While it’s true that imitation can be flattering, someone always takes things a little too far. Certain obsessive individuals copy a person’s dress, hang out at the same spots and generally follow a little too closely for comfort.
Where Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart and Krazy Kart Racing could be described politely as having ripped off Mario Kart, Cocoto Kart Online is that seminal title’s freaky stalker.
The main character of Cocoto is a little red fella, who coincidentally appears to have a larger green brother. Elsewhere on the character select screen there’s a tortoise-like creature who just so happens to race in a shell-shaped kart.
Many of the tracks also share common themes with Nintendo’s blockbuster series, while the power-up boxes resemble translucent crystals with question marks on them. Now where have we seen that before?
Still, Cocoto Kart isn’t quite a like-for-like copy and it has a few things going for it. For one, it moves at a nice rate, with a smooth and functional 3D engine. In fact, it gets the pace just about right, falling somewhere in between Crash Nitro Kart’s slightly ponderous tootle and Krazy Kart’s mad dash.
The other major plus for the game, as the name suggests, is supremely accessible online multiplayer – something that most other kart racers have struggled to achieve, if they even bother in the first place. We were up and racing against a couple of opponents in no time at all, while the action itself was smooth and relatively low on lag.
It’s a shame, then, that Cocoto slips up on some fairly basic areas. The controls, for example, are a bit of a mess, whether you opt to use the default accelerometer or virtual D-pad to steer.
The default tilt controls just aren’t tight enough, leading to exaggerated physical movement when tackling demanding corners. This also results in a lack of precision when attempting to weave through the many obstacles that are placed in your way.
Switching to virtual controls makes things easier, but a whole lot clunkier. Your kart reacts a little too readily, jerking from one side to the other as you attempt to gently modify your approach to an upcoming corner. With the camera fixed firmly to the back of your kart, it can become a little nauseating to have your view lurching about so much.
The track design, while full of shortcuts and variations in height, is bland and nondescript. That probably has a lot to do with the art style, which appears to have been focus tested to within an inch of its life – such is the nature of its generically cute kart racer-by-numbers aesthetic.
There are also a few sloppy oversights, such as the lack of any information on the strengths and weaknesses of each karter, as well as one or two graphical inconsistencies that saw us heading for a passageway that didn’t exist.
The online mode, while smooth, lacks any form of structure. Choose to join a game and you simply continue through a series of races, without a hint of an accumulative points system or even a record of your performances [Correction: Wins are tracked online. We regret the oversight.]. It’s a curious omission given that online play is clearly the game’s focus.
Cocoto Kart is a game of mixed blessings. It’s one of the smoother karting games on the App Store and it features a technically accomplished online multiplayer mode. However, its design-by-numbers aesthetic, derivative design and unrefined controls mark it out as something of an also-ran in a competitive genre.