All-Star Fruit Racing Review

By Mark Delaney, 2 months ago
Kart racing is the type of game that can be so addictive when done right, but finding a really good one remains rarer than one might think. For Xbox One players, there have been several genre titles since the console came into our lives, but none have been better than All-Star Fruit Racing. With an adorable aesthetic, great track variety, and plenty of game modes, it's an irresistibly sweet kart racer no genre fan should miss.

All-Star Fruit Racing

All-Star Fruit Racing (ASFR) is exactly what it sounds like. Across several vibrant tracks and using many diverse racers, players can compete in a number of game modes spanning everything you've come to expect in games like this. Career mode is a collection of a dozen different Grand Prix-like events where players compete against AI racers for trophies. With a fair difficulty curve, the game has a good manner of raising the level of competition slowly over the course of a career. There's no story overlayed to the game, so there's no context to why you're competing in a fruity fantasy, but there need not be one — ASFR is a delight just as it is. The aesthetically different overworlds make for a wide range of tracks on which to compete, and they really pop off the screen in a way that is irresistibly cute.

There are many racers in the game with even more to unlock later, and each of them is designed around a specific fruit. That means their karts and special abilities are unique. Although these mostly voiceless characters don't have much personality outside of their apparent fruit allegiances and some unique idle animations in the menus, you'll still find yourself with favorites thanks to some mix of their color scheme, style, and special power-up. If you want to use custom karts, you can do that with a pretty impressive garage feature too. Clearly modeled after Rocket League, the customization options include car body types, paint patterns, paint types, wheels, and antennae. Early on, a lot of the custom pieces will be locked behind progress, but over time you'll unlock many new items with which you can make your kart truly yours, even though the default karts are already so appealing.

Outside of the career, you can do one-off championships, create your own championships, or compete in single races, including different types like elimination mode, which is a staple for arcade racers at this point, and dragster mode, which means everyone's juice slowly refills. You can also play most modes in local multiplayer for up to four players, or even compete online. There's no shortage of ways to play ASFR and they all remain fun thanks to strong central mechanics that make the racing as exciting and adorable as it should be.

Drifting, hitting speed boosts, and well-timed power-ups are again the keys to winning like they are in so many other genre titles, but ASFR adds a layer to its power-up system that is surprisingly deep for a game that could've gotten pretty far on just being a colorful and competent racer. Some races will give you randomized power-ups as you drive over orbs to collect them and that's nothing new, but when juicer rules are in effect, you can mix and match four different juices to create the exact power-up you need. Fill up all four juices to the brim and you'll earn your special move to use, but even then you can elect not to if you need something else instead. This system resolves a problem that many other kart racers suffer from when your power-up is useless given your position, like a shield when you're in last place or a forward-firing missile when you're at the front of the pack. Now you can pick exactly what you want to fire off, provided you fight for the correct juice pick-ups on the track.

An apple per race keeps the competition out of your face.An apple per race keeps the competition out of your face.

From top to bottom, ASFR is full of charm, although its spell of cuteness is shattered on occasion. For one, the audio isn't as impressive as the visuals. Custom horns can be used for your karts and a lot of the audio sounds like it's ripped from internet soundboards. That audio is also poorly mixed with horns coming in much louder than the rest of the game's sounds. One of the horns is so jarring that I had no idea what it was meant to be for a while. Apparently it was the sound of laughter.

While much of the soundtrack is delightful and fitting, that's not always the case. Some strangely lax musical tracks were used, made stranger when the final lap is meant to ramp up the pace, but sometimes the music in ASFR would check out entirely at that point, leaving the would-be intense final lap totally without a soundtrack. Other power-up noises seemed to suffer from bugs, as well, or maybe they were again just weird recordings like the laughing horn. It shouldn't be hard to tell, and that's the point. Additionally, the game crashed three times, although only ever from the menus. This makes the problem more forgivable as progress was never lost, but it's still an annoyance.

Although the achievements were unlocking during my playthrough, the list was not yet live on Xbox. However, the several achievements I did gather indicate the list is identical to its Steam counterpart. That means you'll get a lot of easy ones for playing with different characters and using their specials, winning in the many tournaments and modes, and performing a number of other specific feats, like starting 10th and winning a race. The full list will eventually require you to stick around for 20+ hours and see it all, but it's a great game overall, so that's no grind for kart racing fans.

Check out our Best Xbox Arcade Racing Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

All-Star Fruit Racing is as sweet as its name implies. With an irresistibly cheerful aesthetic, plenty of game modes, great track variation, and good customization options all built on top of a fun kart racing foundation, there's no reason to expect genre fans won't adore this game. Audio problems get in the way of making it exceptionally great, but in every other way, it's exactly what you would want from a kart racer and then some.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Colorful and delightful art design
  • Great mix of tracks and racers
  • Evolved power-up system
  • Strong collection of kart customization options
  • Fair and fun difficulty curve
  • Full of charm
Negatives
  • Audio issues, both in design and from bugs
  • Game crashed while in the menus several times
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 6 hours on the naturally sweet streets of All-Star Fruit Racing, earning approximately 15 achievements while the list was not yet published on Xbox Live. A review copy was provided by the publisher and the game was played on a standard Xbox One.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.