistons, one being easy and three being hard, I felt hard was still at a push ok to deal with. There was nothing frustrating about being caught up to and then knocked off your stride while racing, but it makes you use all the practice you have acquired to get there in the first place, making it more of a challenge, an achievable challenge rather than a chore. I found that each cup took me around 30 minutes to take part in and complete, making it quite easy to complete all cups in a one sitting if you have the time and the skill o do so. Once completing a cup, not only do you unlock the next cup as previously mentioned, but you unlock new skins, customisations and areas. This can all be used back at the main menu.
Next up is Fast Championship and Custom Championship. These are really career mode broken down to singular cups or championships. This time you can select the difficulty, the area and the number of opponents. Its quick and easy to adjust and navigate, making a quick pick up and go mode if you don’t have a lot of time to play. After that, it is Time Attack. This mode lets you pick any track (as long as you have unlocked it), the difficulty and then releases you on to the circuit. The game has already determined what is a gold, silver and bronze times, so you just need to give it you’re all. I noticed when selecting the hardest difficulty, you really do have to have a flawless run at the circuit to achieve the top times. Last up is training. This covers everything you would have done at the start of the game if you chose to accept the games offer for a tutorial.
The circuits are very well designed. They take you through plenty of high gradients and jumps, with great corners and like mentioned above, if you can pull off a perfect drift around any corner, it feels so satisfying when you straighten up and boost away. Each zone has its own personality and the circuits come to life, with obstacles appearing on tracks in the form of barrels or snowballs, it adds the extra competitive element while dodging the other player’s perks. The audio works well with each track and when hitting the last lap, it plays a higher tempo melody to make you get over the finish line a bit quicker. The online feature wasn’t available with the review copy or the servers are not yet turned on. However, I feel this could be a great party game for a group of friends. A really nice thing to see was the amount of PSN trophies I was receiving for completing races and cups. Even using certain moves got you a trophy, however, when trying to view the trophy list, it was unavailable, which was so frustrating as I wanted to see how many were available and see the possibility of grabbing that platinum. I am sure once the game fully releases, the game will reveal all. But a heads up, there is plenty of trophies!
Nagging points now. Unlockables are difficult to find and what I mean by that is that there is no guide to tell you what to do to unlock a certain customisation or character. If you hovered over said customisation or character and it said, ‘to unlock this, you must do this’ I feel that would have been much more appealing. One would assume, you will have to go on every mode and complete everything 100% to achieve everything. Another point, when winning races, you are shown the same winning emote and podium layout. The latter is a normal process for any racing game, but the same emote of mimicking a silent violin can be a bit tedious and repetitive. Hopefully, the developer will add more when the game fully releases.
Looking at the game art of this title, the following thoughts flowed through my head. Fruit, colours and racing. This made me think instantly that the game would be ideal for my 2-year-old. But what I uncovered, turned out to be a great little racing game, fun for all members of the family, even those with no experience playing racing games. Though it doesn’t capture the Mario Kart experience, it is a very close replica with fun gameplay and very informative facts about. . . fruit! Even leaving the game on its main menu and typing out this review, my character still waves at me and nags me to get playing. I think this will stay on my hard drive.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*