When the folks at OUYA offered us access to the Super Indie Karts beta, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only is it a love letter to the 16-bit era of Mario Kart, which I loved, but features some of my favorite indies as racers to boot.
What originally began as a failed Kickstarter for Super World Karts in 2013 was successfully backed by 631 fans as Super Indie Karts the following year. More impressively, it’s being developed solo by Paul Hamilton under the guise of One Legged Seagull Games out of Queensland, Australia.
As expected, the game plays very similarly to Mario Kart on SNES. It features 16-bit graphics, a retro soundtrack (courtesy of Shannon Mason), a close draw distance, the most basic of control schemes, and a handful of power-ups to help change the course of the race. With the addition of leaping to drift along the track in order to gain a short burst of speed, it’s a solid blend of nostalgia and modern convenience.
Since the game is still currently in beta, a majority of its content is still out of reach. Currently there’s only one gameplay mode, Grand Prix, while Time Trials and Battle Mode are expected to release at some point in the future. Grand Prix is similar to Mario Kart, offering three different speed classes to choose from, and I assume Time Trials and Battle Mode will be just as their names imply. Nothing too fancy, really, but the kicker is the lack of multi-player offerings. There’s currently no way to play with my friends, which is a huge bummer as that’s where I spend most of my time in these types of games. Battle Mode will eventually scratch that itch, but in an e-mail I received from the developer, the current plan is to incorporate local multi-player only; with the possibility of online multi-player being added later.
It’s a fun game nonetheless, and it was neat seeing how all of the old power-ups from Mario Kart transitioned over. Turtle shells became watermelons, complete with a three-melon shield that could be saved and launched at will. Banana peels became ice cream cones that could be dropped behind me to thwart the pesky bumper humpers. It was all there, and the nostalgia hit me in full force.
Where Super Indie Karts kind of lost me though is in its track design, which are split between Indie Cups (cross-over tracks) and World Cups (original designs). There’s some cool cross-overs from Canabalt, Read Only Memories, and Toto Temple Deluxe that I had fun with, but some of the tracks were so busy and dark that I often found myself getting too disoriented to enjoy them; namely the Fist of Awesome and Whispering Willows tracks.
While the original tracks did add a bit of variety, they kind of took away from the “indie” part of Super Indie Karts. I don’t really see myself going back to the original tracks very often either, as that was never the appeal of the beta for me. I’m sure One Legged Seagull wants to show us that there’s more to the game than its indie melting pot, and I’m not completely opposed to original tracks either, but I’m definitely more interested in seeing the cross-over stuff.
As with the available game modes, the beta status of Super Indie Karts has a limited roster; although there’s a lot of great characters to choose from as-is. All of the characters are unlocked from the start in the beta, but the full version will only offer 8 racers; with the rest being locked inside of the Dig ‘n Dugs shop to be purchased with coins earned throughout the races. I’ll post the current list below so you can see for yourself.
Available racers as of 5/18/2015:
- Turing, Conway, and Spirit – Read Only Memories: A New Cyberpunk Adventure
- Sparkie – An OUYA console
- Mutt and Protomutt – Lobodestroyo vs. La Liga de Los Villanos
- Filo – So Many Me
- Canabalt – Canabalt
- Lea – CrossCode
- Duck – Duck Game
- Elena – Whispering Willows
- A.R.E.S. – A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda EX
- Tim Burr – Fist of Awesome
- Toto Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow – Toto Temple Deluxe
- Pip – Adventures of Pip
- Lord O’Saurus – Gentlemen… Ricochet!
- Clu and Bart – Aegis Defenders
- Danielle – Holobunnies
- Clive & Wrench – Clive n’ Wrench
There’s plenty of empty roster spots to fill up as development continues, and my fingers are crossed for Amazing Frog? to make an appearance at some point! Elliot from Elliot Quest would be another welcome addition, and I wouldn’t say no to a Gunslugs, Knightmare Tower, Super Pixalo, PotatoMan Seeks the Troof, Reagan Gorbachev, TowerFall, Meltdown, Momodora, or Richard & Alice cross-over either.
With minimal gripes about the game’s track design, I’m definitely sold on the idea of Super Indie Karts and I’ll be following its development until the retail version is available for download (whenever that may be). Beta access across Steam and OUYA are both $19.99, and include access to the full game upon release. When asked about the difference between each version, Hamilton replied “…the only difference I can see right now is the max FPS I can get on an OUYA is around 30, whereas on a PC you can get over 100. Steam also has more community features built in, such as screenshot sharing, video uploading and discussions built into it.”
Have you taken the Super Indie Karts beta for a spin yet? Tell us all about it down in the comments, and let us know what indie you’d like to see enter the race next!
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s no stranger to sinking an absurd amount of time in to an MMO, but also has a deep seeded love for pro wrestling, horror films, and his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.