The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Perhaps kart racing is more spiritually related to stock car racing than you or I think. After all, we've come to expect dramatic worst-to-first finishes at restrictor plate tracks like Daytona or Talladega as drivers work with teammates and the draft to sling themselves to the head of the pack. If only this game spent more time exploring such connections and catering to the sport, it would be more than a by-the-numbers copy of previous kart racers.
Teammates are a big part of NASCAR, and this game smartly makes it a focal point of the gameplay. Drafting with your partner earns you boost, and the game even awards you a win if your partner comes in first and you don't. Apart from drafting, however, the game doesn't make use of the sport. Pit road isn't integral to the racing, and there aren't even any power ups or attacks involving both teammates. Hell, the multiplayer isn't even co-op.
Whatever opportunities this game misses, it does just enough to make itself playable. Power-ups are a random bag of missiles, oil slicks, vision-obscuring ads, and more. Driving can be handled quite capably with either a Wii remote or a dual remote/nunchuk setup, and it includes the ability to powerslide. It would have been nice, however, if the controller functionality included motion-based power-up attacks.
This standard kart racing setup isn't helped by the fact that the track selection over the game's 13 racing series (mainly road courses) gets old fast regardless of the reverse course layouts. Scant few special racing events are included, and even these aren't enough to alleviate the racing boredom that quickly sets in. Turning left for 600 miles at Charlotte seems like a thrill a second in comparison.
One of the more unfortunate things about this game is that for a supposedly comical kart racer, the drivers' personalities rarely come through. At its worst, NASCAR Kart Racing stands out as little more than a marketing opportunity in a sport already filled with them.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
While I'm not exactly in the target market for a Wii NASCAR kart racing game, I can recognize quality when I play it. Is it going to make anyone forget Mario Kart? No, but if you have a younger gamer that loves Wii and Jimmie Johnson in equal portion, this game fits the bill nicely. The main gameplay has the formula down pat; power-sliding, power-ups, and power boosting is the order of the day. The most interesting facet of the game is the teamwork concept; you can charge your boost by drafting in proximity to your pre-selected teammate, allowing skilled gamers to ''ladder boost'' their way to victory. It's a gimmick tailor-made for great co-op gameplay; it's a pity this feature is entirely missing from NASCAR Kart Racing.