Sunday, 3 July 2016

Kat's Run - Zen-Nihon K-Car Senshuken (SNES)

There's a few slightly odd little idiosyncracies that seperate Kat's Run from the usual generic 16-bit racing games. For a start, the selection of cars on offer is a little odd, being a mix of fast convertibles and the kind of 4x4s and people carriers you'd normally associate with middle class soccer moms. There's also the fact that before selecting your car, you select your character from a pack of very 90s anime-looking young folks.

Character selection is a purely aesthetic choice, as far as I can tell: they appear in a window at the bottom of the screen, with animations for steering and reacting to moving up and down in the race standing. Despite that, it does add to the game, in that it forms part of an all-round well-presented little package. The game looks great in general, with an array of beautiful mode 7 tracks and cute little sprites for the cars and so on.

Another odd thing is how the game handles tracks. Before you start, you can pick one of two game types, though the only difference I can tell between the two is that one gives you the tracks in a fixed order, the other random. But either way, you drive all the tracks as a single race: after a lap (or possibly two? I'm not totally certain on that), a red orb appears on the ground, and when you drive past it, you suddenly find yourself a dark tunnel, emerging a few seconds later in a totally different location. The locations are pretty varied too: there's city and country tracks in Japan, a track in the egyptian desert, one in the shadow of a gigantic statue statue, and so on.

The odd vehicular selection can be somewhat explained away by the fact that these races are apparently illegal: there's some kind of plot about a wanted racer with a billion-yen bounty on her head, and should a player find themselves hanging too far behind the pack, they'll start to hear sirens getting louder and louder. Eventually, a cop car will appear to your rear, and if it manages to overtake, it's instantly game over and prison food for your chosen character.

Overall, Kat's Run is a fun and great-looking racing game with a lot of charm and some interesting little quirks. You could definitely do a lot worse on the SNES.

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