Kart racing games are incredibly hit-and-miss. This is true on any platform but seems especially so on mobile thanks to the monetisation of games on the platform. Trying to make money from a game isn’t inherently bad, but the way that a lot of companies go about it can often feel as though it interferes with the game itself, turning it from an entertaining pastime into something altogether more sinister and bank account draining.
You can see just how invasive these issues are when you’re playing one of the more popular franchises in kart racing, which may or may not rhyme with “Marry Yo Heart”. Even the biggest names can fall foul of the cold icy grip of capitalism, and it can often feel like mobile games aren’t designed to be fun at all, but to drain your wallet until it’s empty. Thankfully that’s not always the case though, and KartRider Rush+ is here to show everyone how it should be done.
KartRider Rush+ is a kart racer much like any other. It’s filled with chibi characters all playfully shooting each other with missiles and trying to decimate other players on the racetrack. There are also multiple modes and it is best played against other people. Plus, it’s incredibly charming and a lot of fun, making it one of the best mobile games out there.
The gameplay is nice and simple. You automatically accelerate, so you never need to worry about doing that. Instead, your main focus is on turning, drifting and using items. Not having to worry about accelerating means that the tracks can be a little bit more involved, and the action isn’t about trying to get back up to speed, but navigating each course as well as you can.
The primary skill you’ll need to master is the drifting. You hold the drift button and a direction to drift through a corner, then you have to straighten up as you come out of the turn. That’s the norm in racing games, but it gets interesting here because you generate the ability to boost by doing so. If you can boost into a drift and do it perfectly, then you might instantly refill your boost again, allowing you to continue on at rocket speed.
It’s a satisfying little loop, even if it can feel a little finicky at first to get used to. There were a few moments as I tried to get to grips with it, but once I’d mastered it, every corner felt like an opportunity to improve my standing, an obstacle to not just overcome, but a springboard to leap into a better position.
That’s just the basic driving, and that’s not all that there is with KartRider Rush+. The modes on offer really help to keep things exciting too. You’ve got Speed Race, which is your standard rally, the Item Mode, which allows you to forget about the drifting in favour of shooting each other with Water Flies and using angelic halos to protect yourself, as well as a Story Mode, among others.
The Story Mode, again, doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is a welcome time sink and a lot more relaxed than the rather tense online races. It tells a story through the medium of interpretive races, which is a bit like interpretive dancing but with more wheels and less fancy shoes and uni students. It’s just nice, and manages to feel a little nostalgic, which is perfect for a kart racer.
There’s also a Ranked Mode, which is where I’ve been spending most of my time. It’s fun because it’s multiplayer, but it’s also great because it shows off one of the things that KartRider Rush+ does best: giving you stuff.
KartRider Rush+ is free-to-play, but genuinely, not “free-to-play-for-the-first-five-minutes-then-you-need-to-invest-your-life-savings”. If you want to put some money into cosmetics, you can, but you have to race if you want to improve your kart or unlock better stuff. It’s quite refreshing, and will, I assume, still earn the developers a fair bit of money because you’re more likely to give money to a game you’re enjoying than one you’re not.
That’s not to say that some of the monetisation here isn’t bad, there are a few too many subscriptions for you to sign up to, but none of them really help you improve as a racer, so it’s more forgivable than in many other games.
I also find the announcer a little annoying, but I think that might be more to do with lack of sleep and a complete void where my energy reserves should be than anything else. They’re obscenely enthusiastic and upbeat, which I have a great respect for, but very little patience to endure. It’s almost definitely me being grumpy, but I’m just warning you in case you too are a grumpy old person.
KartRider Rush+ is the pinnacle of the kart racer genre on mobile. It’s replete with things to do, cool unlocks, and a genuine wealth of free things that it will continually shower upon you just for playing it. The gameplay is a huge amount of fun, and whether you’re playing through the competitive modes or the more chilled out ones, you’re sure to have a great time with it.
- Cute visual style
- Loads to do
- Incredibly good fun
- Free to play
- Monetisation isn’t invasive, but is needlessly confusing
- Takes forever to download