Ever since Nintendo released Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo, oh so many years ago, companies have tried to copy that specific formula for success with varying results. Sega is one such company that has tried to take their existing stable of characters and create kart racing games with them as the stars (Sonic R on Saturn and more recently two of the games on this list). Even Sony got in on the action with Crash Team Racing on the original Playstation, even the WWE has a kart racing game out (on Playstation 2). This is one of those genres that is pretty much dominated by one or two companies (Nintendo usually doesn’t have all that much to worry about). We feel that the key to success in this genre is the characters, hence this list.
Without compelling characters that the gamer feels attached usually leads to poor sales. As with most games, the characters are key but with kart racers they are very much more important than ever before, second only to good controls.
Garfield Kart is one of those “what the hell” character kart racers (though not as much as the WWE one but that is a different list altogether). For a cat that spent his whole life, as far as readers/viewers were privy to experience, trying to stay inactive as possible, this cat sure gets around. The draw here is the Garfield universe of characters, starting with the orange cat himself. Odie is here, so is John and five other characters ready for multiplayer and single player racing no matter what device your friends are on.
Why is Garfield Kart a weird choice? Come on, read the comics, watch the cartoons. Garfield is not an action kitty and I don’t see a bed on wheels here for him.
Pac-Man Kart Rally is right up there with the Sonic games on this list, why? At least in the case of Sonic, Sega can argue speed is a common theme but what can Namco use as their excuse for shoe horning the Pac-Man universe into a kart racer? For one, this should probably be called Namco Kart Rally since there are a lot more characters than just those from Pac-Man (otherwise it would be what, five or six racers?). We have the prince from Katamari Damacy and the Galaga ship to name a couple that fall outside of Pac-Mans realm.
Why is Pac-Man Kart Rally a weird choice? The whole Pac-Man universe is about running through mazes avoiding ghosts that apparently can’t go through walls. Why are there karts? Where are the mazes?
Sonic Racing Transformed is a continuation, of sorts, of Sonic R on the Sega Saturn. Purists will wonder why Sonic has to drive a car, I mean, he is already fast. Like Spy Hunter in the arcades of yesteryear, the tracks change as you go and effect the type of vehicle that you will use (plane, boat, car). Like the other Sega cart racer on this list, there are quite a few iconic Sega characters to take to the tracks with.
Reader Rabbit Kart Racing of all things has players racing with edutainment characters. Yes, those games that probably most of those reading this never play, the ones that teach math, reading and the like that parents and teachers push on us when we are young.
Why is Reader Rabbit Kart Racing weird? Come on, just read the title and think about it.
Turbo Fast is based on the movie, Turbo, that starred the snail that apparently had greased lightening secretions. Definitely one that the kids can enjoy without much trouble or worry on the part of the parents. Turbo Fast (renamed for the Netflix TV show) used to be named Turbo Racing League.
Why is Turbo Fast weird? Snails going fast, powersliding and with spoilers on their backs. What else needs to be said?
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing is the second kart racing game from Sega on this list. The difference between All-Stars and Transformed is that All-Stars is more involved with achievements, goals, Cups and more. There are also more Sega characters (13 versus 10 in Transformed).
Why is Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing weird? This is probably as close to Super Mario Kart as you are going to get if you are a Sega die-hard fan, but again, why does Sonic have a kart? Dude RUNS for a living!