All-Star Fruit Racing initially sold me on the basis of its premise alone – an arcade racer somewhat like Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, with a four player split-screen option on my PS4. PQube recently released the game, which is also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC – where it had a stint on early access prior to the full release.
Despite recent (and decent) arcade-like racers on the PS4, ranging from ONRUSH to Trailblazers, there’s been a big lack of more casual arcade racers in the vein of Mario Kart and the aforementioned Sonic game. All-Star Fruit Racing definitely fills that void, though it feels a tad formulaic in doing so despite offering plenty of fun and diversity.
The game, developed by 3DClouds.it, is more like Sonic & All-Stars Racing than it is like Mario Kart when you look at the diverse and colorful levels that it offers – many of them feel like you’re off-roading rather than duking it out on an asphalt-paved race track. Drifting through corners earns you a little speed boost, there are plenty of jumps, and the game features a number of different championships to compete in.
When you’ve had your fill of the game’s different championships, you can also create/configure your own. As per the norm in this genre, there are difficulty/speed levels to choose from, and the game also offers different race types to spice things up. Most of these we’ve seen in other racing games as well, such as rally-racing favorite Hill Climb and the time attack mode.
All-Star Fruit Racing’s tracks are spread out over five distinct game worlds, the majority of which are inspired by the seasons but there’s a few which are best described as “wacky” (on a sidenote, who remembers Wacky Wheels?). Expect volcanoes, dinosaurs and massive snakes, just to name a few examples. I couldn’t quite grasp how they fit with the fruit theme, but they definitely fit with the cartoon-like approach.
Performance, at least on a Playstation 4 Pro console, is smooth. Character models and environments aren’t the most detailed around, although they look fine for an indie racing game. Comparing it to another PS4 indie racer, Tabletop Racing World Tour, I’d have to say that that one has more detailed visuals – though it plays at a slower pace than All-Star Fruit Racing does.
The biggest draw that All-Star Fruit Racing offers is definitely the local multiplayer aspect of the game, something that was sorely missing from Tabletop Racing World Tour. A two player game can be enjoyed on a side-by-side split screen, and if your TV screen is big enough you can even have a comfortable session with four players at once. It’s fun, it’s accessible (partly because there’s quite a bit of rubberbanding going on here), and it makes you forget about the game’s shortcomings in terms of innovation to the genre.
I didn’t play online, but the game supports playing in eight player online matches and also allows you to customize your character/vehicle to be unique, with plenty of cosmetic options. An innovative touch comes from the boost/power-up system though, which lets you collect various kinds of fruit in order to make your own unique combo (or smoothie) to help you mid-race – or you can fill the “blender” up completely to unleash your special move that’s unique to your character. It’s a fun system that plays nicely into the fruit theme of the game, though it’s still a play off the power-up system we’ve seen in kart racers since the beginning.
This makes All-Star Fruit Racing an excellent kart racing game if you were, like me, looking for such a game on the PS4 with split screen multiplayer support. It doesn’t rock the genre with any major innovations and its fruit-inspired characters don’t have the charm of Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong or Bowser, but it’s solid fun and it at least scratches that kart racer itch.