Truly, this is the age of Power Up Based Racers

 Part of me wants to give Activision's Marketing Department kudos for the timing of their big press event, and how it popped up the week that Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing and ModNation Racers both got Quickly Looked at as it strikes me as the perfect way to rob both kart racers of their thunder. Watching the Kart Racers' Quick Looks what really stuck with me was how derivative they were rather than how their deviations from the formula were well done or how their fan service was better than Nintendo's fan service. While I sorta got the impression that for Mario Kart clones they were perfectly fine, the thing Blur made me realize is that I don't want a Mario Kart Clone. Now, this might be partially because I've never been a Mario Kart man myself. The earlier games controlled horribly and the later games had terrible power ups and AI issues. I was always more of a Diddy Kong Racing man myself, and blur seems more like DKR than it does MK64. Items aren't randomized, theres an emphasis on collecting them and using them smartly, and there are several different classes of vehicles which all handle distinctly. It's interesting to note that the game that avoids the stigmas of being comparable to Mario Kart takes after a game that avoided the stigmas of being a Mario Kart Clone. 
 
Going back to the Kart Racers, Sonic and Sega seems fine for what it is, a massive fan service wrapped around a kart racing game. Lots of well detailed tracks and characters from Sega's back catalog. As someone who has little experience with Sonic outside of the 3D ones (Which I actually enjoyed at the time) and a few other games, what it really did is make me wish that Nintendo's fan service in Mario Kart was half as good as this. I mean, they only give one course to DK per game, and that course will either be a jungle that doesn't look at all like anything seen on Donkey Kong Island, or a Mountain that may bear a slight resemblance to K3. Fucking Samba has like 3 courses in the Sega game, and everything looks like it wasn't made to fit into the game better, it was made to please fans more. But then, despite how good the fan service looks to me as an observer, judging from the quick look, actual Sega fans just walk away with a list of characters and franchises that should've been represented. I guess it speaks to the futility of fan service, as even if you do try to put together a fair amount of quality locations and characters for your game, crazy fans, that is to say your target audience, will be disappointed in the exclusions of their favorite characters and locations from your past. Brawl was like that for me with K Rool and Krystal as my reasonable hopes and Jr Troopa as my impossibly obscure hope.
 
  As for ModNation Racers, it also looks fine for what is is, but watching the quick look I found the claims of the producer to really ring false considering how it was a clone and all. It's the way he talks about how the Power Up System is unique when it is obviously the DKR Stacking Power Up system only random, as well as the way he talks about how one might drop a mine when picking up a power up if they were to be clever, despite that being the first thing that comes to mind in a Mario Kart game when one gets a mine, especially in the case of the Fake Item Box mine. In the blur quick look road trip, Ben Ward pulls off a similar technique, dropping a mine as he picks up a nitro, but he does not stop to comment on it being something original to blur, and I think that's one of the strengths blur has as a power up based racer. It does not stop to say that it has originated all the ways of using power ups, only that it implements them more fairly and more satisfyingly than ever before.

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4 Comments
Posted by TheMasterDS

 Part of me wants to give Activision's Marketing Department kudos for the timing of their big press event, and how it popped up the week that Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing and ModNation Racers both got Quickly Looked at as it strikes me as the perfect way to rob both kart racers of their thunder. Watching the Kart Racers' Quick Looks what really stuck with me was how derivative they were rather than how their deviations from the formula were well done or how their fan service was better than Nintendo's fan service. While I sorta got the impression that for Mario Kart clones they were perfectly fine, the thing Blur made me realize is that I don't want a Mario Kart Clone. Now, this might be partially because I've never been a Mario Kart man myself. The earlier games controlled horribly and the later games had terrible power ups and AI issues. I was always more of a Diddy Kong Racing man myself, and blur seems more like DKR than it does MK64. Items aren't randomized, theres an emphasis on collecting them and using them smartly, and there are several different classes of vehicles which all handle distinctly. It's interesting to note that the game that avoids the stigmas of being comparable to Mario Kart takes after a game that avoided the stigmas of being a Mario Kart Clone. 
 
Going back to the Kart Racers, Sonic and Sega seems fine for what it is, a massive fan service wrapped around a kart racing game. Lots of well detailed tracks and characters from Sega's back catalog. As someone who has little experience with Sonic outside of the 3D ones (Which I actually enjoyed at the time) and a few other games, what it really did is make me wish that Nintendo's fan service in Mario Kart was half as good as this. I mean, they only give one course to DK per game, and that course will either be a jungle that doesn't look at all like anything seen on Donkey Kong Island, or a Mountain that may bear a slight resemblance to K3. Fucking Samba has like 3 courses in the Sega game, and everything looks like it wasn't made to fit into the game better, it was made to please fans more. But then, despite how good the fan service looks to me as an observer, judging from the quick look, actual Sega fans just walk away with a list of characters and franchises that should've been represented. I guess it speaks to the futility of fan service, as even if you do try to put together a fair amount of quality locations and characters for your game, crazy fans, that is to say your target audience, will be disappointed in the exclusions of their favorite characters and locations from your past. Brawl was like that for me with K Rool and Krystal as my reasonable hopes and Jr Troopa as my impossibly obscure hope.
 
  As for ModNation Racers, it also looks fine for what is is, but watching the quick look I found the claims of the producer to really ring false considering how it was a clone and all. It's the way he talks about how the Power Up System is unique when it is obviously the DKR Stacking Power Up system only random, as well as the way he talks about how one might drop a mine when picking up a power up if they were to be clever, despite that being the first thing that comes to mind in a Mario Kart game when one gets a mine, especially in the case of the Fake Item Box mine. In the blur quick look road trip, Ben Ward pulls off a similar technique, dropping a mine as he picks up a nitro, but he does not stop to comment on it being something original to blur, and I think that's one of the strengths blur has as a power up based racer. It does not stop to say that it has originated all the ways of using power ups, only that it implements them more fairly and more satisfyingly than ever before.

Posted by Nasar7

Good blog. I know Blur is still in development but from the video something about it just doesn't look right. To me it looked more like Spyhunter type multiplayer which I was never a fan of. I agree though that the modnation racers guy was being ridiculous insinuating that their ideas were in any way original, although good implementation does count for something.
 
Most of all you've just given me some crazy Diddy Kong Racing nostalgia. Really wish I still had it.

Posted by DystopiaX

To respond to your blog title, i think it would be more accurate to say that the days of Mario Kart 64 was the age of power-up based racers, since they were much more popular than they are now.

Posted by Whisperkill

To me, Burnout Paradise is the most fun racing game i've ever played. And I doubt anything will top it any time soon.