We’ve seen our fair share of Mario Kart clones over the years. Some, like Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, have been highly effective – others, like whatever the hell South Park Rally 64 was supposed to be, clearly haven’t.
So this generation hasn’t seen too many go-arounds in that department, because, let’s be honest, it’s going to take a lot to topple the mighty Mario Kart 8. But Wales Interactive decided to try anyway with Coffin Dodgers, a game built upon a wacky, novel concept – senior citizens actually racing for their lives.
Death has decided to take a holiday in the Sunny Pines Retirement Village, but, like Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black, he’s not leaving without taking someone with him. So the seven senior citizens in the town decide to hold a race, with the last place losers getting, ahem, taken and replaced by zombie drivers. It’s a bit weird, but, in the right development hands, it’s a concept that could really take off. Sadly, the team at Milky Tea are not the right hands.
The problem is that the game is very second rate across the board, and outside of its original idea, it doesn’t do anything much. The course design is kind of bland – even the idea of an open-world racing game doesn’t amount to much here, just because there’s very little motivation in getting there. What’s more, the offerings don’t add too much. Sure, there’s an open world mode, but hardly any reason to tackle it; and the story is barely there, serving just as a placeholder for the minimal racing antics.
That’d be fine if Coffin Dodgers had any sort of solid control system to work on. Alas, it doesn’t. The gameplay is way too slippery for its own good, as you’ll consistently crash into walls and get swatted by terribly unbalanced AI drivers. Eventually, you could get a hang of the physics, but there’s very little motivation for a first place victory, outside of a weird celebratory animation. That’s…about it.
The game does offer a split-screen multiplayer mode – surprise, no online – and it’s okay, though the graphic details do get jumbled a bit, to the point that you and your friends begin wondering why you’re not playing Mario Kart instead. It can be fun for a race or two, but for long-term fun, it just doesn’t add up.
The okay presentation doesn’t go far either. The graphics are okay but hardly anything suitable for this generation of consoles; the characters have very little innovation behind them, along with the power-ups they come across; and the music is dull and repetitive, to the point that you may think someone set the nursing home jukebox on auto-play and kept it there all day long. Yeesh.
Coffin Dodgers, with a bit more ingenuity and maybe even more snarkiness, could’ve been a fun little take on Mario Kart for players to enjoy. But the team at Milky Tea just doesn’t give in to chance, instead taking a familiar route that gets old really fast. As a result, this game isn’t really fun for anyone. South Park Rally 64 it’s not, but it takes a lot to reach that low standard. Just skip this and hunt down a good copy of Racing Transformed or Mario Kart 8 instead.