a game by Manic Media Productions Ltd.
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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If you're lucky enough to have a cd-rom drive and have bought the cd-rom version of this magazine then you will probably already know how utterly brilliant SuperKarts is having played it on our exclusive demo (if you haven't, go and play it now and then finish reading this a bit later). If, on the other hand, you haven't got a cd-rom drive, your best friend who has got one has gone on holiday and hasn't asked you to water the plants or look after the cat and you can't "borrow" their machine, then Bummer!

To put it mildly it is quite the best hands-on driving game I have ever come across. Not only does it look good, but the handling is absolutely spot on thanks to a new, sophisticated games engine. Although the chaps have only been working on SuperKarts for a little over four months, they've spent a lot of time getting the handling of the car just right and it's definitely paid off. You can throw your kart into bends, power out of corners, skid through chicanes and generally do anything you can in a real kart and it actually feels as though you are doing it. The graphics are bright and smooth, and the animation is very fluid indeed. You can view or drive your kart from any angle, zoom in and out, tilt the angle of view, adjust the frame speed and steering sensitivity, set the number of laps in a race and generally set things up to be as comfortable as you like.

The shape of things to come

The game has been designed to take the best elements of arcade-style driving games, namely fast and furious action, and combine it with a management race option for lasting playability. As a result, you can either enter a single race or opt to enter the SuperKart Championships. Either way, you race against seven other drivers from around the world, and can choose which country you wish to represent. In the world championship you get to race in a total of eight different circuits in eight different countries, each with their own particular surfaces and conditions. In Russia, for example, you'll be sliding around on an ice-covered track, whilst in Oz you'll be haring round the outback, no doubt avoiding the odd roo. Players must begin the tournament with a bottom of the range 50cc kart and must finish in the top three in every race in order to progress to the next level.

During the race there are various power-ups, fuel, supergrip tyres, etc. to pick up and the better you do in each race, the more you can add to your kart in terms of fuel capacity, turbos and so on.

In the final version you will also be required to make pitstops during a race to re-fuel or to repair damage to your kart sustained during the race and you will get points for number of karts passed and lapped. There will also be bonus tracks to complete if you do particularly well where you will be able to pick up extra bonuses to boost the capacity of your kart.

Although the game works well with keyboard controls, the final version will also be joystick, joypad and even Thrustmaster compatible for a true white-knuckle experience and there will also be an eight-player network facility so you can race with your mates.

SuperKarts looks like being a sure fire winner when the final version is released ("any day now" we are assured). Although the version on show at the moment is unfinished it still looks great and plays quite brilliantly. Miss it at your peril.

Vox Pop

Super Mario Kart is the SNES' finest racing game, and if you're not familiar with its cutesy, psychedelic, cartoon graphics, bizarre short cuts and good, fast racing, then I'll enlighten you. Quite simply, Mario, his brother Luigi, Donkey Kong and other "stars" of Mario games (eight drivers in all), hack round a small circuit while firing bananas and tortoise shells at one another. The other main feature of this game is the superb two-player option, featuring split-screen action, and, of course, the chance to beat your mates. Sounds good? It is. But back to SuperKarts.

Instead of Mario Kart's cartoon-style graphics, SuperKarts' programmers have opted for quality graphics which give the game a more serious look. These graphics have the RT3D system to thank for their smooth movement. RT3D is similar to the SNES' Mode 7, which is extensively used in Mario Kart, and enables graphics to be moved fluidly in a detailed 3D environment. Despite the high detail, SuperKarts still runs quickly on a 386.

SuperKarts has been designed as a cross between Mario Kart and Formula One Grand Prix, and in both these games the best part isn't the podium finish, but beating your mates in the multi-player modes. All in all, this is a great fun game. It has all the thrills and spills of Mario Kart while retaining that PC feel about it. A benchmark for arcade driving games.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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