Disney Speedstorm by Gameloft is a hot new entry into the battle kart racing genre that aims to claim a place on the podium alongside the greats. It has the Disney branding and amazing graphics and soundtrack, but how does Disney Speedstorm stack up against the likes of Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing?
Could Disney Speedstorm Be The Next Great Kart Racer?
Mario Kart is undoubtedly the reigning champion of the battle kart racing genre. It has Nintendo’s universe to work with, so it is able to utilize household name characters like Mario, Toad, Yoshi, and tons more. In typical Mario universe fashion, it’s full of bright, well designed levels that are memorable and backed by compelling soundtracks. The bar is certainly set high for competitors. Though many have tried, only the Crash Team Racing series has really given Mario Kart a run for its money.
Enter Disney Speedstorm. This new game has a lot of things going for it to give it a chance of running with the top dogs. It’s got the Disney universe to work with — which means characters people know and love — and unique, sometimes spectacular tracks based on various properties, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean track.
Speaking of which, that is one of the best tracks I’ve played in any kart racing game. It has an incredible layout and visual appeal, with special effects like cannons being fired and Kraken tentacles slamming down. On top of that, there’s a wild techno remix of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme songs that pulls it together. It’s this kind of design and attention to detail that creates memorable racetracks and is a big contributor to how good a kart racer really is.
Mario Kart features lots of items to unlock, customize, and play around with, which adds considerable depth and longevity to the game. Disney Speedstorm does the same, only in a more restricted way that incentivizes microtransactions, such as buying the Battle Pass to save you time on grinding out new unlocks. With Mario Kart’s unlockables all being free and embedded within the progression system, Disney Speedstorm’s relatively aggressive monetization will likely put off a lot of players.
You’ll be playing a ton just to unlock all the characters, let alone grinding for the materials you need to upgrade each of them. That’s right, characters have levels, with their racing performance and what races they can enter being restricted by their level. These kinds of RPG elements are absent from Mario Kart and may prove divisive for players who prefer the simplicity of unlocking different karts, tyres, and gliders that can be used with any character to customize their racing performance.
That said, the RPG elements in Disney Speedstorm add some cool wrinkles to the game. For example, instead of standard items when you pass through a crate, you’re more likely to get an ability; leveling your character up and customizing them can open doors for useful new abilities. This approach let me find characters with abilities that synergized with my playstyle better than others so that I could use that to my advantage to win more races.
While the tracks in Disney Speedstorm certainly have design elements inspired by Mario Kart, overall I found them to be more like the tracks from Crash Team Racing. There’s less of a focus on obstacles, lots of boost pads and item opportunities, and plenty of shortcuts/secret paths to find.
Overall Disney Speedstorm does a great job of implementing its twist on the genre and differentiating itself from the likes of Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. Because of that, it feels like a legitimate contender as a kart racing game of choice. It’s not quite at the level of Mario Kart, but it is a first attempt — and still in Early Access. If Disney Speedstorm can address some of its flaws, like the mobile-game-style progression system before its full release, it absolutely has a shot at stacking up to games like Mario Kart.
For now, Disney Speedstorm certainly isn’t perfect but in terms of its gameplay, characters, and music, it certainly has a fighting chance at being a standard bearer in the battle kart racing genre, which makes it well worth checking out!