Coffin Dodgers – What We Think:
It has been a good long while since a Mario Kart knockoff has been remotely satisfying. Coffin Dodgers from Milky Tea Studios – though flawed – manages to recreate some of that excitement with a Tim Burtonesque twist perfect for Halloween season that makes up for the lack of video game celebrity characters.
The premise is that a smalltown of elderly folk have been happily convalescing their golden years away, when suddenly the Grim Reaper shows up at their doorstep, promising to claim their souls. Well, they just won’t have it, and challenge Death to a scooter race for their very afterlives.
To get into the game proper, there are various ways to begin: You can jump into local or online multiplayer, exploration mode, racing more or single player story mode. It is recommended you do the tutorial stages first, though I found I had little patience for the pacing and jumped right into the single player campaign.
Get Ahold of Yourself
Like most driving games, the first few spins around the track require a little adjusting. Controlling your little scooter is straightforward with a gamepad; right trigger to accelerated, left to reverse, A for special attacks, B for melee. Easing off the acceleration while taking turns and then gunning it after the bend (as in real life) is the best way to zip around the track, and coins that you collect along the way can be used in the garage to upgrade for extra balance, acceleration and so on, which make for better manoeuvrability. I would have liked a braking option, however.
While I am griping, I noticed several grammatical errors in the text for cutscenes – nothing major, just a few missing or misplaced apostrophes or questionable English, but it jostled my suspension of disbelief. The game also is clearly made by young folk who refer to the elderly as “the old people,” lol. Even at middle age, I found it a bit…sophomoric.
I enjoyed ramming into piles of cardboard boxes or zombies or into police cars and seeing my experience points accrue, but I could never figure out exactly what this XP element did. Which brings me to another point – the characters don’t have much to distinguish between them beside a skin and their mode of transport. Deeper specialization could add more needed variation to a game that starts strong but ultimately begins to plateau.
True to form, the game allows you to knock other racers out by picking up missiles or a semi automatic along the track, but despite that fact that it gives you a warning that you are in someone’s sights, I was rarely, if ever, able to do anything about it. In other words, I could have had a perfect drive and then get sent from first to last because of a missile launched at me over which I have no control. I found this very unbalanced and off-putting.
Also, the game requires you to place within the first three or four positions to progress to a new track in the campaign mode. In one occurrence, when I didn’t place in the top three and wanted to retry, the game remained stuck in the post-race loop and I had to force quit. Oops! I also wish that a race could be restarted in the middle, as opposed to having to finish it out first.
I Still Like You Though
These quibbles and bugs aside, the game’s physics and controls handle quite well and I did have fun with the palpable sense of speed as I whipped through some of the levels.
From an aesthetic design perspective, the soundtrack feels stolen right out of Danny Elfman’s shoebox and really adds to the spooky, morbidly comedic theme of the title. The colorful towns and quirky characters make it a solid enough entry into Halloween party games and I’d suggest you give it a try.
Watch the trailer for Coffin Dodgers below: