REVIEW: Hello Kitty Kruisers - Nintendo Switch
This game is worth HOW MUCH?
Out of all the things I expected to receive on my 24th birthday, this surprisingly wasn't one of them. As a huge fan of all things Hello Kitty & Sanrio, this game has been on my radar ever since I first found it a year or so ago. The game is developed by Scarab Entertainment - who from my quick research have only developed this game and another Hello Kitty racing game for the 3DS - and published by Rising Star Games. Hello Kitty Kruisers was originally released on Wii U in 2014 which is now unbelievably worth between $75 - $300 in the US! Unfortunately for me though, this isn't the case in the UK. This review is for the Nintendo Switch port of the game (how it got a port I'll NEVER know!) which was released in 2018, and although I'm talking a lot of crap about this game already, it's actually a valued part of my Nintendo Switch collection.
Hello Kitty Kruisers as you'd expect is a Sanrio clone of all our favourite racing games (Mario Kart, Sonic All-Star Racing, Crash Team Racing) but stripped back, I mean way back. Like normal there is a single player option and couch co-op for up to 4 players. There are also "Tournaments" and "Quick Play" modes as well as an "Adventure" mode that allows you to compete in time trials, etc. Players then race around a choice of 4 different "tours" all of which feature 4 different tracks which are a mix of driving, flying and sailing through various kawaii landscapes. You also have your usual power ups that allow you to take out other racers on the track, slow them down or speed yourself up. If you know nothing about Sanrio, you might as well skip to the next paragraph as here is when I'll discuss the characters on offer. The game lets us race as 10 different Sanrio characters including Kitty herself, Keropi, Badtz Maru, Chococat, My Melody, Pom Pom Purin, Tuxedo Sam, Kuromi, Cinnamoroll and Hangyodon... really?! There are so many other characters that are much more widely adored, perhaps Sanrio only licensed out those particular characters?
Let's start by reviewing the visuals, for starters this doesn't look like a current, or previous gen game. It looks as though it belongs on the PS2 or the GameCube, however I believe I've since read that it was originally developed for iOS so I guess I can almost excuse the quality. The character models look true to their original designs except less 2D and fluffy and more rounded 3D however with sharp edges?. They're also slightly off colour with Kitty looking like she needs a quick spin in the washing machine and Keropi looking more of a moss green than a fresh bright green. The vehicle design is fairly basic with 4 of the cars looking identical if it weren't for the different colour variations. This is pretty much the same for the boats and planes too. The tracks themselves although cute, are very repetitive and lack much detail, everything is decorated in high contrast colours with no textures and look flat even though they're rendered in 3D. This is really obvious in the Cosmic Way Rally track (yes, it is pretty similar to Rainbow Road) where instead of having what I believe is meant to be asteroids, they seem to have added potatoes (see picture below). Lastly, the menus are bland and utilise the most basic fonts and drab colours. Not something I'd expect to see in a Sanrio Game!
As for the gameplay, racing on wheels is as fine as it can be, the flying mechanics could be better but the sailing mechanics are diabolical. I don't mean to be a stickler (honest!) but the boat tracks are literally the same as the car tracks however they've placed a layer of blue where the road used to be. You can also DRIFT on water, how does that work!? There are multiple occasions of clipping where I'll move too close to the edge and see inside of a cliff and more often than not; anything I interact with on the road won't register, whether I get a power up and try to use it on someone nearby (it glides through them most of the time) or if I graze the edge of a ring that I'm supposed to drive through, nothing happens. The game is also really slow, I feel like I can see the FPS as each wheel turns, this leads to a lot of overlapping of other characters which means a lot of guaranteed wins. Great if you're a kid and this is your first racing game, but bad if you're used to the likes of Mario Kart 8 and you are now missing challenging gameplay. My favourite part so far is watching the other characters sometimes begin driving backwards for no reason, I don't know if it's on purpose to make them cute and goofy or if there's an error in the code but it is hilarious.
I wasn't expecting perfect. I knew that this was a budget game, made cheaply for kids to get the Sanrio product out there. But I also know that this will be a great game to pull out with friends so we can all laugh at how funny Pom Pom Purin looks in his ill-fitting cardigan and how slow the tracks are. It'll probably be the perfect game to get your children interested in racing games too as it's slow-paced, easy to pick up and full of colourful visuals. Just please, PLEASE don't pay full-price for it! For now, it'll sit proudly on my shelf next to the likes of Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because if you slap Hello Kitty on anything, I'm likely to end up buying it.
Hello Kitty: Kruisers with Sanrio Friends is currently available on the Wii U & Nintendo Switch.
For more Hello Kitty content from me see what else I've posted right here on Nerd Out Word Out, as well as on my own blog hopeelizab.co.uk.