safari Kart is clearly inspired from Mario Kart, but falls a bit short and experience of a game is great
Safari Kart ($2.99) by Mobiteos is a kart racer game that is sure to appeal to the fun and silly racing game fans. If you enjoy games like Mario Kart, then you may like what Safari Kart has to offer, though things are a bit different from what you’d expect from Nintendo’s signature racing game. Think of Horizon Chase, but with karts and cute animals.
Let’s face it — Mario Kart is one of those games that you know everyone’s played at least a few times in their life, and it’s fun as heck. If you have a Nintendo Switch, then chances are pretty high that you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which you probably take with you while out-and-about for your kart racing fix. However, not everyone’s lucky enough to have a Switch, and may just have an iPhone. Fortunately, Safari Kart is a game that tries to fill that void. If you can get past the limitations and the fact that this is not Mario Kart, then it’s could be an enjoyable experience.
App Feels Like
Visually, Safari Kart looks like an older Wii or PlayStation 2 title, due to the rough and jagged edges of the 3-D rendered objects and environments. The textures of the roads are also a bit dated, compared to other iOS games that are available. In general, Safari Kart’s graphics have a bit of a low-poly aesthetic, but personally, I just find that it adds to the charm of the game — these are karts, not exotic sports car racing we’re talking about. The color palette in Safari Kart has a nice range, as it features plenty of bold and vibrant hues as well as earthy tones, depending on the environment you’re racing through. Animations are fairly smooth and fluid, with no lag or choppiness on my iPhone 7. There’s an upbeat and eccentric soundtrack to go along with each track, and the sound effects are fun. While Safari Kart certainly doesn’t beat out other games in terms of graphics, I think the end result is decent enough for what it is — a quirky kart racer.
At the moment, Safari Kart has two game modes: Cup Race and Practice. There’s three difficulty levels as well: Normal, Fast, and Super Fast, though the last two are locked until you clear Normal. I’d recommend starting with the Practice Mode first, at least to get the hang of things. But if you’ve played games like Mario Kart before, then you should already know what to expect.
In the Cup Race, players go through a series of four races on different tracks, and points are earned depending on what rank you end up in for each race. The winner of the Cup is determined by the total number of points accumulated from all of the races. There’s three Cups right now: Earth, Water, and Fire. Hopefully more get added in the future.
Controls in Safari Kart are as simple as they come. The game makes you accelerate automatically, so you just worry about steering left and right with the buttons in the bottom corners. The “!” buttons adjacent to the directional steering are the brakes. Like I said, the basic controls are pretty easy to pick up. Racers can pick up random power-ups from the purple boxes, and then activate them by tapping on the power-ups icon on the screen.
Racers can drift in Safari Kart, but it’s not too clear on how this is done. There is no tutorial that explains the controls, and the game never tells you how you drift. Unless the drifting are the tight turns that your kart makes when you hold down the directional button, then I feel like I’m missing something. Personally, when I think of drifting in a kart racer, I expect to see some kind of sparks flying from the tires to indicate a drift or boost, just like in Mario Kart, and that’s surprisingly absent here.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the physics in the game are not the best. I’ve gotten stuck numerous times and as I’m attempting to maneuver back into the race, my kart flips over as I’m trying to steer away from a wall. Other times it felt like my kart wasn’t moving at all even though my thumb was on the steering controls. The physics engine in the game is not at all realistic (unlike Mario Kart) and can end up costing you big time if you were in the lead.
There’s also no map of the track available as you’re racing, so you’ll have to practice on each track a few times before you get the layout down. The game only shows you the top four in the lead, so there’s no way of knowing who or what’s coming up behind you.
Safari Kart has decent graphics for what it is. The game also has a simple control scheme that anyone can pick up. There’s enough variety in the racers to keep you coming back, and the tracks are fun to race on. This is the closest you’re going to get to Mario Kart on iOS, so it’s acceptable.
However, there are more cons about Safari Kart than there are positives. The graphics are a bit dated compared to other games on the platform. Safari Kart also never explains to players how to properly drift, and the physics engine feels a bit wonky at times, causing more frustration than fun. There’s no customization either. While this is clearly inspired by Mario Kart, it definitely does not compare.
I’ve only just started Safari Kart, but so far I can say that is definitely does not compare to Mario Kart. While it may be good enough for someone who does not have a Switch and is itching for some mobile kart racing, there’s enough flaws that prevent me from fully enjoying it. The graphics look like an outdated console game, the physics engine is a bit wonky and flawed, and the game is not clear on how you drift through corners on the track. I wanted to like Safari Kart, but it’s one of those games that is lacking, at least for me.
If you don’t have a Switch and want some kart racing action, then Safari Kart may be good enough for you. But if you do have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, then this is a title you can skip over.
Safari Kart is on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for $2.99. There are no in-app purchases.