Racing games come in two distinct flavors: down-and-dirty and fuzzy-and-warm. Atari opted for the latter with Atari Karts.
By no means is that a slam on this racing game. While Atari Karts has more than a passing resemblance to Super Mario Kart, it's just as fun to play.
The game has its share of animal and human racers--11 in all.
Each driver's race car has different speed and handling attributes.
The track rotates around during a race in the same manner as Mario Kart. Each track's layout is based on the scenery, ranging from seaside city coasts to dry steppes and mountains.
Each course is littered with power-ups and hazards that players can pick up during a race. It takes a keen eye in some cases to discern the good power-ups from the bad ones.
A player must finish fourth or better in each race to move on.
The game also has a splitscreen Racing Mode that lets players battle head-to-head.
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Iaguar owners will be pleased to know that a total of 35 titles should be available to them within the next few months, including 12 new titles and 14 new cartridge titles. A comprehensive list of recent and upcoming games would look something like this: Defender 2000, Missile Command 3D, Breakout 2000, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, Fever Pitch, Charles Barkley Basketball, Brett Hull NHL Hockey, SuperCross 3D, Attack of the Mutant Penguins, Fight for Life, Phase Zero, 1-War and Ruiner Pinball--all cartridges, as well as Formula One Racing, Highlander, Baldies, Myst and Battle Morph for the Jaguar CD. Even a Jaguar conversion of Mortal Kombat 3 should show up on the market by the end of the winter quarter.
You'll find Atari Karts amongst this virtual plethora of Jaguar entertainment. Atari didn't hesitate to make obvious the relationship between Atari Karts and the Super NES game. Super Mario Kart, a super-cute go-cart racing game featuring Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong Jr..,Yoshi, Bowser,Toad, Princess and Koopa Troopa. Atari Karts definitely doesn't have the advantage of an all-star cast like this. Anyway, you remember it, right? And if you're at all familiar with Super Mario Kart, then you've pretty much got the gist of Atari Karts. The wacky characters, the split-screen two-player mode, the Mode 7 graphics--it's all deja vu.
Atari Karts boasts 11 different characters with different driving skills and personalities, hi-res, texture-mapped backgrounds with various terrains--hills, ice, sand, and four different skill levels, as well as the two-player, split-screen option. Race around picking up various pick-me-ups that can either be bonuses that give you a boost or hazards that prove detrimental to your driving acumen. And if you're wondering why the Super Mario Kart imitation? Well, think optimistically. Atari Karts may prove to be just as fun. However, it could just as easily turn out to be terrible. Oh, it's a dreadful risk we take when we preview games. I mean, you never can tell.