With arcade racing games almost extinct on PS4, the time is ripe for a good old fashioned kart racer, and as far as concepts go, fruit is a surprisingly good fit for the genre. We'll try and keep this pithy: All-Star Fruit Racing pits fruit-themed characters in races through fruit-themed tracks in fruit-themed cars. Is it a sweet success, or will it leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth?
One aspect of the game that stands out is the vivid, cheerful presentation. A colourful art style goes some way to making the visuals pop, but underwhelming character models upset the apple cart. They're not a memorable bunch, and some other odd design choices have wormed their way in, such as tracks featuring dinosaurs, pirates, and other out-of-place archetypes. The graphics on display here seem a little under-ripe, too, with a general lack of polish permeating the game.
The kart racer is segmented into offline and online play. Offline is of course where you'll find the career mode, which consists of a number of cups that'll grant you unlockable characters and more when you win them. There are also your standard single race and time attack modes, as well as championship modes that let you create your own grand prix-style events. In the garage, you can also customise your car to suit your tastes with winnable cosmetic items. It's all pretty straightforward stuff, and it provides enough for you and up to three friends to sink your teeth into.
On the track, the racing just about gets the job done. It's your typical kart racer: handling is extremely arcadey, drifting nets you a short speed boost, and rigorous rubber-banding rears its ugly head. What adds a little flavour is the juicer power-up system. Littered across the tracks are five types of collectables: watermelon, cherries, kiwi, blackberry, and banana. The first four will each build up their own meters -- the banana contributes to all of them at once -- and these separate meters all provide you with different abilities once filled.
The twist here is that, if you fill more than one meter, the power-ups will combine to make a souped-up version. Filling all four meters gives you your chosen character's unique ultimate ability, which vary from a strawberry-powered speed boost to a pineapple rocket launcher. What's more, you can micro-manage which powers you want by enabling and disabling your filled meters, giving you access to a wide variety of power-ups to choose from. Oddly enough, not all races use this novel system, with some falling back on randomised pick-ups.
Elsewhere, the game does falter a fair amount. Track design is all over the place, for one -- some are fun to race around while others are dreadful -- and a poor UI can make things harder than they need to be. Framerate appears to be unlocked, but it swings wildly from 60 in the menus to south of 30 in races. As a package, this is a title that bears all the features you'd expect, but it underwhelms in most areas. It's not the worst kart racer in the world, but it's far from a peach.
All-Star Fruit Racing is a relatively fun kart racer that has some good ideas, but it all goes a bit pear-shaped. Though it provides a decent amount of content both in single and multiplayer, the wavering performance, some iffy design choices, and a general lack of polish may spoil your appetite. If you're hungry for a simple kart racing experience on PS4, this may give you a bite of the cherry, but it'll sadly never be top banana.