Coffin Dodgers Review

Everybody knows kart racing – and everybody knows that the King of Karts is undoubtedly Mario, that pesky plumber. But some other platform’s got him all locked up. That hasn’t stopped developers trying to recreate the magic on other platforms, though, usually with limited success.

Coffin Dodgers from developer Milky Tea Studios is the latest kart racer to land on consoles. Milky Tea, perhaps wisely, have avoided the Mario clone route and instead added their own unique twist – incorporating a dash of Road Rash violence. Here, your racer’s main objective is to outrun the other ‘old people’ as one by one they are beaten and turned into zombies by The Grim Reaper.

Failing to dodge that particular coffin, and becoming part of Death’s zombie army, doesn’t mean the fun stops. The unfortunate wrinklies are returned to the world of the living to assist in stopping you, as one by one your OAP rival racers become OAP zombie racers.

At this point we should say that we feel we can get away with the rather unkind references to old people in this review, written as it is by two of the older members of the Xbox One UK team. We remember when all this was just fields, you know…

In Coffin Dodgers the race for your life is indeed on. With seven elderly racers to choose from, each with their own small back story, an unlockable character, 13 races and 2-4 player local multiplayer, the game certainly doesn’t lack for options. Add in customizable mobility scooters and your good old walking cane as a weapon, and you’re ready to begin.

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A bit like a championship mode on more serious race games, Coffin DodgersStory Mode takes you on a tour of your sleepy little retirement village (rather than famous race tracks). During races you’ll pick up all manner of real and improvised weapons, from Uzis to oil cans, in a bid to slow down your competition.

Milky Tea have gone to town, delivering a fast-paced and quirky adventure, with pickups, boosts and obstacles thrown in on each lap. The course designs are fun to drive, with some areas being particularly challenging to navigate. With the loser (or losers) at the end of each round being killed off and turned into a zombie driver by The Grim Reaper, you’d best not come last!

The story is driven along at fair rate, requiring you to modify and upgrade your racing scooter to make sure you can stay ahead of the pack and out of Death’s bony clutches. Head over to the garage between races to spend the coins doled out at the end of each race. There are only a few basic upgrade options to choose from – gears, engine, paint – but that suits the simplicity of kart racing perfectly. You’ll not be getting bogged down in diff settings and camber angles here!

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Coffin Dodgers is an undeniably pretty game – even is the eldsters are past their best – with a quirky (for a racer) use of ragdoll physics. Hit an obstacle too hard, or get rammed by the other racers, and you will fly off your scooter. Hip replacements all ’round, then!

While Story Mode provides a brief but enjoyable distraction, it’s clear that Coffin Dodgers has pretensions on the local multiplayer crown, especially given the lack of on-line multiplayer. In truth, we’re relaxed about the number of smaller and indie games that don’t offer an online option. With even some AAA games suffering empty lobbies a few months after launch, we’d prefer that smaller developers concentrate on making an enjoyable, fun game rather than ticking another box on the features list.

Local multiplayer – with up to four player split screen – has the all the usual options, letting you jump into time trials or set up races with your friends. Somewhat randomly, there’s an ‘open world’ option which allows you to hop on board your scooter and explore the village whilst looking for items to collect, all against the clock.  This, though, is a rare missed apex in Milky Tea’s racer, offering no particular challenge or enjoyment. It feels like an after-thought, a way to showcase the racing tracks and the village together as a whole. Happily, though, the mode can be ignored, and the game is better when it focuses on the racing.

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Coffin Dodgers is available from the Xbox Store priced £9.59.

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