Kart racers have always been dominated by one singular property for years. Some of them try to dethrone it, some merely choose to imitate it, but nothing has ever really gotten close to the Mario Kart franchise. It’s just so filled with quality gameplay and easily accessible multiplayer action that it easily became the master of the kart. However, there’s something to be said about an indie title that can take the essence of Mario Kart and distil it into a cheaper package with its own unique twists to the genre.
Coffin Dodgers is most certainly not that.
The premise of Coffin Dodgers can be seen as precarious at best and just plain ridiculous at worst. Death has come to a town to reap the souls of the elderly and the old people of the town choose to challenge Death to a kart racing tournament using their mobility scooters in order to keep their souls. It sounds a little funny, but it’s akin to that one tired joke your dad keeps telling whenever your friends show up that he still thinks is hilarious. However, that’s the extent of the story mode of the game. After three tracks in a specific location, the racers on the bottom of the scoreboard die and only one elderly person can remain on the Earth.
Death race to nothing
The tracks that are available are all basically a variant of the same town map that you start the game in. Even the ones that sound interesting like The Graveyard, is basically just the same town but with gravestones littered about. One time there’s a descent into what looks like Hell where you can go into a portal, but surprise, you’re right back in the same town you’ve raced in this whole time. This establishes a running theme that you can find in the rest of the game; a complete lack of variety.
The game functions like any other kart racer. You race in your little mobility scooter and pick up powerups that can sabotage your opponents or give a speed boost. You can also beat your oppenents up by whacking them with a stick that you can charge up for more old people smacking force. You can also purchase upgrades for your kart using gold coins you win from finishing races. Want to know something interesting? That’s it. That’s all it has going for it in the gameplay department. The handling of the karts is barely passable, but it’s still sticky and offers zero excitement. I even turned on auto-accelerate because there wasn’t really a point to waste my energy pressing the accelerator.
Powerups are usually the standout feature of any kart racer, but Coffin Dodgers has the grand total of five mediocre pickups. A missile that launches to the racer in front of you, a shield, an oil spill, an Uzi (?) and a speed boost. There’s no Blue Shell or fun pickups that require some strategy to employ. It’s just the very basic of the basic tools that you can think of. Even the hilariously misguided Uzi just fires like a peashooter until your opponent’s kart explodes.
The “story mode” has three tournaments of three tracks each as well as a final showdown with Death. Like I mentioned, there’s almost zero variety in them at all besides a couple of new assets and maybe a new hazard that you need to watch out for. They also weren’t challenging whatsoever since I got first place in every single event the first time I played each of them. Once I got past the initial chaos of the start of the race, I just cruised through with no excitement for the rest of the entire race. After about an hour or so of this, it’s over and that’s your lot. The end. Finito.
Just take me away, Death
The splitscreen mode is no saving grace either since it’s basically just you and a buddy being bored to tears together. There’s nothing special about the multiplayer and if you whip out your Switch at a party and put on Coffin Dodgers, someone will probably throw a bottle at you. There’s also an “open-world” mode in the game that is basically just the normal track that you’ve raced countless times but with small objectives scattered around that are just the races you do in the singleplayer portion of the game anyway. There’s also this collecting minigame where you have to find items around the town in a time limit, but that’s about as exciting as doing your taxes inside a lukewarm room surrounded by pictures of dirt.
Visually the game looks like something out of a flash website with extremely basic assets, no real theme and zero excitement. The audio is possibly the worst thing about this game since the music is a couple of annoying dinky tracks on loop that grate your teeth to dust the more you listen to them. It’s so bad that I simply switched the music off later on and just listened to the equally boring sound effects.
A complete lack of variety.
The only positive thing I can say about this game is that it’s functional, by some miracle. There weren’t any real bugs, it ran smoothly and there were never any crashes or weird problems. However, if the only good thing you have to say about a game is “it works”, then you know that something went really wrong somewhere.
Coffin Dodgers is a giant waste of potential. A somewhat interesting premise was squandered, the gameplay is immensely boring, the visuals are like a grey wall of mediocrity and it’s all over in an hour. This was a chance for a fun, cheap kart racer that you can happily play with friends for a while and enjoy yourself, but all it turned out to be is a mediocre racer that doesn’t deserve any of your attention. Nothing can make me recommend this game to you and the best thing you can possibly do is use the money that you save from buying this game and eventually buying Mario Kart instead. You’ll be infinitely happier.