Sometimes traditional racing games can get a little tedious, and the urge to be able to drive around the track and simultaneously blow people up is ever-growing. While Nintendo gamers are lucky enough to have Mario Kart
to fulfill that need, other platforms often get various attempts at imitation with cartoon racers filled with funny characters and various pickups. Coffin Dodgers
is the latest of these, and puts your geriatric behind in a mobility scooter and come face to face with the Grim Reaper. Sounds promising, right?
Let me tell you a story about the time me and my friends took on the grim reaper....
What do you do when the Grim Reaper comes to claim the souls of you and your friends in your cosy retirement village? You challenge him to a mobility scooter ride to the death, of course. It is an unusual premise for a story to say the least, and the dark humor of it all is clearly deliberate. After you've chosen your preferred character in story mode, whether it's Jeremiah the Amish farmer, Hank the Harley rider or any of the other seven racers in total, you ride around your retirement village on your mobility scooter and try not to finish last. Finishing at the back is a fate worse than death, because that person becomes the Grim Reaper's next victim, and ends up racing the following tracks as an undead competitor. The more you play, the more undead you'll see not only racing with you but turning up on the track as well. Apart from the short cutscene at the beginning and end, the story doesn't really add much to the game, and the whole mode itself is rather short with only a few areas and tracks to race on.
The tracks themselves see you travel through the various areas of the village, including the town, the farm and, of course, the graveyard. Unfortunately, each of these tracks -- each are has three tracks -- are very short, and each lap shorter still. A race generally should only take you a minute or two to complete, hence why the story mode is so short. There are no hidden or extra tracks to unlock along the way, so chances are your time spent with this game will be fairly short. Time Trial and Quick Race modes are self explanatory and whilst they give you the opportunity to race in a slightly different way, it is still the same bunch of tracks to choose from. Multiplayer is limited to local, which definitely feels like a missed opportunity, so you'll need some shoulder-to-shoulder friends if you want to race more than AI elders. The Crazy Grandad mode, which sees you racing around to collect items in a time limit, seems tacked on the end, and doesn't really add anything to the game.
Who will be the next victim? Try not to let it be you!
In terms of the actual racing, you are given a tutorial to introduce you to the mechanics. They are easy to grasp though, so you shouldn't have any trouble and the tutorials feel a little unnecessary. One thing which seemed a little strange was in the tutorial the driving felt very erratic and a little hard to control the scooter, yet the actual races seemed more reliable. You don't really need any skill here and barely even need to use the brake to get round the track, so being able to pick up and play without any experience is definitely a big plus of the game. Your karts can also be upgraded, focusing on engine parts and weapons primarily. Placing high in the races earns you coins which you can then use to purchase these upgrades, but you'll probably have finished story mode before you fully upgrade your kart, which adds to the feeling that it comes to pass too quickly.
Obviously a main draw to arcade kart racing is using powerups, which turn up in the form of boxes marked with question marks. There aren't many weapons to get to grips with, but they range from a shield to an uzi and even a rocket. Most of these are focused on the more offensive side of things, so when you get to the front of the pack there is little to protect you from incoming attacks, apart from the basic shield. A crosshair helps direct your weapon aiming, but this doesn't always seem to work, especially with the Uzi which you will find misses more than it hits. While the weapons have a certain charm, they could have been a little more inventive and played off the themes of an elderly home more, though they did this to some small extent, like the defibrillator pads. If you are feeling a little crowded in, you also have a melee weapon, which is often more hassle than it's worth. It may get you out of a tight spot every now and again, but you also might lose your direction as you try and drive, turn, and smack an opponent all at the same time.
A shield may be one of the more boring powerups, but it is one of the few that'll aid you when you're leading the pack
Whilst you might find yourself easily building up a long lead at the front, your first position can easily be taken from you. The main reason for this is when you get hit by a weapon and knocked out, the respawn seems to take a lot longer than it should. You will quite probably see a lot of people pass you in this time, and whilst catching them may not take very long, the respawning gets very annoying after a while. The game suffers from various other minor problems as well, and you may find yourself lagging in the middle of a race with no-one around you or the music all of a sudden disappearing from the background. These are not game-breaking, but they are certainly noticeable and annoying.
With only 14 achievements to earn in the game, it certainly isn't the most challenging 1000G for you to earn. Whilst some of the achievements require you to kick your fellow racers when they're down
, others will ask you first in all the races, and complete the story mode not once, but twice
. You'll be wanting to try out all the weapons to take out your fellow racers, as well as injuring a few more innocent civilians
along the way. There should be no real problem with the completion here, but you might find yourself searching for particular powerups at the end, which can get really annoying when the right ones don't show up.
While it may be a little rough around the edges, Coffin Dodgers
is a fun and simple racer. The cartoony feel to the game makes it easy to admire while you race around the annoyingly short tracks, and the soundtrack is a perfect light accompaniment. Unfortunately, the game has a few problems that keep it from being great, rather than just good. The lack of online multiplayer in a racing game of this kind is a disappointment, and the length of the story and tracks themselves mean the game is over too quickly. There's still fun to be had here, just don't expect to die laughing.
- Fun and cartoony look and feel to the game
- Upgradable and customisable karts means you can make your racer faster and better
- Easy controls so game is simple to jump straight into
- Respawning after being hit takes a long time
- Story mode and race laps are very short
- Some problems with lagging and glitchy music
- No online multiplayer, which game could have benefitted from
The reviewer spent approximately 4 hours kicking the Grim Reaper's ass and driving round and round until the correct powerups showed up, unlocking all the game's achievements on the way. A download code for the game was provided for the purpose of this review.