“Garfield, the famous lasagna-loving cat, is back!” That’s according to the description for Garfield Kart Furious Racing on the Nintendo eShop. The reality, however, is quite another matter entirely. Despite a description (and a price tag) that would suggest this is a sequel to the infamous Garfield Kart, we’ve got news for you: it’s not. Furious Racing is actually a remaster of the original Garfield Kart, in that the tracks have been given a bit of a lick of paint. Amazingly, though, it manages to actually be worse than the six-year-old game it’s based on.
Sorry, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We should know better, because Garfield Kart: Furious Racing teaches you not to do that. You could be looking at a turn ahead of you, thinking of how you’re going to approach it, when the game could ask: “Hold on a minute there, Snappy. You’re getting quite cocky there, sizing up that turn. Have you ever considered the possibility that I might just crash your kart for absolutely no reason? Well, consider it, child, because I might.” Let’s go back a step, then.
For those not familiar with it, the original Garfield Kart became somewhat infamous for its low quality, with things stepping up a gear when a prominent YouTuber declared it the worst game ever made. To be clear, it wasn’t: it was nowhere near it. At the risk of an “OK boomer” comeback, we’ve been in this game long enough to know there have been plenty of titles over the years that were far worse than Garfield Kart. That’s not so say it was any good, mind you – we tore it a new catflap when it was released on the 3DS – just that its notoriety came as a result of some sizeable exaggeration.
On paper, Furious Racing is the same game. You get the same eight racers from the Garfield universe, including the famous feline himself, his tragic owner Jon and other such well-loved characters as Odie, um... Squeak the mouse, and Harry. Look, you shut your ignorant mouth, of course you know who Harry is. It’s Harry! From Garfield! The thing with the cat! Yes, of course, now you know who I mean. Well, Harry’s in there along with the rest of the gang.
You also get the same 16 tracks that were in the first game. None of these were particularly awe-inspiring in the first place, and slightly improving the environment detail doesn’t exactly transform them into Mario Kart contenders. It doesn’t even transform them into Race with Ryan contenders. Consider this: of the 16 tracks available, four of them are desert tracks. That’s a quarter of the entire game, a game based on a cat who famously rarely leaves his house, let alone travels to the chuffing desert.
There are also eight cars that correspond with each character, though you can swap them around to have, say, Jon drive Odie’s car, if you’re the sort of carefree anarchist for whom such reckless behaviour is likely to have you tearing chunks of flesh from your cheeks in pure unbridled hedonism. All the characters, tracks and cars are available at the start of the game so there’s nothing to unlock in that respect.
Indeed, the only unlockables are ‘comedy’ spoilers that can be put on the back of your car (here’s a spoiler: this isn’t getting a good score), and special hats that can be applied to your racer for extra bonuses. There’s a chef’s hat that makes your pie weapons travel faster, a Viking helmet that lets you use several lasagne power-ups in a row, and a cowboy hat that fixes all the game’s collision detection and improves its handling significantly, to the extent that it actually feels like a competent game. Okay, we lied: there’s no cowboy hat.
Which brings us to easily the most pressing issue with Furious Racing: it’s broken. Race around at the painfully slow 50cc setting and you shouldn’t notice too many issues, other than a handling system that’s hot garbage, with steering that’s nowhere near tight enough to get round many corners and a drift system that’s far too tight to be useful in every situation. Learn to cope with that, and you’ll have an issue-free time. Not a good time, to be clear, just a time that won’t have you uttering strings of obscenities that make you seem less “I hate Mondays” Garfield and more “I don’t like Mondays” Bob Geldof.
Step up to 100cc, however, and niggles start to appear. Play it on 150cc and it’s outright borked. This is a game that simply doesn’t feel like it’s been tested at these speeds, because there’s absolutely no way anyone could have played this for any length of time without noticing massive, game-breaking issues on a regular basis. In just our first hour with the game, we tumbled upside down simply for driving over a small bump, instantly snapped 180 degrees round after clipping the side of the road, ended up flipping sideways after brushing against a barrier and remaining that way for a good 15 seconds, and had all manner of odd results coming off jumps.
This isn’t an exaggeration: it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll finish a four-race Grand Prix without some sort of bizarre instance occurring that inevitably puts you at a disadvantage. This is a game that simply isn’t prepared to deal with fast-moving objects colliding with its scenery (or even its roads at times), and when fast things cause your game to exhibit more bugs than an early Pixar movie, a racing game’s the worst possible thing it could be.
If you're lucky enough to get through a race without strange collision issues, you're still unlikely to have a great time of things. The game has a tendency to trigger weapons extremely frequently, some of which you're powerless to avoid. The pillow weapon in particular hits all enemies and makes them fall asleep, reducing their kart to a crawl. While it may be welcome to have your kart go slow enough to avoid the possibility of falling through the scenery for once, when it happens four or five times in a race it's downright infuriating.
Even if you wanted to stick it out and struggle through the nonsense, there’s no real incentive to do so. As previously mentioned, every character, kart and track is readily available when you first boot the game, with the only unlockables being hats and spoilers. This is in stark contrast to the original Garfield Kart, which seemed to be built for a microtransaction system that was never implemented and resulted in you having to churn for up to 10 hours at a time to scrape enough coins together to unlock a single car. That’s no longer the case.
That isn’t necessarily a positive, though. We’ve gone from a game with unlockables that took a lifetime to earn, to one where almost everything is just handed to you at the start with no questions asked, and the remaining hats and spoilers can be unlocked by ‘simply’ winning races and Grands Prix (we say ‘simply’ because, of course, the game has that lovely tendency of frequently deciding: “Hmmm, I think I’d like you to fall through the track now, thanks.”)
You’re looking for a final insult to round this off, we can feel it. Something to really drive home the point that there’s nothing to salvage from this sorry affair. Well, put this in your exhaust pipe: at launch the Switch version is more than double the price of the same game on Steam. Even more bizarrely, there’s currently a Steam bundle where you can buy Furious Racing and the original Garfield Kart – which, remember, is what Furious Racing actually is, only more broken – for less than Furious Racing alone. As if they’re saying: “These games are so bad that the more you want, the less we can morally charge you”.
We always knew Garfield was something of a rebel, but taking a bad six-year-old game, making it even worse to play, pretending it’s a sequel and charging Switch owners more than double the price to suffer it is some pretty subversive stuff. The original Garfield Kart is extremely cheap on Steam: considering this is a more broken version of the same game, you might as well buy that instead. Even if you don’t have a PC, you’ll have wasted less money.