You got Peanut Butter in my kart racer!
When William Ho introduced himself, he told us he loved three things: kart racing, LittleBigPlanet, and the marriage of those two, LittleBigPlanet Karting. It's not hard to see where the love comes from. Any true gamer with a pair of thumbs and a sibling knows the joy of careening around a whimsical race track and using a homing rocket to steal first place.
And really, LBP Karting wears its influences on its sleeve. There's LittleBigPlanet—the score bubbles, customization items strewn around race tracks, and the venerable Sackboy. There's ModNation Racers—developer United Front Games sharpened their teeth with the create-and-play racer on PS3 and Sony's portable platforms.
And then there's all the other great kart racers you've played in the past. Success in this genre means not changing things much. You risk alienating the childhood memories that drive people to shell out $60 for a rather shallow and random genre.
Luckily, LBP Karting skirts the line between "too much" and "not enough", providing gamers with the opportunity to take Sackboy for a spin around a self-made track while keeping a finger on the pulse of the genre.
William Ho was quick to establish that slap fighting is more than present in the game. At times, hitting your adjacent opponents is the most satisfying endeavor in a race. Drifting and earning boosts also feels responsive and varies due to a number of suspensions available to the player.
Even picking up weapons and hoarding them for more powerful variations is a natural extension of the kind of balance ModNation Racers has established. Still, Sony's protective of the brand, and Karting doesn't seem to carry the LBP name lightly. Prize bubbles and end-of-match scoreboards are LBP through and through. Players can take to the pod to customize their Sackboy and their race kart with all their pick-ups and more.
Many customizations are lifted straight out of LBP and LBP2, including Sackboy materials and outfits. Karts are just as customizable, down to the way the car sounds (the Euro set sounds sexy) and the way your horn sounds (how can you not go with the "Funky" horn?)
Sure, you can call LBP Karting derivative, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. LittleBigPlanet is charming enough, United Front Games has the pedigree, and kart racing is in sore need of new blood. And by new blood, they mean everyone out there with the desire to create their own race tracks and modes.