Hazard Up Ahead - Monkey Driver

Tearing of a page from you normal Kart Racing game's book, Monkey Kart is - you have guessed it, a Kart racing game. You play a one of the kooky drivers competing in this side scrolling 2D racer. While racing these unfriendly tracks rewards the player, the real test is getting first place and taking home the gold. Strap on you seatbelts and get ready to step on the gas pedal, racing in Monkey Kart is no monkey business.

Following the Tread Marks

Visual quality in Monkey Kart is decent to say the least. The artists of the game made good use of colors and added just enough animations to make the game come alive. Wheels turning, gun pods deploying - yes, these karts have gun pods, are seen as you race through the colorful race track. The tracks themselves looks decent, with colorful back drops, some minute animations here and there and some two dimensional parallax to give the stages a sense of depth and dimension. One thing we kind of noticed with the character designs is that they look suspiciously familiar - some even looking like famous characters from another kart racing game. The graphics quality of the game can be adjusted if the gameplay begins to stutter or lag, just go to the main game screen and adjust the graphics quality on the upper-right corner of the screen.

Each course in the game has a theme, such as a beach course, a carnival course and even a Transylvanian location - complete with Dracula's castle. The designs for each course are captured by the artists quite well. The looming castle of Dracula on the Transylvanian inspired course was wonderful to look at with its dark atmosphere and lightning animations.

Rumbling of the Engines

The sound effects in the game are simple and at most times to low to be actually heard. While some sound effects where decent to listen to, many are just your generic sound you normal hear from games. Each course has its own music theme and they are well composed and matches each course's setting quite well. Again we will mention the Transylvanian inspired course since the music played on that the particular course is really epic - it kind of reminder us of the classic sound tracks from the Castlevania game series. Some course music might get a bit too childish or too cheery for some peoples taste, so the ability to turn off the music on the main menu was given.

Driving like a Pro

Monkey Kart's gameplay revolves around two things power ups and weapons. Since the game itself is two dimensional, there are no mechanics in the game involving maneuvering your vehicle. You basically hold the right arrow key to make your kart run and occasionally press up to make the kart do a small hop - useful during ledge jumping. The space bar is used to activate the boost meter for added speed or to fire weapons that you have acquired on the track.

Each character's kart has its' own built-in power up, so choosing which one to use is part of the strategy of the game. Should you go for the one with the speed boost power up or the one with the banana peel trap? It all comes down to the player's preferences. Clearing the game and finishing course unlocks more characters to use in the main game.

Different types of power ups and weapons are scattered through out the course. There are two categories for power ups, there are defensive ones - such as shield that protects you from enemy weapons and there are speed boost power up that helps gain the lead on the competition. Weapons are also found while racing, banana launchers, rockets, beehives - this is our favorite, and even banana peels. These can all be used to temporarily render your opponent or slow them down.

Road hazards are also present on all the courses found in the game. From the standard bumps and ramps to holes and ledges, all of these are dangers you must consider while racing through the tracks of Monkey Kart. Knowing when to use the up arrow key to do a hop is important in avoiding those holes that slows you down and also to jump over the ledges and ravines that will total stop you in your track.

While the road hazards are designed to slow down or hinder the racers, there are also helpful course aids such as speed up platforms and ramps that can be used to gain speed or to clear road hazards or traps left by your sneaky opponents.

The game offers multiples race courses and can be played at different difficulty levels. This adds replay value to game since playing at a higher difficulty provides a real challenge. Some courses are locked in the beginning, but can easily be unlocked by clearing existing courses.

Scores and awards are listed once the course is finished and scores can be uploaded to leader board for score comparisons with other Monkey Kart racers. Sadly, this in not an online leader board where you can check other peoples scores from around the world. Since there is no two player competitive play, score comparisons using the leader board is the only way to compete with your friends and family.

It is a Photo Finish

Lots of characters to choose from and multiple courses to race on, Monkey Kart is a good entrant to the racing kart game genre. Sadly, with no head-to-head competitive play with friends or even an online leader board, Monkey Kart still has a long way to go if it wants to compete with the big boys like Mario Kart. Players looking for a simple racing game just to spend their time while waiting for the bus or just chilling on their lunch break can easily get into Monkey Kart, we recommend giving a spin. With vibrant colors and catchy music, together with tons of content to unlock, Monkey Kart does provide on the single player aspect of the game. Monkey Kart passes the finish line at 3rd place - 83/100.