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Cartoon Network Racing Package Art
Cart Racing
Firebrand Games
The Game Factory

Cartoon Network Racing

It is inevitable that cute, moppety characters star in their own cart-racing title. The rule was written initially by Mario and his crew of Mushroom Kingdom cronies, and has since been practiced by the likes of Crash Bandicoot, DK, Mickey Mouse, Jak and Daxter, and Chocobos. The latest group to hop on the bandwagon -- or, as it would be, grab onto the cartís tail-pipe while huffing mounds of candy-colored, power-up fueled exhaust -- is the Cartoon Network crew in Cartoon Network Racing.

The line-up consists of characters that havenít been fashionable in years (Cartoon Network doesnít even air most of the shows anymore), Cartoon Network Racing brings out their respective references and environments in full force for this handheld outing. That may be enough to keep the bigger toon-headís sated, but those looking for a good racer may find this titleís gameplay all too typical of the genre.


The graphics in Cartoon Network Racing are rich and colorful, which is expected given the gameís source material. You wonít be finding the same eye-wateringly good graphical outbursts of mushrooms and explosions found in the Mario Kart games, but Cartoon Network Racing offers up a good amount of visual luster. Each level in the game is designed to look like the world in which one of the cart-racers inhabits, and the interpretations are solid. Dexterís laboratory is just as moody as itís television counterpart, and most of the other environments are just as faithful. The characters are also modeled exceptionally; the developers did a fine job of bringing the usually two dimensional citizens of toon town to three dimensional life. Johnny Bravoís blonde pompadour never looked so good outside of the boob-tube!


If you havenít gotten sick of the opening themes from Cow and Chicken and Dexterís Laboratory yet, then youíll love every inch of the soundtrack. The sound bites, ripped directly from their respective shows, are many, and on the DSís twin speaker set, come in crystal clear. Youíll find little originality in the canned effects that accompany rocket blasts and skidding tires, but considering that these boisterous, exaggerated noises are staples of the cartoon medium, how can you complain?


Weeded directly from Mario Kart, Cartoon Network Racingís gameplay is entirely generic. This is not necessarily a bad thing: cart racing games are best kept simple. But this time around, the formula sans intriguing level design, match altering power ups and Wi-Fi play is milquetoast.

The subject of level design is the thing most likely to come up when discussing any racer, cart or otherwise. When a game like Mario Kart not only thrills gamers with visually impressive leaps of faith and star-studded, out-of-this-world arenas, but also challenges them with fair, difficult turns and tight alleyways to navigate while under siege, it is a shame that this titleís raceways do little more than throw a few easily overcome turns at you, along with a handful of leaps and a smidgeon of perilous trenches. The levels glow with Cartoon Network energy, sure, but at the expense of excitement.

Not all is mundane in this game, though. The presentation is top notch, and quips and screeches from the likes of Johnny Bravo and Blossom are spot on. Also of note is the decent amount of characters and maps that will likely keep gamers busy for a good amount of time.


Correction: Cartoon Network Racing allows for both single cart and multi-cart multiplayer. Single-cart download play allows four players to go at it locally, but if each player has his or her own copy of the game, more characters and tracks are available for play. Either way, game players may be in for an even more exciting and surprising gaming experience since the human opponents may not be as likely to know every single shortcut the computer AI knows and exploits.


Cartoon Network Racingís folly is not that it is necessarily a bad game, itís just that in a vast market with many, many other cart racers, fails to do anything to stand out. Those who spend countless hours in front of the TV, monitoring the daily misadventures of Dexter and the Powerpuff Girls will certainly find something to appreciate in this game, but for everyone else, itís probably best to stick with Mario and friends.

final score 6.0/10

Staff Avatar Brendan Kerr
Staff Profile | Email
"Give me a game, give me a juice-box, and leave me alone!"

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