M&M's Kart Racing
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game is little more than an advertisement for M&M's sweets. The characters are cartoon candies, many of the race courses have themes based on the confection (such as a candy factory conveyor belt), and even the backgrounds of some in-game menus are composed of dozens of little M&M's. It has few -- if, indeed, any -- of the hallmarks of a polished console game worth tens of dollars, and all of the properties of one of those quick, interactive diversions found on company web sites that visitors usually play for a couple of minutes before losing interest.
What's it about?
M&M'S KART RACING is an unsophisticated racing game in which the eponymous candy-coated chocolates drive karts around themed tracks, collecting power-ups like rockets and oil slicks along the way. Players can race in brief tournaments, time-trials, or against one another in head-to-head competitions. Additional karts and tracks are unlocked as the game progresses.
Is it any good?
This is a shamelessly derivative game that copies the mechanics of other, better kart racers and then proceeds to bungle it up. The controls are stiff and awkward, the camera is rarely centered on the action, and the power-ups serve little purpose other than decoration (your computer-controlled opponents are so terrible you'll rarely have the need to take any action to slow them up). The game's lack of originality is matched only by its artless presentation; the simplistic and repetitive graphics are abysmal, the sound effects muted and dull. And with only a bare minimum of modes to choose from and no story, there is almost nothing to engage the player outside of the boring, plagiaristic racing. Adding insult to injury, the game's maker, Destination Software, has the gall to make each DS player who is interested in wireless multiplayer matches purchase his or her own copy of the game.
What's worse, though, is the game's shameless commercialism. M&M's Kart Racing doesn't exist to provide players with a fun and interesting gaming experience, but rather simply to make us think about M&M's candies. The confection's maker, Mars Inc., ought to be paying us to play this game, not the other way around. Needless to say, this interactive advertisement will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about in-game advertising. Does seeing products in a video game affect which products you consume in real life? Do you think that it makes sense for a company to charge people to play a game that is, in essence, an advertisement for their products? Can you think of examples of games in which in-game advertising might actually enhance the game experience (such as racing simulators that feature licensed vehicles)?