There are a lot of people out there that don’t care for every single genre, but can still find some enjoyment from the odd title when they feel a particular itch. Racing games fall under that definition for me. That not to say that I didn’t develop a particular fondness for cart racing games due to gems like Mario Kart on the SNES or even the sadly underrated Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on the PS3. However, I had not found a game to fill that urge on the PS4. After finally being exposed to Coffin Dodgers, I can honestly say that I am left still searching.
Let’s start on the surface and take a look at the graphics. They are dated, so much so that the only way they could be considered passable is if they were originally from a PS1 game that had its resolution touched up for a current gen re-release. There are a lot of games out there that aren’t great on a technical level but make up for it with creativity, charm or a unique artistic style that masks their short comings.
There is absolutely none of that here.
In fact, creativity is in short supply entirely. It’s almost as if the developers came up with concepts that they thought sounded good on paper and then just went with whatever first draft one of them came up with. No attempt was made to characterize the racers in order to set them apart from one another and course selection is incredibly limited. There are 3 tracks per cup but they all look aesthetically similar so you will only get four backgrounds total. In fact, it seems like each cup consists of one map that had its courses drawn from placing borders in a different pattern than the last. The final cup is only one track and it’s a jigsaw of areas from previous courses. It just screams lazy.
Power ups and unlockables follow the same mentality of being completely drab and lacking any form of effort. Most are uninventive copies of what we have seen before. Did you like red shells? In this game they are rockets. Banana peels? Have some oil cans instead. Were green shells your thing? Too bad, you get a terribly inaccurate uzi that takes multiple hits to knock a racer off their cart. Do you want a unique power up? There are none, so just move along. All of your characters also share a cart which you can upgrade with a tougher body or better weapon capacity with the coins you earn in game.
Oh I forgot about unlockables. Death, you can unlock the character Death. It’s not really hidden. Just beat the story mode and you have collected 100% of the “secret” characters (you can even see him on the character select screen from the start).
I know I am coming off as pretty harsh and really the game is not as bad as I am making it seem. It’s a cart racers so it really does come down to how the game plays. In that regard, controls and handling are actually decent once you get passed the initial learning curve, which is all honesty only takes a run or two. There are other racers on the course and won’t often be able to blame them passing you because your controller was being uncooperative.
Back to the issues, the biggest problem is the limited modes make it so that once you have gotten the platinum, a feat that can be achieved in only a few hours, you will have no reason whatsoever to go back to this game. As I mentioned earlier there is a small number of very similar courses and nothing like the amazing battle modes from Mario Kart games to keep you from deleting this off of your hard drive. There is an open world mode that gives you a Crazy Taxi style arrow pointing you to random items for collection before a timer runs out. This would fit in fine with the old high score/leaderboard gaming universe of yesteryear but gamers have evolved and expect more by today’s standard. A mode of repetition like this would be more effective for replay if it led to something like more unlockables, you know, beyond the one that is already in this game.
All in all, it’s not the worst cart racer ever developed but it can easily be skipped due to its limited replayability and almost complete lack of creativity. Even for the hardcore trophy hunter this game needs to be on sale from it’s almost 15 dollar usual price to be justifiable.