We'll be straight with you on this one: Coffin Dodgers is not a good kart racer. Sadly, all it really has going for it is a darkly amusing premise. Sunny Pines retirement village is where the Grim Reaper himself has decided to hang up his scythe after a lengthy career of soul collecting – but not before claiming a few more from his fellow wrinkly residents. A few of them aren't willing to go without a fight, however, and challenge Death to a mobility scooter racing championship, because of course they do. The competition is split into three-race groups. Success comes from remaining in the top three of each successive grand prix, while the loser of each will be killed by the Grim Reaper and replaced by a zombified version of that character.
There are seven oldies to choose from, with the Grim Reaper becoming an eighth upon finishing the story mode. They run the gamut of OAP stereotypes, from Rudolf the war veteran to Martha the feisty grandma. There's no real reason to pick one over the other, as they don't have varying stats or scooters. In fact, the scooter you upgrade over the course of the story mode persists across characters and modes. Improving your vehicle is a nice idea in theory, with some attributes that you'd expect (speed, acceleration) being joined by the basket that, once fully upgraded, allows you to collect two weapons, lock them in place, and switch between them. While it's an interesting aspect of the game, it's ultimately shallow; the races seem fairly pointless once you realise that you're always going to have the fastest, most capable scooter.
This could've been overlooked if the racing itself was anything to scream about. Actually, it is something to scream about, but not for the reasons that we'd have liked. The handling is okay but very sensitive, which, combined with a floaty camera that can't decide where to settle, means that races are challenging for all of the wrong reasons. There's no provision for drifting, and the chargeable melee attack is terrible, with hit-boxes that are incredibly hard to judge, especially travelling at full pelt. The pick-ups are small in number and entirely predictable, and do little to improve the experience.
The tracks are all fairly similar to each other, with slight thematic changes moving the action from the village to a farm to a graveyard and then back again. They're totally forgettable, and introduce bizarre things like zombies shuffling around for you to mow down, and UFOs with deadly beams for you to avoid. The zombies are explained – sort of – but why are there aliens?
Coffin Dodgers is full of inconsistencies, and design decisions that make little sense. Why does the tutorial tell you to avoid cones, only for the story mode to reward you with XP for hitting them? There's an open world mode – again, why? It would be a neat addition if there were a few things to see and do, but it's empty. There is another mode, Crazy Granddad, in which you must collect old-people items, like false teeth and war medals, against a timer. It manages to be less fun than the racing, and you'll likely only play it once for the Trophy.
The problems don't stop at the gameplay, sadly, as the game looks as old as its characters, with bland, angular graphics that do nothing to impress. It sounds even worse, with lacklustre sound effects and only a few music tracks that you'll soon be sick of hearing. The presentation is an ugly mess, with a ton of small problems that should have been ironed out. For example, if you want to play a single race, there's no way to tell the tracks apart – they are simply called Track 1, 2, and 3 in their respective themes. When you're in the story mode, you can't go back and improve your position on a race that you've completed. You also can't restart a story mode race half-way through, despite the option being right there in the pause menu. You can do this in other modes, though, which makes the option's absence from the story mode all the more baffling.
What we're trying to say is: stay away from Coffin Dodgers. It's a humorous concept, but clearly not one that supports a whole game. The awful racing and abysmal presentation are the biggest offenders here, but it's a game with problems weaving all the way through it. If these problems could all be rectified with patches, it could become a fun time-waster, but on release, it's just not in good condition. Poor track design, unattractive visuals, repetitive music, lack of content... We could go on, but we think you get the picture.