With Shrek and Madagascar being so immensely popular, it was probably inevitable that a kart racing game based on the film franchises would come to be. After all while Mario is the standard bearer for the kart racing genre, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot and even super deformed Star Wars characters have all had kart racers designed around their respective series. What is surprising though is that Dreamworks did not have enough confidence in either franchise to allow them their own game, instead grouping them both together, along with Monsters Vs. Aliens and How To Train Your Dragon, to create Dreamworks Superstar Kartz.
Dreamworks Superstar Kartz is exactly what you would expect from a kart racer minus some standard gaming conventions of this generation. Anyone that has ever played a kart racing game will be right at home with Superstar Kartz. The game features popular characters, like Shrek and Alex the Lion, that all have their own strengths and weaknesses, racing around tracks based on areas from the four different films with power up items scattered across the tracks.
The single player campaign is pretty by the numbers. There are four championship cups and finishing one, unlocks the next. None of the races are particularly difficult and I personally tired of the standard championship circuits fairly quickly. Fortunately, there is a fairly deep challenge mode that can be explored as well as a full competitive multiplayer suite to keep one entertained.
Unfortunately, for as much fun as the multiplayer suite is, it is only a viable option if you have people to play with on your system with you. I love playing with friends in the same room but sometimes it just is not a possibility. The lack of an online option is a huge oversight by developer High Impact Games, especially when Nintendo, a company with an overwhelming aversion to online play, has managed to get online play working quite well in its last two Mario Kart entries.
Worse still, in addition to the lack of online play, Dreamworks Superstar Kartz does not take full advantage of the Dreamworks license. Dreamworks released two big films this year, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, both of which are noticeably missing from the lineup of playable characters (THQ has the rights to make games based on both properties). Licensing issues aside, their exclusion from the roster makes the game as a whole feel a slight bit dishonest.
Still despite its issues, Dreamworks Superstar Kartz is a competent game that gets enough right to suggest it to big fans of either Shrek or Madagascar that are looking for a kart racing game not named Mario Kart.
3* out of 5