Konami Krazy Racers

Game Overview

When it comes to mascot games, Nintendo is key. They have one of the largest stables of video game characters in existence and they find new and innovative ways to use those mascots (and mix them together) to create whole new gaming experiences time and again. Mario was their first, back when he was named Jumpman, and his set the path for other mascots to appear in games as he then went on to feature in a good portion of the NES's stable from Nintendo, and then some.

Although Konami might not have the sheer number of mascot characters that Nintendo does, they do have their own solid stable, from Goemon to Dracula, the Twin-Bees and Vic Vipers and whatever else you can think of. Konami wasn't shy about putting all these mascots together, having created a whole series of "Wai Wai" crossover titles, starting all the way back with Konami Wai Wai World before moving on into other genres and other games.

With the success Nintendo found with Super Mario Kart, a game that redefined the Go Kart racing genre (even though Sega was the first in the genre with Power Drift), the company set the standard for any kart racer to come. Many other companies jumped in with their own versions, from Sega to Sony, but none were quite as successful (neither critically nor commercially) as Nintendo's own racers. it does seem inevitable that Konami would eventually try their own hand at a kart racing crossover title, but it took them nine years to eventually release their own version of the genre with Konami Krazy Racers (Konami Wai Wai Reshingu Adobansu in Japan).

The game hews close to Nintendo's template, and tent pole, title, Super Mario Kart. It features a roster of drivers, from light to heavy, and a series of 16 course for them to race on (broken up into four "cups"). Players race around flat, Mode 7 courses, collecting power-ups and fighting off other racers, all so they can try to get 1st place. Score enough points across four course and you'll get the trophy for the cup, earning the right to race at a higher level. It's all the basic stuff you expect from a kart racer post-Super Mario Kart.

That, in fact, is both its blessing and its curse. It does feature Konami's own mascots, although with areas and music based on Konami's games. Mechanically, though, it doesn't drift far enough away from Nintendo's own games to truly stand out in the crowd. Worse, it had the misfortune to come out at the same time as Nintendo's own sequel, the GBA-based Mario Kart: Super Circuit, meaning Konami's title went head-to-head on the same platform, in the same year, as Nintendo's iteration. Between the two, Nintendo's game was going to win simply because of name recognition.

Probably Konami felt that their stable of characters were enough to fight off Nintendo's advances and maybe in Japan this was true. A lot of the characters features in this game were probably better know to Japanese audiences than in the U.S. and abroad. While most would know Dracula, fewer would recognize Goemon, let alone Ebisumaru, Pastel, or the Moai. This was a game that lovingly paid tribute to Konami's deep-cut stable of games, but most of those games didn't come out in the West (and those that did failed to find the same level of success). This game was tailored for one audience and sent to try and win over the rest. It didn't really succeed on that front nearly as well.

The game was moderately successful all the same, even warranting a mobile phone sequel, Krazy Kart Racing, in 2009. Konami's Krazy Racers, though, didn't have the impact in the West the company probably hopes, and the fan-base for the game at this point is very small. It's a solid racer but between a combination of poor timing, failure to innovate, and an audience that wasn't primed for Konami's stable of games, this pretty decent little racer sank to "also ran" status.