Version Reviewed: 1.0
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What was once a genre with only a single notable title, Crash Kart, has become one of most hotly contested genres on the App Store. Between titans Konami and Gameloft's offerings, Eurocenter, a developer specializing in online games, has snuck in Cocoto Kart Online. But will it be able to compete with its counterparts?
The gameplay of Cocoto Kart will be immediately familiar to you if you have ever played Mario Kart. This is for a reason; every gameplay aspect is shamelessly ripped from Mario Kart without any notable additions. You race around fantasy tracks (there are 10 total), reaching the finish line as quick as possible by not only steering the best, but also by hindering you opponents' progress by using items. The items in Cocoto are not very diverse, original, or plentiful, but they suffice. Their are road obstructions, homing missiles, a shield, and a boost. Items are collected by running over item "diamonds." For a kart racer, track design is very important, and Cocoto falls short. The tracks are not imaginative at all, and are fairly straightforward and basic affairs, with only the standard elements. There are shortcuts for nearly every map, but these are gimmicky at best. Still, the overall gameplay is executed well, and the pacing feels absolutely perfect; not too fast, not too slow.
Single player mode allows you to race in either a quick game or a grand prix. Both of these have four difficulty modes, including mirror mode, but even the 50 cc level feels way too challenging. The best part of the game is the online component. You can either race or battle it out, both against up to three people. Though bland, battle mode is the most fun I had playing this game, probably because it does not require the precision of a race. Each player has three lives, and if you are hit with an item you lose a life. Last man standing wins. There are five specialized and distinctive battle maps. Online play is well executed and fast, with lag rare over even a 3G connection. Unfortunately, online play also lacks any cohesiveness. There is no stat tracking, no leaderboards, or any semblance of information on your performance. In fact, a general lack of information seems to be a common theme in Cocoto. For example, there are 12 characters, but they appear to be solely superficial, as there are no details about them on the selection screen. There are no instructions at all to be found throughout the game. And when UI makes a rare appearance, it is always ugly, clearly showing a lack of attention to detail.
Dreadful controls, though, are what truly doom Cocoto Kart. Accelerometer steering is horribly insensitive and unresponsive, and is probably the worst execution of accelerometer control I've experienced on an iPhone racing game. The other option, on-screen buttons, is slightly better, but still awful. There is a left button for turning left, and a right button for turning right. Unfortunately the controls are not proportional; there is no degree of nuance. Barely press the left button, and you'll get a sharp left turn. For acceleration, there are two options: manual and auto, both of which work fine. To jump, you shake the screen. I think it's pretty obvious why this is an awful idea. You can also shake to deploy items, or you can reach for a button at the very top of your screen. Unfortunately, controls doom Cocoto's potential.
If Cocoto's gameplay is a Mario Kart rip-off, the graphics are blatantly cloned. The attempt is to recreate that trademark Mario Kart art style, but due to sloppiness in some areas Eurocenter fails to truly pull it off. There are also periodic frame rate hitches and predictable crashes. Sound sadly falls under the exact same category as the graphics.
Cocoto Kart Online is hardly the best kart racer for the iPhone, but at $.99, if you really love online multiplayer, it may be worth a try.