You’d think that developers would shy away from releasing a kart racer on a platform that already has the definitive game in the genre, Mario Kart, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped 3DClouds.
Comparisons to Nintendo’s mascot racer are inevitable, so how does All-Star Fruit Racing stack up? Initial signs are good, here is a brightly coloured racer that has its own unique style with tracks and cars all based on fruit and even fruit facts appearing during the loading screens.
There are plenty of racers and cars unlocked from the start and, possibly most surprising, all the initial racers are female. It’s worth noting as this is an interesting change from the norm, where most of the racers in other games are predominantly male. It’s certainly welcome, though it seems odd there isn’t even one single male racer in the unlocked line-up, these need to be unlocked through winning tournaments. Still, it’s nice to see this flipping of expectations in a racer. It’s a little odd, given the name, that none of the racers are familiar, I’m still trying to work out where the ‘All-star’ in the title applies here.
Your first stop in Fruit Racer is a tutorial that takes you through the basics; driving, drifting and weapons. Weapons are the most interesting element as they echo Mario Kart in most of their uses but use an odd recharging mechanic where different coloured fruit is collected separately and powers different styles of weapon. In modes that support the individual weapon types you’ll need to fill the tank to get the best results or wait until all tanks are full for a special. Thinking on your feet about which weapon to use, and therefore which power ups to pick up first, while driving takes some getting used to but adds an interesting element to the game. Other modes will let you mix and match power ups to make it easier.
The tracks range from the mundane mountain pass style lanes to the far more interesting multi-layered, multi lane levels, though none really stand out against Mario’s tracks. The Career mode takes you through all the tracks, some appear several times, while the Quick Race and Time Attack modes let you choose. The problem comes with the pop-in of objects and obstacles, with the console failing to keep up at times with drawing objects before they become too close for comfort. It’s worse with the Switch in handheld mode than on the TV, but in both modes it’s still an issue.
The final bugbear comes from loading screens, which run for almost a minute at a time. Added up, these become grating when all you want to do is get into the race.
All-Star Fruit Racing is bright colourful and not afraid to do something different, in that respect it should be commended. It’s just a pity that the overall package lets it down somewhat.