Many kart-racing games have come and gone, most in the shadow of the Mario Kart series, with only a few peering out from behind that shadow to the point that they're actually memorable. Regardless, Neko Entertainment has set its eyes on the podium, bringing a greek mythology twist on the kart-racing genre with their very own Heracles Chariot Racing.
Originally released in Europe on the PlayStation 2 back in 2007, Heracles Chariot Racing is now on WiiWare. The game is a small package, featuring the usual championship, time trial, multiplayer and battle modes, alongside five main tracks that get slightly reworked from the bronze championship series to the gold championship series. There is also a small roster of racers to choose from, like Heracles, Poseidon, Medusa, and several others, for a total of nine to choose from. Each of course controls a bit differently from the next, with different weight and speed stats, among others.
Unfortunately for the title, past explaining what actually comes in the download, there isn't much else to the game. The graphics, animation, sound and music are quite poor. For originally being a PS2 game, Heracles Chariot Racing looking like something between a DS and PSP game just shows a severe lack of effort. Sound samples, like squeaking chariot wheels, are plain bad, especially when many times the music playing during the race doesn't last long enough for the race to finish, leaving players racing around with no music and only bad sound effects.
Track layout is uninspiring, with the only challenging parts being U-turns, thanks to inadequate brakes. Tracks also feature lots of obstacles to crash into, and items to pick up. Items are almost a direct rip from Mario Kart however, with only a thin greek mask over each. The boost mushroom, the red shell, the thunderbolts, the bananas, almost all of Mario Kart's arsenal is accounted for with only visual changes.
Nothing is original about Heracles Chariot Racing. The greek theme doesn't add to gameplay and could be swapped out for any other theme and still be the exact same game. Truly the game doesn't even live up to the moniker of being called a Mario Kart clone. Mario Kart reject is honestly more fitting.
Leading in a race can be about as exciting as trailing in one, with the only fun found in Heracles Chariot Racing being when in the fray. Fighting for 1st or 2nd place among a pack of four or five other races can get quite engaging, as tracks are for the most part thin, and littered with obstacles and tight corners. Making it out of the pack into the lead is great, while crashing and failing leaves players wanting to race some more. In that regard the controls mostly work great, as when the fray calls for a player's complete attention, almost every time it's completely possible to outsmart opponents and take the lead, even despite the randomness of weapons.
Overall Heracles Chariot Racing feels like a poor game that was simply ported to WiiWare. The title further shoots itself in the foot by providing no instruction whatsoever and it all just feels a bit lazy. Multiplayer isn't any more fun than single player, and even the fact that gameplay can become fun at times by no means is a redeeming quality. The game should be consistently fun, unique, and just-maybe make some actual use of its theme, but this simply is not the case for Heracles Chariot Racing.