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Strap In And Let's Go
by Matthew Kato on Sep 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM

If his name wasn't on the cover, you'd never know that five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was the brains behind this game. Johnson is known for his calm, focused demeanor, but this title is a fast-paced kart racer where anything goes.

You'll see pretty much everything but stock cars racing in this game. Its characters are tied to their specific rides, and they're designed around everyday items. There's the coffin car, the jet-packed lazy boy, a toilet, dumpster, etc. for a total of 12 – including an appearance by Jimmie himself with his own custom vehicle. All the rides can use missiles, side rams, and bombs as you earn them during races (with three upgrades), but some vehicles are stronger with those weapons than others.

The tracks themselves, based around movie sets are just as outlandish as the rides. A minigolf-themed level is what you'd imagine it to be, and the medieval, rural, natural disaster-based, and other tracks (for a total of 13) are constantly throwing up curve balls. Environmental changes such as track-based attacks can be triggered, shortcuts open up only for those in the back of the pack, random obstacles slow you down, and boost can be earned by hitting a specified succession of green chevrons.

The on-track action is fast-paced, and the game does a good job of always giving you something to run over or dodge, spontaneous short cuts to swerve down, or power ups to use. Alternate modes you encounter during your career path also mix things up such as Matador, where cars race in opposite directions from each other and the one-on-one Duels where you start out with all your weapons. There is also a multiplayer Survival mode where racers who are knocked out for being the last car in the pack turn into a robot chicken bomb.

Jimmie Johnson's kart racing title might not be infused with his NASCAR persona as we know it, but that game itself is anything but a boring ride.