From the early days of Mario Kart through to Crash Team Racing and Little Big Planet Karting, Kart racers have been a staple part of many a gamers library, with most franchises from Star Wars to Looney Tunes at some point or another having their own crack at them.
These games for me bring memories of going to my friends on the way to school so we could sneak in a race or two of Mario Kart in the SNES before rushing in because we’re late, arguing with friends in co-op Double Dash, and being grossed out on South Park Rally when you catch herpes.
Although very little has changed in this off-shoot racing genre, we still find ourselves drawn in time and time again to race and destroy friends and CPU alike.
Meow Motors crash lands in the middle of the karting scene with a bunch of cute Kitty drivers, but the question is does this title land on its feline feet or choke on a furball? (I’m not even sorry for those puns).
You start the main story of the game as Rocky, a racer determined to become the champion of the Cat World Championship, defeated by the foul playing Master Duke. I was quite surprised to see the story told in a comic book style (and if I’m honest, I was amazed there was any story to it at all).
Racing through 10 cups and a combined total of 62 events, you’ll unlock a further 9 cats and cars to play as, each with their own character skill that affects the way you race, as well as additional weapons that will become usable in past and future events.
Reminiscent of games like the Disney Pixar Cars series, Meow Motors keeps the gameplay simple making it accessible by all ages. You have 3 event types: Race, Drift, and Strike.
Race is exactly what it says on the tin. It will pit you against a varying bot count on different versions of the cups corresponding track, complete with weapons to hinder your opponents.
The second mode Drift takes us to Tokyo, where Rocky tries to gain acceptance in the underground drift scene… no, wait – wrong franchise! Drift leaves you solo on the course, drifting to build your combo and get that high score. The course, however, has randomly placed mines to sabotage those high combo drifts which sometimes can be in some really cruel positions making you need to restart the event.
Strike, our third and final event type is your Twisted Metal of the Meow Motors scene. You’re up against a never-ending sea of CPU racers for you to blow to kingdom come as you aim for the target kill count before the time limit expires.
Controls keep it simple an arcade style handling relying on drifting rather than brakes for cornering, I found myself wishing the game had the option for an auto drift to make life easier when my kid joined me for a few races. They managed every other aspect of the game but toggling the drift button before and after corners was a bit too much for a 4-year-old. In the end, they got bored and asked me to put Forza Horizon 4 on for them and left me playing solo. Don’t take that as an insult to the game, however – they just like free roam driving games!
Graphics and Audio
When it comes to racing games from indie studios, it can sometimes be a dice roll with the quality of the graphics or the density of level scenery, and in this area, Meow Motors didn’t disappoint me. Although design wise and with the cel-shading, it looks very ps3 era, it’s still quite clearly well done. Each character looks unique and high quality as do the cars, and the levels themselves don’t feel barren as some indie racer tracks do as it has plenty of decoration to bring it to life.
The audio is again, quite a throwback to older gen racers with the style of background music and surprisingly catchy. I found it very enjoyable at first but by the time I was halfway through the cups, I’d zoned it out and was no longer conscious of it.
The game unfortunately only has local multiplayer, but slightly redeems that fact with the benefit of it being 4 player, so it can complete that trip down nostalgia lane that this game invokes with some 4 player split-screen with your friends. My experience with this was smooth with no degradation of the gameplay quality.
All in all, this game has been a fun and nostalgic trip with some classic arcade racing fun. With content that is suitable for all ages and accessible gameplay, both adult and child alike will enjoy this title. It isn’t a title you’ll sit and play for days, but it can bring a few hours of fun as well as be a contender on the party game list.
My main criticisms are that the translation is often quite poor and could do with being updated/rewritten as younger children will certainly struggle with it, plus I wasn’t too keen on unlocking a new weapon in each cup. I’d rather have all the weapons available at the start, Mario Kart style.
At only £10.49 on the PSN store, it’s a relatively cheap title with an easy platinum that’s purrfect for you hunters out there. Oh yeah, I went there again.
Title: Meow Motors
Genre: Casual, Indie, Racing
Release Date: 2 Nov, 2018