Fruit is, pizza toppings arguments aside, a pretty inclusive thing. Five fruit a day is recommended for most folks, it’s often kink friendly, and at least some of it is endorsed by Donkey Kong. So when it immediately leaps out at me that a game with a variety of fruit from all around the world in a Mario-Kart style racer with a twist is… Very, very caucasian, when it comes to the current driver set, I get very sad. And not a little irritable.
I mean, there’s 13 drivers left to put in the game, but right now, that’s definitely not an encouraging sign for inclusivity, folks. Which is even stranger when it also takes great pains to tell you how fruit are pretty much a worldwide thing, with awesome Fruit Facts (Which are, in fact, awesome. Props for that.)
Aesthetically, apart from that not-so-wee problem mentioned, the game is on point. The visuals are gorgeous, the tracks appear fairly well signposted, the music is funky and bouncy and cool. I like this. This is good. Equally good is that yes, this is a spin on that old family favourite, Mario Kart, in which you are in buggies/karts, and you’re racing around a track using powerups. There’s even variety in the modes. Do you randomly juice that fruit, taking the traditional route of random powerups? Do you mix your fruit, getting powerups due to the combo of fruit you have? Do you maybe have a selection, chosen with the arrow keys between Summer, Spring, Fall, and Winter, that you power up by collecting the right season? Maybe you like time attacks? Maybe you like drag races, one lap, winner takes all?
Any which way, you have power ups, including the special of each character (Rebecca’s Strawberry Wing, for example, is a super-turbo, while Giselle’s Avocado Bite is your very own chompy plant, knocking back anyone who dares to be in front of your suddenly extended and quite bitey bumper), you have drifting (and drifting just right also gives you a small boost, although it must be said the AI seems to try drifting even on straights, and it seems to work.) You have jumps and boost pads, and it all works pretty smoothly. Apart from racer special abilities, however, the cars act exactly the same, compensated for by a moderately wide range of visual customisation of the vehicles, with more unlocked as you complete tournaments in career mode.
Track design wise? Even early on, you will come across tracks where the shorter path is required for first place, and some tracks feel earlier than, honestly, they should be. For all that, yes, the snaking tube track that finishes the first gear Banana Cup, for example, is an interesting track with the difficulty modifier that the blue stripe acts like a river (slowing you down greatly), it feels less challenging, for its single lap, drag style race to the finish line, than a preceding track, which involves minecarts that, if they run over you, flatten and drastically slow you, and a final stretch where there’s not just one longer path, but a longer path that splits into another, longer path.
Beyond the mentioned lack of variety in racers (not mechanically, but in terms of being all white girls), a need for some form of tutorialising or reference on fruit mixing (I get by on winging it, but while I know I can mix winter, summer, autumn, and fall for things, I’d also like to know, y’know, what mixes what, even if it’s some kind of Fruitopedia. Which, to be fair, could also add some flavour to the world), a clearer sense of what each tournament contains, and perhaps the option for a slightly less vicious AI, it seems promising. The game does not currently have multiplayer, but it’s quite clearly on the roadmap, and, these problems aside, it seems like it could make a good, family friendly and fairly accessible arcade racer.
The Mad Welshman wouldn’t mind at least one villainous fruit monster in the roster. I don’t know, maybe a moustache twirling gooseberry? Obviously not suggested for selfish reasons. Obviously.