Say what you will about Horrid Henry’s suitability as a role model for youngsters, but there’s no denying the popularity of the franchise. Although there don’t appear to be any new books on the way anytime soon, the fact is they continue to sell well and its five-series animated spin-off now sits proudly on Netflix after years of strong British TV ratings. As such, while it may be easy to scoff at the idea of another Horrid Henry game (there were a couple of rubbish ones on the DS and Wii) the reality is a large number of parents are likely to buy it for their children. Thankfully, in this case, it isn’t necessarily going to be money poorly spent, because while Horrid Henry’s Krazy Karts is hardly going to have Mario glancing worriedly at his rear-view mirror, it’s actually a half-decent game, if lacking in content.
Rather than going down the Race With Ryan route and churning a children’s property into a bog-standard Mario Kart clone, Krazy Karts at least tries something different by switching to a side-on, 2D viewpoint that looks more like the NES Excitebike. Oddly, though, players can’t actually move up or down: karts are locked on a fixed plane and can only go forwards. Each lane has a series of obstacles to slow you down and a number of jumps which fling you into the air and require you to rotate so you can land cleanly without losing speed (think the Trials series). The racer who reaches the finish line first wins, simple.
At first you can only really go straight and do nothing else, except for transform into a dinosaur when you’ve collected enough T-Rex icons (it acts a bit like the invincibility Star in Mario Kart). As you win GPs though, you’ll get to play some very basic minigames which unlock weapons, which can then be used in races. Before too long you can pick up springs to help you jump over the obstacles, spray cans which give you a nitro-style boost, paper aeroplanes to knock opponents over and the like.
The whole thing is presented well enough with a nice clean art style and some entertaining voice samples, which should have kids smiling. The scrolling is a little on the choppy side, which can be a little distracting, but we dare say eight-year-olds are less likely to notice (not that this excuses it, of course). The main issue we have with the game is that its tracks lack diversity. While there are 40 courses in total, in reality these are just four different environments with 10 different layouts each, meaning once you’ve done one four-race GP you know exactly what to expect from the other nine. It’s also very easy – experienced players will have everything unlocked within 90 minutes, but of course it isn’t aimed at experienced players.
Ultimately, we’re struggling to get too upset about Horrid Henry’s Krazy Karts. At $29.99 / £24.99 it’s still a little pricey for what you get, but young kids who love Horrid Henry will likely have a fun time with it even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. If you see what we very obviously did there.