Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing–Rally Edition


Ever wanted a Mario Kart-style game on your Xbox, but with more annoying characters?


Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing–Rally Edition may have a grand title but it doesn't start too well with a tutorial that has you driving as Donkey and Shrek giving you instructions. You know this because the donkey looks like the donkey from Shrek and there's a static info panel with an inset picture of Shrek on the screen, but the voices sound like you hired Eddie Murphy (Donkey) and Mike Myers (Shrek) impersonators on wish. Further voice clips and quips are massively overused and the music borders on headache-inducing, so the game is best played with the volume down low.

You have a choice of race types: Cups, Free Race, Challenges and Time Trial modes. Then a choice of drivers from the available characters like Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots (from Shrek), Po, Tigress and Grand Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda), Mr. Wolf (The Bad Guys), Alex (the Lion from Madagascar), Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon) and Wolf from Puss in Boots.

You can customise your kart with a choice of chassis design, engine, wheels and spoiler. More variations are unlocked by winning races and cups, and they all alter the characteristics of your kart slightly.

Hiccup seems to be looking for Toothless...

The tracks are themed on the various Dreamworks movies and the styles are instantly recognisable (if you've seen the movies.) You can get a boost start by tapping 'RB' when the moving musical note is in the window, and driving through more musical notes boosts your "Trolls Surprise" gauge. There are accelerator pads and strips that you're going to want to hit as often as possible to keep your speed up. There are also harp shaped icons that make magical rainbow shortcuts appear, and if you string all of them together they usually lead to a collectible. Care should be taken on these though as they'll disappear out from under you if you're too slow or too far behind the kart that triggered the rainbow. Other, permanent shortcuts can also be found and will genuinely save you time and gain you places.

The drift mechanic is instinctive and easy to control ('LB' or 'L Trigger' + steer) and when you've drifted for a while with your rear wheels spinning you'll gain a speed boost as soon as you come out of the drift –the longer the drift, the bigger the boost. Drive-through power-ups include random speed boosts and forward (thrown) and rearward dropped weapons triggered with the  "A" button, and when the gauge is full a Trolls Surprise on 'Y', which could seemingly be good or bad for you (you can check out the results with rear view 'B'.) If holding the right Trigger becomes a chore you can even turn 'Auto Accelerate" on in the pause menu. The 'X' button is your brake but is practically redundant. If you leave or fall off the track, you'll swiftly be plonked back on by the Dreamworks logo–a nice touch.

Some of the tracks have absolutely crazy designs.

The difficulty can be set to "Relaxed" (which is very gentle with a slow pace and is suitable for n00bs and kids) through "Regular" (should be easy for any kart game veterans), "Turbo" (a decent challenge) right up to "Lightning" which is like racing a grid full of psychotic Verstappens and will provide a challenge for the best kart racers out there. Your kart goes faster the higher the difficulty is set, but so does the opposition's, and they get a lot more aggressive with their weapons too.

But some are more down-to-Earth.

On Xbox Series X you get a very smooth 4-player split screen mode, which is great for family or party play, and online racing, which I can't really comment on because we could never find a race! Given the problems we've had finding online races for the last couple of racing games we reviewed, we can only surmise that dedicated online racing games seem to be struggling at the moment, with maybe Gran Turismo, F1 and the Forzas being the only exceptions.

Dreamworks All-Star Kart Racing–Rally Edition is a cheerful, colourful, smooth & polished Mario Kart substitute, just don't buy it for the online component.

Thanks to: Bamtang, Game Mill Entertainment, Renaissance PR and PressEngine for the review code.