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Developer: Taomee Entertainment Network
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.6
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Lots of games are copycats, and many copycats breathe new life into a genre. But Mole Kart I by Shanghai-based Taomee Entertainment Network is a such a blatant replica of Mario Kart it almost defies reviewing. It arrived on the App Store on May 4th and everything except the characters are virtually identical to Nintendo’s classic. What’s curious is that Mole Kart, minus the I was released back in mid-January and was pulled by Apple, as most pundits expected. Why it’s back is a mystery to me, but here it is, now free down from it’s launch price of $.99. And, the new release is as stale as its former incarnation.

That said, it’s definitely time for Nintendo to wake up and smell the smartphone and tablet gaming market. Despite the mediocre pseudo-port both the previous incarnation and the current version have been well received by gamers who are itching for the entire iconic cast of the Mario world make an iOS appearance.

Until they do, which isn’t likely anytime soon, Mole Kart I and other clones will have to suffice. While I can’t recommend this one on its own merits, if you are a die hard Mario Kart fan itching to see it poorly reproduced, it’s best to pick this up now, lest it be pulled again.

To the game itself, and to belabour the point, is a Mario Kart port, right down to the track designs. There is a cast of creepy clowns in place of the classic crew, and a few obstacles are thinly veiled, but there is absolutely nothing new or innovative about Mole Kart I.

What we find instead are lots of lags, clunky controls, and none of the finesse, charm or attention to detail found in its Nintendo inspiration. There is a multiplayer mode which might be interesting, but I couldn’t find any matches so I can’t report if it’s any more fun than the other uninspired rubber-band karting modes.

Add to the mix some of the worst English syntax in the App Store (i.e. “item mode” in lieu of adventure mode) only two unlocked characters to start with lots of in-app purchases not worth purchasing, and really the only people who should be downloading this game are those who can’t get enough karting regardless of quality.


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