Harkening back to the simpler days of the NES era, Pixel Karts GP brings retro-infused kart racing to the iOS. Complexity doesn't always lead to a more fun gaming experience, but there is a thing as too simple.
If you've ever played any kind of a racing game on a system that is 8-bit or fewer, you're going to feel right at home with Pixel Karts GP. It's a racer with a few gameplay options, but nothing overwhelming, and the controls seem lifted right from an NES and onto a touchscreen. In most game modes you'll move forward by holding down one button (A) and braking with the other (B, though, in some game modes your kart moves forward automatically and you'll just control the brakes). You can control the kart's turning in degrees by tapping the right and left arrows; it feels really funky at first and will have you driving into walls more than on the track, but you'll adjust to it.
Your opponents will put up a bit of a fight, but not too much, so once you get the hang of things victory should come pretty easily. Once you've played for a bit you'll unlock several additional levels. However, the levels mostly look the same, and always have you driving around in simple circles. The main level is one circle, and the rest may have a twist or two like a figure eight. Nothing very complex.
Everything about this seems like a 25 year-old game, and, in this case, that's not a good thing. Driving your tiny, pixelated cart on a tiny little track over and over just isn't fun. Once you complete the first race you'll find yourself wondering, "Is that it?" Yes, that pretty much is. If you play in any mode other than Time Attack, all you get at the finish line is a "First Place" and a link to home. No times, no pretend medals, no awards at all.
Sure, there are a few extra modes and options, but they still all circle back to that simple formula of driving a tiny kart in a tiny circle. Games have come a long way since the '80s, and gamers tend to require something with a little more depth to it to have fun. The music and graphics are both very retro, which is fun and fine, but not very memorable. One nice point, though, is that, once you've bought Pixel Karts GP, it no longer tries to badger you into spending more money.
Retro-style gaming is all the rage nowadays, but that's no excuse for developers to create games so simplistic they could be on an Atari. iOS systems are powerful, complex machines capable of doing a lot, and even if game-makers want to make retro-inspired games, if they want them to sell well, they need to find that core element of fun and replayability to get gamers coming back for more. Pixel Karts GP, sadly, lacks that fun, and feels like an unearned attempt to cash in on the nostalgia for better games of years since past.